In today's competitive business world, customer research plays a vital role in helping companies maintain their position in the market and stay ahead of competitors. Typically, customer research helps businesses identify consumer segments, needs, and behaviors to reveal unmet consumer needs that create opportunities for business growth.
Customer research sits at the intersection of other types of research like user research, design research and market research.
We’ve spoken about the importance of continuous customer research, but getting to this stage requires a lot of patience and dedication. In this article, we'll walk you through how to make customer research a habit.
To guide you with making customer research a habit, we highly recommend the book "Continuous Discovery Habits" by Teresa Torres. She expertly guides organizations to discover products that create customer and business value. Use this form to get your free copy!
Customer research should be a habit because it helps you make informed decisions regarding your business, fostering its growth and success. Customer needs are constantly changing, and as a business, you should strive to meet these changes. The way to do that is through continuous customer research.
Here's a rundown of the top reasons why you should consider making customer research a habit.
Making customer research a habit can foster revenue growth. If you consistently carry out customer research, you may find new growth opportunities. You might find that your customers want feature upgrades and are happy to pay a higher subscription cost.
You can also identify the existing gap in your customer satisfaction through customer satisfaction interviews which in turn helps you produce goods and services that perfectly address any unmet needs. This way, you'll attract and maintain a huge customer base which translates into increased revenue from more sales.
Continuous customer research will give you consistent insights that will lead you to discover what product improvements can be implemented to satisfy your customers. If you keep taking the temperature of your existing customers and make product improvements, you’ll be able to spearhead product-led growth.
Engaging your customers through customer research plays a critical role in great product development. You build the exact product your customers have asked for.
When you continuously conduct customer research, you’re bound to deviate from the original product development plan. Customer requests can replace other product developments. This can bring some variety to the product development process, rather than following the product roadmap.
Plus, creating a product or service without getting any input or suggestions from different sources can be cumbersome. It's more fun to build a product that you know is meeting customer demand.
Continuous customer research is beneficial to an organization’s critical resources, time and money. When you consistently research what your customers want and need, it eliminates guesswork and ensures your team gets things done right the first time.
If you wait until you launch your product to start customer research. You might find that your product has poor usability, and you have to go back to the drawing board. This is time-consuming and expensive and can put a strain on your team. But if you conduct a usability test during the prototype stage, you can weed out the issues and there will be minimal cases of product redesign.
Making customer research a habit at your organization will take a lot of work, you need to be consistent and persistent. Make sure your team sees research projects through to the finish line, don’t just up and leave halfway through. Also, make sure that you’re carrying out customer research often by establishing a research culture at your organization.
You need the right team to pull off continuous customer research. In an ideal world, your organization has dedicated researchers. However, this isn’t the case for every organization.
It’s a great idea to have roles that are in contact with the product and customers carrying out customer research. This includes product managers, marketers and designers. You can make customer research part of their scope of work.
Once you’ve got your team ready. You need to equip them with the right customer research tools for a smooth research experience.
To make customer research a habit, develop a research culture in your organization. You want customer research to become second nature to your team.
Start with a team meeting and explain the importance of customer research. Make sure your team understands that continuous customer research is in the best interest of everyone in the organization.
To develop a research culture, you need to hold your team accountable. During monthly meetings, get your team to report on how they implement customer research and what they've achieved throughout the month. Work together to make improvements.
To eliminate bias and increase your chances of greater research participation, you should use different research methods. Some customers respond better to particular research methods than others. Also, if you use a variety of research methods, this can make the research process more exciting for your team. No one wants to send out the same kind of surveys every week.
Some of the research methods you can consider in your customer research include:
Interviews: While interviews are time-consuming, interviews provide a better way to gauge how customers feel about your service/product. It's a valuable and eye-opening customer research method for a startup. Interviews offer you a high level of insight into your customer’s minds with specific details of their motivations, wants, and needs.
Surveys: Surveys tend to be quicker than interviews. There’s no need to check for availability and set up interview rooms. You can just send your customers a link with the survey to fill out. It also doesn’t require any face-to-face interaction, which may increase your response rate. Some customers may be hesitant to show their faces.
Listening to customer and prospect calls: Listening to calls provide a great opportunity to learn how your customers feel about your products. Not all these calls will be positive. When you receive calls from satisfied customers, try to find out what caused their satisfaction. On the other hand, if you receive negative calls, find out the cause of their dissatisfaction and work towards improving these issues.
It’s important to work as a team, customer research is a team sport. It’s a team effort developing the product, so the customer research should also be a team effort. Working together as a team reduces the chance of errors. It’s always good to have a second set of eyes to proofread surveys before it gets sent out to customers. Encourage cross-collaboration and open communication amongst your team.
The best way to enable cross-collaboration and open communication in your team is by using a research repository. You can store all your research data and insights in the repository so all team members can view them. You can sit back and watch recordings of customer interviews and write down suggestions that can be implemented.
The cadence of customer research depends on the stage your organization is at and your capabilities. If your company is in its early stages without a dedicated researcher, you can conduct monthly research. Ask your team to set time aside to conduct customer research. This could be the product marketer listening to 5 customer calls a month or the product designer doing one monthly prototype testing.
If your organization has a dedicated researcher, then you’ll find that customer research is a continuous process. Results and insights will depend on which stage of the customer research process you’re on. You might find that it takes a few weeks to synthesize results and write up a research report.
To make things easier for your team, create and share the customer research calendar so each member knows when to conduct the research. Also, make sure the research objectives are spelled out clearly in your research plan, plus the expected results and how to measure them.
Habits take some time to stick. It’s not an overnight process, it’s a gradual process that only gets easier as you consistently do it. The same applies to customer research. Your first few attempts might not bring tangible insights but once you get the hang of it, it becomes a habit.
If you want to learn more about making customer research a habit at your organization, get in touch with us today. We’re happy to help.