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The value of quick feedback vs. deeper insight

Here we consider an example of quick feedback used by a large retailer compared to another example of deeper insight for one of our clients to see what answers they bring.

It’s incredible how a little more thought into what consumers are saying enhances the value of insight and thereby delivers greater commercial value.  We are passionate believers in defending the time to think. It’s about having time to go beyond customer statements at face value which generates greater business impact.

Going beyond face value

We were recently working on a project where customers complained about not being called about a membership renewal.  If we had taken this at face value, we could have fed back around the efficiency of call backs.  Our advice could have been to ‘make a call if two renewal emails have been ignored’ for example.

Fair enough but we thought there is more to this story.  Analysing the relationship customers had with the brand and the dialogue they had had in the research groups, the penny dropped.  They wanted a call back to show they were cared about.

It wasn’t just about efficiency but about showing emotional reciprocity.  Taking that notion has far more extensive implications for a customer contact strategy. It informs a number of aspects such as how a script is delivered, if there should be permission to go off script, what is the tone of voice, what is the relationship.  A small point that makes a massive difference to business processes.

Walmart ‘Pile it High’ backfires

The example of Walmart is a very common one where customer insight was misleading.  Customers were asked if they wanted to see more in the store to which the answer was yes.  The stores were duly rearranged, the aisles were narrowed, and the shelves piled high.  To which the customers complained so thousands of pounds were spent changing it back!

So what went wrong?  We weren’t involved in the research hence we can only hypothesise.  It seems the answer to the question about more choice might have been taken at face value.  They said they wanted more so give them more.

It is hard to ask customers about the consequence of more stock in store, so the question needs to be approached differently.  The in-store experience and its value should be understood before approaching the question of store range.  If customers had appreciated wide aisles, space, an unhurried shopping experience then there is a clue in what might be the trade-off of increased stock levels.  Or at least how the store layout should be managed if more products are to be brought on-site.

The answers

It can be difficult to buy time for insight. If you have stakeholders or project deadlines demanding quicker results from an insight project, it can be hard to buy a few days.  This particularly applies if the research findings are internally available on an online platform which gives direct access to consumer feedback.  After all it’s all there in black and white so why the delay?

We always advise our clients (if needed of course!) to:

  • Build in thinking times to insight projects – even a couple of extra days can allow researchers space to ‘join the dots’ and create valuable insights
  • Be mindful of how direct customer feedback can be interpreted internally and be sure to brief those accordingly who have access to it
  • Allow for time within the insight sessions to explore background and share existing knowledge with agency partners. There’s a need to strike the balance between ‘we’ve heard this all before’ to contextualising questions that come later

If you’d like to explore how these answers might apply in your organisation, get in touch for a no-obligation discussion articles@freespiritconsulting.com