3 Ways Market Research Supercharges Experience Programs

Market research is seen by a lot of companies and organizations as a nice-to-have. The reality, though, is that it’s a necessity. Market research provides the mapping tools you can use to chart your business landscape, understand its various features, and more importantly, get to know the groups and audiences that populate it. 

This goal is especially important within the context of experience programs, especially if you want to achieve real Experience Improvement (XI) for your customers, employees, and overall marketplace. Today’s conversation covers three specific ways market experience (MX) and its research can make a difference for you when it comes to becoming a leader in your vertical:

  1. Identifying Audience Segments
  2. Understanding Unsolicited Data
  3. Identifying Emerging Trends

#1. Identifying Audience Segments

There are many experience vendors out there whose approach revolves around two audience groups: new customers and existing customers. Those two audiences are important, of course, but so too are the litany of other customer and non-customer groups that populate your marketplace landscape. Identifying each segment and the amount of business it does with your brand is key to understanding both your vertical and how to become its leader.

More specifically, MX tools and platforms enable you to identify not ‘just’ your loyal customers, but also non-customers, past customers, and individuals who cross-shop with you and with competitors. You can then use your tools to research why these segments shop with you as often as they do (or don’t) and, more to the point, what you can do to turn them into loyal, invested customers.

#2. Understanding Unsolicited Data

Audience segments aren’t the only experience program element that market experience and market research can dramatically broaden. Another key component of understanding your marketplace is looking for and understanding unsolicited data, which MX tools can also help you achieve. Solicited data is important, but as with audience segments, understanding all of the data out there, solicited and otherwise, is the only way to truly understand your vertical.

As a quick reminder, unsolicited data refers to sources of information like social media and what you can infer from your market research. You can find this data once you’ve identified where the audience segments in your marketplace like to shop, which will lead you to more of the data you need to understand them. In other words, adding unsolicited data to the mix helps turn your picture of your marketplace from a snapshot to a landscape portrait.

#3. Identifying Emerging Trends

One of the secrets to building a truly remarkable customer experience isn’t ‘just’ being able to quickly react to problems or listen intently to your existing customers—it’s the ability to understand what all of your customers and audiences will want before they themselves even know. That’s the true power of market research, and it’s a culmination of understanding your vertical from both an audience segment viewpoint and a data one.

Once you’ve nailed down how to identify and capitalize on emerging trends, you’ll be well on your way to marketplace leadership if you’re not there already. Customers respond to experiences that make them feel seen and known as humans, and an MX-fueled initiative will create that Experience Improvement for them.

Taking a Closer Look

Knowing that these MX tools, methodologies, and possibilities is one thing—what’s the next step for understanding more about them and how to leverage them to your organization’s advantage? Click here to read my full-length Point of View on this subject to learn more about what market experience, market research, and all their tools can accomplish for you!

InMoment’s Modern Market Research and Data Analytics Approach Ranks in Top 50

In the latest 2021 Insights Association Top 50 Market Research and Data Analytics report, InMoment ranks in the top 20 established industry reports and market research or market experience (MX) brands, alongside other powerhouse brands such as JD Power, Gartner Research, and Forrester Research Services. 

About InMoment’s Market Research and Data Analytics Approach

With the help of our industry-leading data and research science capabilities, we’re able to help brands go beyond collecting data to reveal actionable intelligence that leads to Experience Improvement (XI). Our “full-service professional CX approach designed to continuously improve the customer experience and deliver business outcomes to an impressive list of clients that includes 90 percent of the world’s automotive companies: 8 out of 10 of the top banks, nearly 20 percent of the top 50 retailers, 40 percent of the top hospitality companies, and 4 out of 5 of the top insurers.”

And this isn’t the first time we’ve been ranked on this list. In fact, InMoment has endured the test of time to be ranked on this report regularly over the past two decades. Here’s why: InMoment goes beyond a traditional approach to pursue what we call modern market research. So what’s the difference and what does it entail? Keep reading to find out.

The Difference Between Traditional & Modern Market Research

The difference between traditional market research and InMoment’s modern approach is that we focus on providing brands with access not only to insights, but to actionable intelligence that opens the door to concrete change. Too often traditional approaches fail to go beyond observing and reporting trends. How can brands expect experiences to improve if the research insights aren’t being used to create actual organizational progress?

How InMoment’s Approach Enables Action

So if part of modern market research is taking action, what does that look like? By focusing on stakeholder engagement and journey mapping, businesses can become more proactive about utilizing their research. Having buy in from your executive boardroom allows research teams to develop projects related to organizational goals and drive their insights into action. And understanding how the customer and employee journeys interrelate can guide that collaborative process into a more honed business strategy.

What Modern Market Research Strategy Looks Like

But what about the research strategy itself? Modern market research combines marketing science and research consultancy to make the most out of data. After journey mapping and capturing customer insights, InMoment supplements that data with financial, operational, employee, social media, etc. data. This new approach means reaching for multiple sources of insights and synthesizing that information to allow organizations to take practical action.

InMoment is dedicated to continuing to be a leader in this space because we believe these initiatives are essential to creating deeper experiences between our clients and their customers. 

Learn more about the InMoment XI difference and our market research and data analytics solutions here.

Three Pitfalls to Avoid When Benchmarking Your Customer Experience Program

When it comes to customer experience (CX), it’s obvious that solicited customer feedback is vital. But what if we told you that, on its own, that feedback is not sufficient to give you a thorough understanding of how your brand is delivering on experience? In fact you need a lot more. You need to understand how your employees view the experience. You need unsolicited feedback from social media and other sources. Finally,, you need to understand the greater market’s perception by benchmarking your customer experience program against competitors.

In the latest episode of InMoment’s “XI Expert Take” series, InMoment VP of Customer Experience Consulting and Insights Jeremy Griffiths takes a deep dive into benchmarking and why it’s so important for customer experience initiatives. We’ll be providing a few of the best takeaways in our article today.

Thinking About Benchmarking Your Customer Experience Program?

Before we get into pitfalls and best practices, let’s talk about why you should be benchmarking your CX program in the first place. Primarily, those of us who lead and leverage experience programs have two overarching questions to answer: 

  • How am I doing?
  • What do I need to improve to drive successful business outcomes?

So, we search for the answers in our customer and employee data. But to answer these questions fully, we can’t just look at our own strengths and weaknesses. We need to be able to see the wider context of the market to get a sense of how we compare. Only when we have that big-picture view can we be certain that we have all the necessary information to make effective, strategic decisions.

However, you don’t want to set out on a benchmarking journey just to get it done. To do it well and get the intelligence you need, there are a few pitfalls you need to avoid along the way. Here are the three benchmarking pitfalls Jeremy has seen most often in his career:

Pitfall #1: Using Benchmarks as a “Big Stick”

When Jeremy works with brands to start up or refresh their benchmarking initiatives, he often has to help leaders shift their perspective about their benchmarking scores. He says one of the most common challenges he’s seen is leaders who use their results as “a big stick to tell their team to ‘do better.’” 

The imagery here is especially effective and accurate. It’s easy to imagine that if a brand’s scores are low in comparison to competitors, a leader might use those benchmarks as a weapon to spur their employees into action. However, this can be incredibly harmful to morale in the moment and to long-term success. 

How? Let’s take a look from the employee perspective. Let’s say that your leader has just given you a talking to, assuming that you and your team are doing something  to negatively impact the experience. But what if you feel as though you’re doing the best you can? What if the real issue is something beyond your control, yet you’re still being made to feel responsible? You’d feel incredibly frustrated, devalued, and helpless. 

This is just one example of how the wrong perspective on benchmarks can negatively affect your business. As we all know, disengaged employees can lead to an increase in employee churn, and therefore, additional costs in the millions!

Pitfall #2:  Using Experience Benchmarks as an Excuse

The next pitfall Jeremy describes is directly related to the first. In fact, it’s the other extreme in terms of leadership perspective: leaders who use their benchmarks as an excuse to do nothing.

In contrast to our previous example, let’s consider a brand whose benchmarking scores are good relative to its competitors. If the leadership sees the numbers and thinks, “well, we’re obviously doing well. Why would we need to do anything differently?” there’s potential for harm to the greater business.

The reason why is quite simple: you shouldn’t let success make you complacent. In our fast-paced world, you can be ahead of the pack one second, and fall behind the next. If there’s one thing we can promise you, it’s that your competitors are competing on experience. If you’re not actively working to provide your customers with the next greatest, more convenient, more memorable experience, then the competition will surpass you—and your customers will flock to the brand with the best experience.

Pitfall #3: Being Too Focused on the Number

The third pitfall is really a cause (and effect) of the first two. Leaders either use benchmarks as a big stick or a comfort blanket because they are too focused on the number. And at the same time, they are causing their employees to focus on the number. 

The issue with this number-based focus is that it only allows you to measure or manage your experience. It does not open the door to actually improving your experiences and boosting your bottom line. To inspire these major benefits, you have to look beyond metric scores and instead focus on the “why.” Why are you performing this way? Why are competitors performing well? Why do customers choose your brand over others?

When you shift your focus from the numbers to the context, you create a proactive, inspired, and positive Experience Improvement (XI) culture that is always pushing forward. This culture inspires your employees to be problem solvers, to strive for better experiences, and to keep your customers coming back. And isn’t that why you’re benchmarking in the first place?

Moving Forward

Now that we’ve chatted about what to avoid when benchmarking, are you curious about how you should execute your initiative? Click here to watch the full episode, “How to Win with Experience Improvement in Your Marketplace,” to learn how you should design your benchmarks (from the samples to take to the questions you should ask), popular use cases, and more directly from the experts!

Turn Market Research into Stories in 4 Easy Steps

Companies don’t have to look far for market research these days. In fact, most organizations are inundated with such data—operational intel, customer profiles, employee experiences, and more can all be harnessed in the blink of an eye. However, as good as it is to have all this info handy, it also presents a new challenge: making effective stories of it all.

Today, we’re going to provide a quick rundown on how your organization can carve effective, powerful stories out of your market research data, starting with four specific steps.

How to Turn Market Research Data into Stories

  1. Understanding
  2. Planning
  3. Discovery
  4. Communication

Step #1: Understanding

This step takes place before your research study even starts. It’s common for companies to begin a general study and just try to gather what’s out there, but taking time to understand pain points, stakeholder interest, and other areas of context will make your market research, and thus your stories, much stronger. In short, understanding business objectives and research needs is a must before starting any study.

Step #2: Planning

Designing with the end in mind is vital to any market research study or experience program. Establish every step of your study from beginning to end, and work with your team to figure out how the information you collect will help meet brand objectives. It’s a lot of legwork, but it will make your sampling frame and survey instruments not just better, but more intentful.

Step #3: Discovery

The discovery step is where your brand can start making stories out of its gathered data, and you’d be surprised how many organizations overlook doing so! You may dread the thought of sifting through a giant mountain of study reports, but the good news is that with discovery, you don’t have to. Rather than dive in headfirst looking for a story, work with your team to establish the story you need your research to tell first. Agreeing on that story before you sift will save you time and, frankly, result in a better narrative than whatever you might happen to find in that data mountain.

Step #4: Communication

This step is where your market research needs to stick the landing, which makes it the most important part of this entire process. Effective communication isn’t ‘just’ important for creating better customer experiences—it also helps your team justify your entire market research effort to the boardroom and build that connection to your business objectives.

The Next Step

Following these steps will make your market research both simpler and stronger, but how can your team best proceed from there? Click here to read our eBook on this subject, where we take a deep dive into the wider world of communicating powerful, effective stories with your market research!

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