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 Elements That Make Traditional Market Research Inadequate for Experience Improvement

What do you think of when you hear the term “market research”? For many brands, it brings to mind putting together scorecards, reporting numbers, and a heavy emphasis on looking to the past. Those things are certainly important, but they’re insufficient for creating true Experience Improvement (XI) and getting your organization to the top of your market. Let’s get into greater detail about why those three elements alone don’t cut it for modern market research.

  1. Numbers
  2. Scorecard Reporting
  3. Living in the Past

Element 1: Numbers

Right up top, I don’t want to give you the impression that numbers are unimportant. They fuel your data and, of course, quantify shifts in the trends most important to your experience initiative. However, that’s about the only story numbers can tell. They can reveal whether a trend has fluctuated and in what direction… but they can’t tell you why. Therefore, relying solely on numbers means that your research is only telling part of the story. Identifying the root causes of the trends you’re seeing is the only way to actually make a difference with your experience program.

Element 2: Scorecard Reporting

This element dovetails somewhat with focusing solely on numbers, but it speaks to the importance of how you present your research findings to other teams and the C-suite. Scorecards can be a  handy way to quickly present your findings (especially to an executive with a more quantitative thinking style), but what about the C-suite members who are qualitative? What about the chance to present the impact of your research and your program in a more connective, human light? Illustrating your program with this kind of storytelling, not just scorecards, makes a huge difference.

Element 3: Living in the Past

Ideally, market research should be a GPS, not a rearview mirror. Unfortunately, a lot of research teams view their work solely in the context of the past. Being mindful of the challenges your organization has endured is helpful for looking to the future, but what if there was a way for research to be proactive about the future in real time? That sort of research process is incredibly powerful, and it can help you create the bolder, more human experiences you need to stay on top of your market.

The Path to Modern Market Research

If the elements I’ve discussed are insufficient for tapping into the true power of market research, what can brands do to supercharge their research efforts and make it an invaluable part of their overall experience strategy? Click here to read a full-length point of view document on the subject, where I discuss how to modernize your market research program for the Experience Improvement age. I challenge you to read on even if your research initiative differs from what I’ve discussed—some of my insights may still surprise you!

What Is the Difference Between Voice of Customer and Market Research?

A lot of folks believe that voice of customer (VoC) programs and market research mean the same thing—but they’re actually quite different! In fact, each discipline differs in purpose, design, analysis and outcomes. However, even though they’re different, one isn’t better than the other and brands need both if they want their customer experience (CX) programs to reach their potential. So, with that in mind, let’s get into a quick primer on how VoC and market research differ.

Voice of Customer

VoCs are an essential part of any CX toolkit. They’re designed to fulfill many critical functions for your program, including, as their name implies, understanding customer needs. They’re also useful for understanding customer expectations, as well as what those individuals may want from you before even they know. This information can then be used to adjust operations, inform marketing efforts, and help your organization create both short- and long-term Experience Improvement (XI).

Not all Voice of Customer feedback comes from surveys and focus groups, either. A lot of it comes from unsolicited feedback (website reviews, social media comments, etc). Unsolicited feedback is helpful because it gives customers a chance to express themselves entirely in their own terms, which may alert brands to problems and journey breakages that they weren’t aware of. All of this boils down to the ability to not just capture individual and collective customer feedback, but act upon it. Taking action is crucial to Experience Improvement and building connective relationships.

Market Research

While Voice of Customer is all about feedback, market research takes a slightly wider lens by focusing on understanding the trends around your business. Primary market research is useful for testing new communications and services that your company wants to put out there, while secondary market research looks at the dynamics and sizing of the marketplace around you. Conducting these types of research can help your company identify your target market, segment your customers, and identify growth opportunities.

Your company can supercharge its market research efforts by defining the population you want to target with a survey, then creating samples that ensure you’ll have a match. We’ve found that surveys like these are most effective when they’re blind, meaning that the customer or individual stays anonymous while taking them, and challenge you to do the same! This method is great for reducing response bias.

Dual Strategy

VoC and market research aren’t the same, but your CX program and your organization need both in order to truly understand your customers as people. That fundamental, holistic understanding fuels unforgettable experiences that build loyalty while also creating additional revenue! So be bold in your strategy and use both VoC and market research. Your customers will feel heard, your C-suite will be impressed, and the experiences you provide will be meaningfully transformed.

Click here to read our full-length white paper on why your brand needs both VoC and market research. Our very own Eric Smuda has spent decades in both fields and provides an in-depth look not just at why these disciplines are important, but how your organization can wield them effectively.

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