Let’s Be Scientific

June 17, 2015 — Leave a comment

photodune-8754774-science-xsFor what’s it’s worth, when it comes to business relationship surveys,  I prefer the term “Customer Insight” to “Customer Feedback” or “CX” and other descriptors. It’s the notion of proactivity….”Insight” connotes looking in….”Feedback” being more reflective/passive.

Rather than be at risk of getting into semantics, I should explain that my preference for “Insight” is rooted in my belief that customer investigations should be based on a proactive scientific, empirical mindset.

In a “soft” science such as survey research, I think it’s important to be as empirical as possible.

Empirical is defined as evidence or information that justifies a belief in either the truth or falsity of a claim by:

1. Relying on and observation or experiment:

2. Being Verifiable or provable by means of observation or experiment

Okay, so just what am I rambling about here? It’s this: Customer Insight information should be gathered in the context of an experiment….in which we seek to validate the truth of a claim.

In a business enterprise, a claim would be something like this: I think we lose customers because our price is too high……you think we lose customers because our service is lousy…..the guy down the hall thinks it’s because we are not consistent in our pricing and how we deliver service across our territories.

We would then resolve our claims….who’s right?….by conducting a survey, or some form of observation.  This should produce a well defined exercise, with a tightly connected outcome and associated path of action.

When business customer surveys are done in your organization, are they done to settle claims? Could you say they are focused (empirical) to the point of serving one of a number of predefined actions based on the findings?

I once took over a large Market Research department supporting a few dozen Brand Managers who used research extensively (and irresponsibly) in formulating product design.

I made myself immensely unpopular from the start by requiring that each research project request was supported by:

1. The theories (claims) to be tested: A vs. B vs. C

2. The decisions and/or actions that would be taken according to the outcome –whether it favors A, B, or C.

While I didn’t get many invitations for after work beers, I did get my full budget increase approved for the following year because we were able to provide dollar proof of the value achieved by better decisions, improved products, and increased revenue.

Is this really necessary?

Yes, it is….”surveys” quickly become big busses to which all kinds of questions are attached, without anyone thinking ahead about what they will do if the answer comes back one way or another…..“Nice to know” can be expensive.

This leads to enchanting presentations after which everyone feels intellectually warm and fuzzy and very little happens beyond vague discussions.

It can be daunting to compose the many questions people in the company have that would be “nice to know” into theories in the manner I’m suggesting, but in actuality there aren’t that many…..just think of the basic activities that take place between your company and your customers:

1. Product/service/delivery performance is consistent or not

2. Customer requirements/expectations are met or not

3. Your total offering/brand/reputation is a good fit with the customer or not

4. You compete well in the marketplace or not

I challenge you to come up with other variables….then go test them. You might find there is powerful learning in the simplicity of this….

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