Customer Research – Who needs it?

10 September 2015 by Charles Howden

Well you do, actually. If you are managing a business, or in sales, or operations, having critical feedback from customers about your business delivery is a vital feedback loop to use to make informed business decisions. OK, so intuitive guesswork may have a role, though can end up being expensive if it results in over investment / underinvestment / misdirected investment in critical delivery areas.

What’s it got to do with sales? How certain are you about your answers to the following:

What differentiates your company from your competitors and how does this help your customers?
Where are you failing to deliver value and what do your customers intend to do about it?
What other products and services could you be selling to your customers?
What areas of service delivery are you doing well, and how you could improve them further?
How high is the level of awareness amongst your customers of your other products and services?
Which of your competitors are your customers considering buying from and why (and maybe, when)?
What do your customers think of your competitors and are they gaining ground on you or not?
Your sellers can (and should) be reporting this type of information back to you on a frequent basis, though this is highly partial information with limited value. Will one of your sellers really volunteer that a key customer of yours has poor awareness of your full product range?

Third party customer research has the benefit of being impartial, and can fill the gaps in for you. Customers will generally share information with a third party researcher that they wouldn’t dream of sharing with someone they have a sales / supplier relationship with.

When we run customer research projects for our own clients we always start off by advising them that “We can’t promise you’ll always like what you’ll hear, but wouldn’t you rather hear it from us first?”

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