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The ongoing storm – why you need research now – markets

A series of ten views – view 3, the market view   

Why you need to research your markets now – the market view

In the last two articles we have highlighted the major shocks that organisations and individuals are continuing to face from the lack of certainty and volatility in the world that we live in now. The transition period following Brexit has ended but COVID continues to have a significant impact on us all.

Many organisations continue to face major challenges due to this.

In our work and personal lives we all need something that we can anchor our plans around.

From a business perspective, we need to understand as best we can what is going on in the marketplaces that we interact with. This has always been the case but in the current climate it is more important than ever that we have this insight to enable us to create a roadmap for the future.

Understanding your markets

After researching the foundations of your organisation – its people and its customers – the next area to explore is your markets.

“Before we do anything from a strategy perspective, it is vital to know where we are now.”

So what are the key things we need to know?

  1. What is the impact on the market(s) that you are in from the major shocks over the past year?
  • How have they changed?
    • Have they grown?
    • Different dynamics. A shift in the way in which the market(s) work.
    • Declined?
    • Stayed the same?
    • Frozen?
    • Disappeared?
  • What are the main factors that have caused the changes and why?
  1. How has your organisation performed against these changes?

Research will usually reveal things that we didn’t know. It is more than possible, therefore, that we may not have been aware of some of the market changes that have happened. Where you have identified changes:

  • What have you done to address them?
  • What has worked?
  • What hasn’t?
  • What measures have you used? For example:
    • Market share
    • Turnover
    • Profit or loss
    • ROI
    • Customer value
    • Customer retention
    • Likelihood to recommend
  • Which are new for the past year?
  1. What about your competitors?

How are your competitors doing? What are they doing?

Think about the wider competitive environment too. What is changing? How are these changes affecting your organisation?

  • We looked at changing customer behaviours and expectations in episode two. How are these affecting your position in your markets?
  • Are there new products or services that have appeared in your market(s) over the last 12 months that satisfy needs that you used to?
  • Are others (new companies or existing competitors) trying new routes to market(s)?
    • Who or what are these?
    • Can you compete with them effectively?
  • Have there been changes in the supply chain? How do these affect you, if so?
  1. What is likely to happen next?

What else might be on the horizon to add further shocks to the business environment?

“Scanning and seeking to interpret future changes to the business environment has never been so important.”

It may seem obvious but continual scanning and reporting on the business environment is vital:

  • What political changes may happen that will affect your marketplaces? Think about your customers and potential customers here.
  • Climate change is a hot issue from an environmental perspective. What might happen that would affect your market(s) in the near to medium future?
  • What social changes are happening that may affect you and your customers?
  • What technological changes are imminent?
    • Which of these are likely to affect the markets that you are in?
  • What likely economic changes will affect you and your markets the most?
  • What regulatory changes might impact you and your markets? For example, we are by no means out of woods in terms of data transfers from the EEA to the UK yet.

Trying to read the future and planning against some of the likelihoods are key to developing a roadmap that you and your organisation can follow.

  1. What do you need to consider?

Having researched the above areas, what do the findings mean?

  • What do you need to change to create a more sustainable business for the future?
  • What opportunities exist for new products and services in markets that you are in now?
  • What about opportunities for these products and services in markets that you don’t currently target?
  • Are there opportunities for your current offerings in other markets?
  • What new market areas could benefit from your organisation’s capabilities – especially your people’s skills and knowledge?
  • Should you withdraw from some of your markets?

THE BOTTOM LINE

“Fundamentally…

…are you in the right marketplace(s)?

…are you surfing the waves, stuck in the shore break or sinking?

… how can you pivot your organisation’s capabilities to the meet the opportunities in current and/or new markets?”

If you would like a sounding board for any of this, let’s put a Zoom meeting in the diary

 

 

 

The perfect storm – Why you need research now – customers

A series of ten views – view 2, customers   

Why you need to research your customers now – the customer view

In the last article we highlighted the major shocks that organisations and individuals are facing from the continuing uncertainty and volatility in the current environment.

Ten things to explore now

We suggested that there were ten key areas that organisations should strongly consider exploring right now. The top two are:

Understanding your customers

 

Having understood the foundation of any organisation – its people – the next key area to explore is your customers.

“Without customers an organisation would cease to have a purpose.”

Changes in customer behaviour and expectations

Customers’ perceptions and attitudes are undoubtedly shifting. They were already changing but these have accelerated significantly due the impact of COVID, especially.

“It is more important than ever to find out what your customers think and feel”

The customer view

So, what are the key things we need know now?

  1. How have your customers’ expectations changed in 2020?

In simple terms, what do they want from you?

Gain feedback from them on their experiences with you and your products and/or services. What do they say about areas such as?

  • Usability of products or services
  • Digital communications
  • Website functionality
  • Social media
  • How you could improve
  1. How do you measure up?

Obvious perhaps, but how well do you meet their expectations?

Which of your competitors are better or worse than you, in their view?

  1. What are the gaps?

How close or far are you from what you have discovered?

  1. How have customer behaviours changed in relation to your organisation in 2020?
  • How loyal are they to your organisation?
  • Would they recommend you to others? If not, why not?
  • What has changed in terms of their relationship with your organisation?
    • Are they more or less loyal?
    • Are they considering alternative products or services and/or providers more or less than previously? How is this manifesting itself in purchase patterns?
    • Are they sourcing your offerings in a different way? For example, a marked shift to online vs. physical locations.
    • Are they finding you in different ways? More online discovery, for example.
  1. What is keeping them awake at night?
  • What are your customers thinking?
  • What are their fears and concerns – both now and for the future?
  • What are their levels of confidence and optimism?

What does this mean for your organisation? What can you do to support your customers as a result?

  1. What do they think of you?

What are their overall perceptions of you as an organisation? Explore areas such as:

  • Their view of your values and purpose including: your approach to the environment; the community; societal responsibility and sustainability
  • How they would describe or position you?
  • Your organisation’s relevance to their values and beliefs
  • Do they trust you?
  • Product and/or service quality
  • Price
  • Communications and messaging
  • Responsiveness
  • How well you look after their data
  • Developing new products or services that meet their needs and wants
  • Do they know what your organisation’s aims for the future are? Have they seen your ‘roadmap’? If so, what do they think of it?
  • What they think of your people. How does this match up with the employee view?

Techniques such as sentiment analysis can help give insight into some of these.

  1. What would they like to see you do for them next?

They may just tell you!

THE BOTTOM LINE

“Fundamentally…

…how engaged are your customers with your organisation?

…how relevant do they see what you offer to them being?”

Can you answer all of the above areas with confidence?

If you have answered ‘no’ or ‘not sure’ and need some help with this, let’s talk.

 

 

 

 

 

EFFECTIVE QUESTIONNAIRE DESIGN – TOP TIPS

 

In today’s world of big data, AI, machine learning, sentiment analysis, analytics, metrics and more why do we need to bother to use questionnaires?

The simple answer is that we still need primary research or information that is gathered for a specific purpose. Very often, the answers that we are looking for either don’t exist or are not readily available to us.

If we think about Customer Experience (CX), for example, we can glean a lot of insight from user data but we can add even more intelligence by asking specific questions.

So, the questionnaire remains an important tool for most of us. How do we make sure that we design them to be as effective as they can be?

Our top five tips are:

  1. Be clear on why you are creating a questionnaire in the first place
  • What is it you need to know?
  • What are the key answers that you want to have at the end of the survey?
  1. Make sure that the collection method or methods are relevant to your target audience
  • How and when will the questionnaire be delivered? A long paper based questionnaire is unlikely to gain many responses from an audience solely dealing with you online, for example.
  • Who needs to get the questionnaire? If you have a large customer base, does everyone need to participate to get a representative sample?
  1. Keep the number of questions to a minimum
  • However much your audience may think of you, there is a limit to the amount of time respondents will give you – no matter much you incentivise them. Time is a precious commodity so respect theirs.
  • Tell the respondents how long it will take before they start. Be honest.
  • Make the questions relevant and interesting. The respondents should not be bored with your questionnaire at any stage!
  • Make the questions clear, easy to understand and answer. Avoid confusing respondents.
  • Check and double check that all the questions are really Avoid the temptation to ask too much in one questionnaire. We call this the ‘kitchen sink approach’.
  • Put any classification questions such as where they live, their age, gender, business sector and so on at the end. Your aim is not to create a “why do they need to know this?” brake on their willingness to participate before they have even started.
  • Don’t forget to include the final ‘gold dust’

      “What other comments would you like to make?

This open question gives respondents an opportunity to give you deep insight into the one or two things that they want to tell you but you have not asked them. This can give you invaluable information.

  1. Use a variety of response formats
  • Avoid the questionnaire being too predictable (that ‘boring’ word again)
  • Make it fun/ interesting to complete if you can
  • Consider using video or audio comments, being able to select and deselect in a visual context, graphics, sliders, rating scales, drag and drop, hotspot mapping, timed responses and more. Be creative.
  • Pre-test. A ‘must’, this one. Prepopulate with responses that you either want to test or have had from pre-testing. A small number of qualitative interviews with selected respondents before designing your questionnaire is an excellent way of finding out these parameters. This keeps completion as easy as possible, will increase response rates and therefore the value of the insight you gain.
  1. Make the questionnaire attractive and easy to complete
  • Use colour
  • Use your branding and make it visually appealing. If you don’t appear to care why should they?
  • Give clear instructions. Assume nothing. Tell the respondents what you want them to do and why, where they go next etc.…
  • Use progress bars or percentage completed indicators. Reassure them that you have thought about how much of their time this will take.
  • Use numbered questions and section headings for the same reasons.
  • Use ‘routing’ and ‘piping’ within the questionnaire to personalise the respondents experience.
  • Once you’ve designed your questionnaire, test it thoroughly to ensure that it works correctly before you send it out.

Finally, make sure that you meet your obligations from a privacy and data protection compliance perspective.

Good luck with your questionnaire.

For more help and advice on research related matters contact us