Customer research is such a great reality check. It challenges the status quo and almost invariably provides the odd surprise here and there.
It’s a way of finding out what customers really think – particularly when undertaken by someone outside the sales process, who is not involved in the day-to-day business relationship.
I’ve been doing customer research for over twenty years now and continue to be surprised by what my customers’ customers will share with me – things that just don’t get brought up otherwise. The need for product innovation, partnering opportunities and invaluable competitor information; these are some of the examples that spring to mind from recent projects.
But the real value of customer research is found when information is gathered systematically by an experienced researcher, so that trends can be distinguished from what might otherwise be hearsay. And when trends can be identified with confidence, the work takes on a strategic dimension.
You see, customer research should deliver much more than just a series of numbers; it should provide the strategic insight which enables strategy to be founded on robust customer value propositions.