If you are interested in engaging your customers, your listening has to be customer-centric. I know you want to talk about your product and you company. We all want to talk about things that are important to us, but we only engage with people who listen at least as much as they talk.
Many marketers are intrigued with the idea of using Social Media in their go-to-market campaigns for the next product launch. They are disappointed to learn that there is usually not enough customer feedback available at the time of a launch to propel their new product to instant, viral success.
Authentic word of mouth cannot be “manufactured” by marketers when they need it, but can be leveraged very successfully when customers are engaged with their brand/category. Engaging customers is not an event within a campaign, but a long term, customer-centric strategy.
The first mile of customer engagement is a post-commerce or post-transaction strategy that invests in an ongoing experience to keep customers happy now and over time. Doing so sparks positive word of mouth and in turn influences decisions the dynamic customer journey that defines the new era of connected consumerism. If in fact getting closer to customers is a key objective, then why do many businessesneglect the first mile of customer experience?”
Every product experience starts with an expectation. The expectation was originally initiated by product announcements, industry analysts interpretations of these announcements, pundits’ reviews and commentary, customers’ word of mouth, and eventually your own experience. When this experience exceeds the original expectation, the Social Customer has a propensity to generate authentic, positive word of mouth online that is read by scores of interested consumers, who view it as the most trusted source of information about your product.
Many companies monitor social media to supplement their Customer Support channels to help resolve specific customer issues. This is surely a part of Customer Experience, but only a part. Multiple and loud accolades to customer support satisfaction may spook potential buyers by making them think that the product quality is low, because it requires so much in terms of support efforts. However, customers’ stories describing why they have purchased the product and whether it met their expectations truly help potential buyers decide if this is a right selection for them.
The goal is to learn from a very large number of customers, in a very short time how they perceive your product and whether it has met their expectations. The techniques employed in the listening process can be used during go-to-market campaigns.
With the advent of Big Data, it is estimated that 70%-80% of all data collected and stored by an enterprise is in an unstructured form. There are various approaches, technologies and methods to automate the analysis of unstructured data such as text.
However, regardless of advances in technology, some Customer Experience Management, Marketing and Customer Service professionals continue to use the accuracy argument to deny their employers access to significant operational and financial benefits. They argue that the results, produced by the textual analysis software products, are substantially less accurate than results produced by humans, and therefore it is best to ignore the vast repositories of human knowledge and disregard the immense cost of storing them until the technologies mature.
It is humorous that people with such attachment to “accuracy” usually have difficulty clearly defining what it means to them in this context or how to measure it.
Given the ambiguous nature of unstructured data, the challenges of formal definition are easy to understand. In its core we deal with an interpretation by a human or by a machine of what was said or written by another human. A single individual will interpret the same text with different results depending on a multitude of conditions, such as time of day, context in which the text is framed or the state of mind of the interpreter at that moment. In addition, no single individual can possibly handle the volumes of data available – and with each additional interpreter joining the task, the reproducibility of translation results declines exponentially.
The speed and cost are obvious arguments for the automated processing, but a machine also offers a better solution to the problem of the “accuracy” of big, unstructured data analysis. An interpretation of a single piece of text may not agree with an interpretation of a detractor at a given moment, but an average result of a large data set analysis will consistently produce measurements within 10% of a human tester’s results*.
The debate isn’t whether or not automated analysis of unstructured data is “accurate” enough. The debate is whether an enterprise can ignore their vast data reserves in the Age of the Social Consumer.
* This number is based on our internal tests that we conduct at least 3 times per year.
Our world is created with the words we use to describe it. This idea is the anchor of the creation story in the Book of Genesis that refers to the creation of the world of our conscience, not the Universe of physical objects. This idea is also at the foundations of Neurolinguistics and Neuro-Liguistic Programming.
Regardless of what your personal feelings are about organized religions or psychotherapy theories and practices, it is hard to argue that the words we use “color” our perceptions of reality. This concept is well understood and actively practiced in the fields of Marketing Communications and Politics to make us buy things we don’t need and vote for ideas we don’t share. I could provide a good number of examples that illustrate how politicians and marketers brainwash and manipulate us into actions that are not congruent with our core beliefs and values, but this would only provoke a number of angry comments, and we all are well aware of these anyway.
This post is about a different, more enlightened tack of using words for marketing communication—not to manipulate consumers to buy something they would never do without the manipulation, but to describe the qualities, features, and value of a product with words that naturally resonate with targeted consumer segments.
This approach differs from traditional marketing of shouting because it is not guaranteed that the loudest shouter sells the most products. It uses market intelligence distilled from customer reviews. Here are the steps:
People who bought your products, happy with their purchase, and advocate your products to other consumers are your target market segment, whether they conveniently fit with your original plans for demographics or persona or not. I am not suggesting abandoning segmentation planning during new product development process. It is a critical step, but it is based on assumptions. Therefore, after the launch, it would be silly to ignore the reality.
Listen and learn how these people experience your product or service. What are the most important features or attributes of their experience? Learn the words, expressions, and tonality they use to describe them. The emotions your product advocates experience enjoying your product would likely resonate with people like them.
Revise your product marcom collateral to leverage the words and expressions you have learned from the happy customers to communicate value of your product more effectively to your target segment.
This method would only work if you do have a product that makes someone happy. And this is why it is not a manipulation.
In practical terms, you have to have a product or service that makes many people happy before you can benefit from this practice. Our clients use Opinion Miner® software to analyze hundreds or thousands of customer reviews to distill statistically meaningful number of words and expressions that could be used to produce measurably more effective copy of marketing communication. However, the software can only help you to sell a good product better, but if the product you sell does not make many people happy, it can help to learn why consumers choose to buy similar products from your competitors.
Here is the Q2 2012 update. These links – Q1 2012 and 2011 – will take you to the previous reports. This edition includes 353 smart phone models and the aggregation of 104,691 unsolicited customer reviews. We have used the Opinion Miner® software to extract specific attributes of customer experiences with these smart phones and to measure the customers’ sentiments for each attribute. In the interest of consistency, we again filtered for smart phones that have been reviewed during the last 3 months to focus on currently sold models.
Disclaimer – Nokia is our client, however neither Nokia, nor any other company or organization, have sponsored or influenced this study.
Customer Reviews per Model
Only the 51 models that were actually shipped to paying customers during the past quarter are included in this study, as we are interested only in actual customer experience, not in marketing accolades.
If you are a new reader, I would like to stress that no survey or focus groups methods were used to collect data for this study. Please check our methodology if you are interested.
The most customer-reviewed smart phones that made through the filters for Q2 2012 are the same models as the last quarter, but their content contributions have slowed down dramatically during the last couple of months – HTC Thunderbolt (5,892), Samsung Droid Charge (2,009), and Motorola Droid Bionic (1,633). Obviously, the time of a phone introduction impacts a total, aggregated number of customer reviews published for these devices. Click on any image below to make it larger.
Customer Reviews per Brand
The enormous number of customer reviews of the Thunderbolt, which is almost obsolete by now, keeps the HTC brand as the most reviewed one by their customers. We anticipate the next report to reflect this change.
It is worth mentioning the trends of a dramatic decline for LG in a number of customer reviews and steady rise of popularity for Nokia (see figure below). We have studied before the correlation between number of customer reviews published online and a number of units shipped, and therefore found it important to use it for comparison. These trends suggest similar dynamics in customer purchases.
Customer Reviews per Operating System
The reviews of Android phones absolutely dwarf ALL other operating systems, and the trend does not suggest any major change. One thing that is worth noting is the growth in numbers of reviews of Windows phones from 1% at the year-end to 4% at the end of Q2 2012. It would be interesting to see if this trend continues.
iPhone aficionados are a very finicky crowd, and even though the earlier models continue selling, virtually no reviews of those are still published by their purchasers. This fact explains the precipitous drop in iOS share of the reviews after the end of 2011.
Customer Satisfaction per Operating System
Customer satisfaction with Android phones continues improving from the previous reports, but Windows phones satisfaction has seen the most dramatic increase since the previous quarter – 18%, while customer satisfaction with Blackberry phones keeps sliding down. In fact, five out of ten smart phones with highest customer satisfaction scores are Windows models.
It is worth repeating that these scores are the aggregate, average satisfaction with the phones and not with their operating systems. We will look at Customer Satisfaction with an operating system later in this post.
This time, the Samsung Galaxy S Blaze smart phone came with the highest general satisfaction score of 1.81, exceeding its customers expectations by 81% (N=106). The Motorola Atrix 2 (CSAT=1.78/N=186) and Nokia Lumia 710 (CSAT=1.72, N=318) were the closest contenders while LG Cosmos (0.79/590), Samsung Intercept (0.88/1,186) and Blackberry Curve 3G 9330 (0.91/410) have disappointed their customers the most. The two out of the last three have been on the list last quarter, as LG Cosmos’ reputation has continued to sink deeper.
Attributes of Customer Experience by Importance
Our Market Intelligence Analysis of the segment indicates that the following Attributes of Customer Experience are most important to the customers:
This 2-minute video explains the methodology for this chart in greater detail -
More specific insights in customer perception required the application of additional filters to select models representing different Operating Systems in significant numbers. The following models were selected:
The graph below shows Customer Satisfaction scores for the smart phones Reliability experience. Blackberry Bold 9930 is the only model from this sample that disappointed its customers
Not surprisingly the iPhone continues to dazzle their customers with the quality of its Display. However, all models included into this analysis earned very high marks. A score 1.0 represent “Satisfied” value as defined in our methodology and interpreted by our algorithms as an equivalent of this statement, “I experienced what I have expected”.
In the interest of the space limitations, I would like to suggest that more details and customer feedback verbatim are available on request via access to the dynamic dashboard for this segment. I will be happy to provide the link free of charge.
In this post I will describe how to use Market Intelligence for reducing perception of risk in the mind of a retail buyer. This knowledge will help you to make your negotiation processes shorter and your promotional subsidies lower.
So what are the challenges of getting your product on the shelf?
It should not be that difficult and expensive. After all, you are offering them an opportunity to make money, right? Right, but when you ask someone to sell your product, you also ask them to make an investment in:
Shelf space in their stores. That space produces revenue only if the product is selling well. They do not know now how well your product will sell. Your sales forecasts are based on your assumptions and your biases, but you ask them to accept a risk of losing revenue and bear the cost of their shelf space.
Promotional cost. Channels need to bring traffic, potentially interested in your product, into their “space.” And that is not cheap, particularly if your product is relatively new. Your sales forecast is not based just on early adopters success.
Cost of transaction. Even if your products fly of their shelves, there is no guarantee of profit. The cost of returns and exchanges can ruin the margins very quickly if customer satisfaction is not met. Overpromising by your marcomm may create expectations in the minds of your customers that cannot be met by the product experience. Substandard QA can result in Reliability crisis that will tax the channel’s margin and negatively impact their Brand value.
Product training cost. The employees of the channels have to understand the benefits of your product to recommend it to their customers. Training takes time and money. If there are too many products on the shelves and proper training investment is not done, your product will not likely be selling well. A good example is that Microsoft complains about mobile retailers’ sales force ignoring Windows phones as the reason for their low market share. Another example is described in the Customer Intelligence Analysis of Best Buy Downfall.
Remember – the channels have options to carry other products that compete in the same space and present lesser risk in their estimation. So here is the challenge: What can you do to help them reduce their risk assessment of your product?
You can start by watching this video:
Like this video? Share this tweetable -
“Advertising can help you sell good products, but only your customers can help you build a great Brand!” – Click to Tweet
Bring the third party, higher authority to this negotiation
That is right! The buyers do not believe your sales forecast and the market research you have paid for. They also know how easy it is to solicit desirable response by posing cleverly loaded questions in your surveys and focus groups. The buyers want to know why consumers will choose your product over those already available in the stores. And they want to hear this directly from consumers, without solicitations and influence over their opinions. From the consumers whose opinions matter because they have spent their own money to experience products like yours.
1. Identify the products you want to displace.
2. Leverage their customers’ experiences to find your product competitive purchase drivers.
3. Quantify the impact of this information on your sales projections, and share the evidence with your channel partner.
4. Celebrate and watch the product rolling off their shelves, but don’t forget to monitor customers’ feedback to make sure they still think your product is worth buying over other competitors.
Let me know if you want to ask any specific question privately about how this strategy could be implemented in your situation, or share your thoughts about this Marketing Intelligence advice by leaving a comment below.
Amplified Analytics launches NPS® capabilities for unstructured Voice of Customer content analysis.
The leading provider of Market Intelligence extracted from aggregated, unstructured Voice of Customer introduces new capabilities for enhancement of its business clients’ NPS® (Net Promoter Score) programs.
NPS, Net Promoter and Net Promoter Score are registered trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company and Fred Reichheld.
Richmond, CA – (date) – Amplified Analytics, a leader in the field of Customer Experience Opinion Mining, announced today the launch of a first of its kind application that measures Customer Satisfaction without use of traditional survey methods. The application is designed to process high volumes of unstructured consumer generated stories, describing customer experience with specific products or services, and to measure their Customer Satisfaction in the standard NPS format. In addition the system enables Voice of Customer and Customer Experience Management professionals to automatically extract specific attributes of customer experience that impact Customer Satisfaction scores.
Apart from reducing cost and time turnaround of processing their own Vice of Customer content, Amplified Analytics clients report additional benefits of this approach:
Ability to include unsolicited Voice of Customer content found in Social Media, that brings much more statistically representative results;
An opportunity to generate Competitive Marketing Intelligence by producing NPS scores for competing products/services that are consistent with internal Customer Satisfaction ratings;
Automated classification of the content to produce underlying reasons for Customer Satisfaction ratings, along with measurements of their relative impact on the aggregate Net Promoter Score.
NPS Voice of Customer reporting is powered by Amplified Analytics’ proprietary Opinion Miner software platform. Amplified Analytics built it’s reputation as a leader in Customer Experience analytics by providing Social Media Marketing Research services to marketing organizations of Consumer Electronics, Software and Hospitality companies. The Marketing Intelligence produced helps companies identify why their customers choose one product or service over another and what product enhancements increase customer satisfaction.
About Amplified Analytics
Amplified Analytics is a Richmond, California-based technology company providing Social Media Marketing research and intelligence services powered by feedback from consumers, which is aggregated from multiple sources including publicly available information from product-review sites. Through the use of the company’s reports and Customer Experience analytical data, Amplified Analytics’ clients are able to access the true voice of the customer. Amplified Analytics automatically transforms customer reviews, call center transcripts, emails, chats and other interactions into insight that helps its clients better target consumers’ needs, as well as improve product and service offerings.
“Consumers are overwhelmed by the volume of choice and information they’re exposed to, and marketers’ relentless efforts to “engage” with them.”
Simplicity is NOT limitation of choices. In fact, the complexity of offers often tends to mask the fact that multiple offerings are not really different from each other. Marketing noise overloads consumers’ cognitive capabilities and drives them to alternative sources of information to help them make purchasing decisions. That undermines the purpose of marketing communications and diminishes quality of overall Customer Experience. The customer satisfaction scores often reflect that.
We all read news earlier this year of Samsung overtaking Apple as the largest manufacturer of smart phones; however, the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index survey still finds Apple iPhone customers to be much more satisfied than any other smart phone customers. It is interesting to note that our own Customer Intelligence research shows that
” Apple 4S satisfaction has really jumped 12% with retirement of iPhone 4.”
while only one Samsung model out of dozens, marketed at that period (Q1 2012), earned similar accolades from their purchasers. How many of you heard about Infuse?
The question is, why does Samsung (and other companies) make it so complicated for consumers to choose their products? If product specifications differences are so important, why are there thousands of consumers searching the Internet with inquiries like “which smart phone should I get iPhone or XYZ?”?
One may say that these questions are not relevant anymore since Apple’s lock on the smart phone market was broken. I would like to suggest that the number of units sold does not automatically translate into profitability. Customer satisfaction much more closely correlates with higher margins. Samsung has to subsidize carriers to sell their phones, while the same carriers have to subsidize Apple for privilege of selling iPhones.
“It is unrealistic for any company, even Apple, to hold 100% of any market. The iPhone will never have majority share. It does not have to. What matters is profit share, and that is where Apple is winning. Apple earns73% of the cell phone industry’s profits with just 8.8% market share. ”
This is just an example of a simple choice vs traditional approach to marketing, and it is not limited to smart headset market. Consumers do not buy technical specifications, feature sets or functions – that is what your engineers sell.
Let’s try to apply this wisdom to Product Marketing and Marketing Strategy. For eample, your company expects a product to generate specific and positive cash flow over a period of its life, and your customers expect the product to reliably perform functions you have promised them in your marketing communications.
I would like to pose that pro-active management of your customers expectations will dramatically improve the probability of your product’s success.
It is important to take a look at the entire cycle of creation and management of expectations process:
Pre-Announcement Speculation Stage- Think about rumors and speculations about the “next” version or release that start to appear out of nowhere soon after a new product is launched. Regardless of the sources or “accuracy” of the information floating around, the consumers started to expect that Apple iPad3 will have smaller size/track form than iPad2 just two quarters after iPad2 was launched.Who knows how they will react on the announcement day if this expectation is not met? Should the speculations be ignored? Can they provide early predictions, hints and insights that help to form consumer expectations? Can they negatively affect the market performance of the current model as they influence consumers to delay their purchase until speculated new model is launched? Most importantly should they influence the strategic planning process?
Product Announcement and/or Launch- Now, the mysteries of a product’s specifications and major functions are revealed to the public; however, the interpretation of this data is done not by the consumers at large, but by a relatively small group of analysts, pundits and bloggers who are well aware of expectations created at pre-announcement stage. Some of them probably have created or at least communicated these rumors and speculations. Now they have to reconcile the speculations with the announced specifications, and of course to write about it because that is what they do.Many uncertainties are removed now, but performance speculations are sometimes intensified. A good example is the RIM PlayBook battery’s poor performance media storm which somehow petered out by the time the tablet started shipping. By that time the PlayBook was perceived by consumers at large as a problematic product. I am not suggesting that this issue alone caused the tablet to fail RIM’s expectations; however, a mismanagement of “signals” like this one is not a recipe for success.
Pre-shipment- It is quite a common practice today to let influential industry/market analysts experience product before the general population of consumers. There are pretty strict guidelines involved in this process to maintain proper relationship and ethical standards. I am not writing about a practice of buying endorsements to full consumers; this practice is now illegal. You probably read critical acclaims to a movie that yet to be released to the theaters or criticisms of video games that are not available yet to players. The idea is to create a positive impression enough that would engage early adopters into a first wave of product moving through the channels.The articles and reviews published by the pre-shipment stage influencers are a gold mine of the feedback for potential “last chance” reconciliation between expectations and experience. However the time for analysis of this feedback, the identification of “low hanging fruit” opportunities for changes, their prioritization and the implementation is very, very short.
Product Shipped – Now, the early adopters – your very first customers - got the product in their hands. Their expectations are formed by your marketing messages, their previous experiences with your brand, and the reviews of the pundits published during the pre-shipment stage. These early customers start to share their experiences generating Word of Mouth (WoM) online as well as off line which, according to multiple research studies ( example 1, example 2), is the most trusted source of information that influences consumer decision to purchase your product, or select the competitor’s.Many marketing pros told me that they are aware of the WoM’s importance, and confessed to searching and reading as much as they possibly can. Some use Social Media monitoring tools to detect a sentiment and to know whether their product is liked or not, but cannot figure out WHY. None of these approaches can detect and consistently measure the difference between customer’s expectations and experience, but it can give you some hints. The critical question is, “what are you going to do with such information?”
We have seen the most powerful results achieved and the most attractive ROI, when marketing used the feedback analysis results to:
Engage market players by clearly communicating these results and the company’s plans to act on them;
Fine tune Marketing Communications messages and media to resonate with customer’s perspective found and measured in WoM.
This approach may involve multiple departments in some organizations, from Product Marketing to Marketing Communications, PR and Customer Service, to mention a few. Each has its own perspective on interpretation and value of customer feedback and WoM – some treat it as Crisis Management and some ignore as anecdotal trivia. However, this is the best expression of how well your product met customer expectations well before the sales numbers spell it for you. By that time the “game” may be over.
A few months ago, I wrote in this blog about Musing on difference between successful product and Innovation. This article was re-published in a few online venues and generated a few critical comments about lack of clarity in definition of terms, specifically about what makes a product “innovative.” Many people would agree that most products that the market considers innovative often do not include any technological breakthroughs.
I keep struggling with the definition of what is an innovative blockbuster product (or service), and this is yet another attempt: A truly innovative product is the one that delights its customers by anticipating their needs before they knew they have them. In other words, if you want to develop a blockbuster product, you should stop trying to better serve the existing needs of your customers and instead try to discover needs that customers may not realize they have and address them.
That definition was not quite satisfactory either, so I kept thinking about it, and I think this is a better version: An innovative product is the one that significantly simplifies customer experience of performing the “job” they “hired” this product to do.
I think simplification of customer experience in achieving the desired outcome is an ultimate goal of any product creator. In my opinion, the experience starts with the recognition that the product is a potential “candidate” for the “job” on hand, and continues from a process of acquisition of the product through different steps until the desired result is achieved. If a product can reduce the number of steps in that sequence by 30% or more without sacrificing the quality of the experience or by improving it, it is truly an innovative product.
So how one goes about creating one?
1. Stop seeing a product as a collection of functions and features. Specifications are not what makes a product innovative. Get a clear understanding of what is a “job” this product will apply to do.
2. Stop thinking of “competition” as products similar to yours, or products in the same price range and sitting on a store shelf next to yours. Think of “competition” as any alternative candidate for the product’s “job” regardless of technology, price or package. Would you think of a digital camera as a competitor of a mobile phone?
3. Gain deep empathy of customers’ experience on their journey to a desired outcome. Learn what is important to them, not to your engineers or marketing people. No disrespect intended towards your partners, but they will be first to thank you when your focus on customer experience will result in a truly innovative product.
We have developed a webinar “Why Companies Do a Poor Job Planning New Products” that provides more details about the ideas and process involved. Please click here to view the schedule.
One of the interesting challenges Marketers are charged with is to make their product or service stand out in minds of the potential customers. Those who are not blessed with analytical talents commonly slide into well bitten path to differentiate by specifications or price. These approaches do not really require any expense and/or curiosity to seek deep understanding of the customers, but they are ultimately led to erosion of profit margins and brand equity. If you, brand “owner,” don’t care about the customers, the customers don’t care about your brand. Advertising alone could carry the brands a great distance in the “good, old days” but in the age of Social Customer, an advertising message is expected to resonate with customer needs or it will cause more harm to the brand image and product sales than good. When it comes to a product reputation or brand equity, the notion that “Any publicity is good publicity” is not the best strategy.
None of it is new to most marketers and some companies are spending serious money to develop processes for discovery of consumer/customer insights. However, most are struggling to convert the findings into specific actions. Measuring financial impact of these actions seems to be an even more formidable challenge. I would like to explore these challenges and perhaps offer some ideas for dealing with them.
Many marketers today are too insulated from their customers to develop a true, genuine understanding and empathy of customer experience with the products or services they market. One of the reasons is the use of outdated market segmentation methodologies based on demographic data that was developed to help marketers to quantify and forecast, but do not provide much help in understanding the needs and discovering opportunities for differentiation. More evolved methodologies that attempt to develop customer “personas” are much more helpful in learning needs of the specific, pre-defined groups of customers. Scott Sehlhorst of Tyner Blain offered a wonderful explanation of how such methodology can be used.
Use of both abovementioned approaches together will likely to improve your product traction, but will fall short of true understanding you need to differentiate your product because everything you have learned so far is based on your own original assumptions. You start with a hypothesis of who your potential customers are, what functions and features they would like in your product, and how much they will pay for it. Then you proceed with a number of potential customers’ validation and advisory activities that confirmed or cancelled your assumptions with various degrees of certainty. However, you still don’t know if the group and personas (within the group) are your best potential customers since you cannot possibly validate that with every potential segment. Additionally, I don’t think it is possible to effectively differentiate – by design, packaging or message – without ultimate understanding how the customers experience the product. All the steps you have taken so far cannot give you this knowledge for 2 reasons:
You have started at the “wrong” place – i.e., demographic segmentation of market is a wrong starting point. Much better starting question is – what products/services my future best customers are hiring today to do the job they need done. I use here terminology and concepts developed by Clayton Christensen. Check this video where he explains why the basic thinking taught in business schools and promulgated by consultants is killing innovation and the US economy if you are not familiar with his work.
Any knowledge of customer preference you have gained so far is company-biased because it was obtained by methods of inquiry and/or moderation. The one who forms a question or selects the subject of discussion ultimately influences any possible outcome. I do not believe that there is such a thing as an unbiased research, and I prefer customer’s bias to a company’s bias for the purpose of learning how a customer experiences a product or a service. This is my preference because regardless of our opinion, that is what they are going to use while selecting to purchase your product or a product of your competitor.
I am not dismissing the value of traditional methodologies off hand, but I am suggesting that substantially better results can be achieved by using triangulation of these with true insights of customer experience. There are plenty of customer-generated content available online for aggregation and analysis; however, even if you find difficult to find good data, we had very good results by asking customers wide open questions designed not for validation and easy tabulations, but to help them tell their stories:
What made you interested in a product XYZ?
How and where do you use it?
What was your experience so far?
Let them know that you asking because you want to learn how to make their experience better and promise that you will let them know the results of the study. Most people are motivated and willing to help. These types of questions are traditionally reserved for qualitative research that in the past was considered expensive, and the results are often dismissed as statistically not representative as they are normally reserved for a small number of customers. Those who try to find insights manually in large volumes of data are quickly get overwhelmed by “drinking from a fire hose.” However, advances in opinion mining technologies significantly reduced cost of high volume content analysis and can offer benefits of qualitative research and statistically representative numbers to back up the value of insights. In the words of Clay Shirky, “There is no information overflow-it is a filter failure.”
Good use of right technology can provide a marketer with a substantial and representative number of clues and hints to how customers think and feel about their experience with a given product or a group of products. However, no automation or outsourcing can replace your creative power of interpreting these clues into actionable insight. You can see examples regularly published on our Google+ feed.
The language customers who used to describe their experience will also provide the source of how to communicate with the market in the way the message will resonate and connect on the emotional level.