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Qualitative Research in Customer Experience: When it’s better than Quantitative

primary research

Is your company thinking about:

• Changing your customer service or support model?
• Refining your product offering?
• Developing a new solution?
• Evolving your messaging and positioning?

These are just a few common examples of the types of decisions that can have a profound impact on a company’s ability to retain, acquire, or expand customer engagements.

At Satrix Solutions, we believe that business leaders should rarely make important strategic decisions without a deep understanding of the needs, preferences, expectations, motivations, and satisfaction levels of existing and prospective customers. That means acquiring robust data and feedback rather than relying on anecdotal information or the vocal minority (aka the squeaky wheel).

Acquiring customer feedback in a thoughtful and deliberate way could validate or entirely refute the action being considered, but it’s more likely to supply valuable context that will help inform the approach and better anticipate customer reaction.

What’s the best way to collect the customer insights needed?

This is heavily dependent on what questions you want to be answered. Maybe the data needed already exists inside the company, such as customer usage or support ticket data. It could be the case that the insights needed are available as secondary research conducted by Gartner, Forrester, or a Venture Capital firm. Employees, especially those on the front lines, are often a valuable resource – especially if they’ve been diligent at documenting conversations with customers and prospects.

However, primary research is often required to gather the information needed, which involves going directly to your existing and/or prospective customers in your target market to ask the right questions. If that’s the case, the next consideration should be whether it’s better if the research project is quantitative, qualitative, or a hybrid approach.

Many companies are already surveying customers by email or ‘in-app’ and the (largely) quantitative data generated may be enough. But in helping our B2B clients answer important questions such as the ones listed above, we’ve found that a qualitative research component is often necessary, and beneficial.

That’s because qualitative research enables a much deeper and more meaningful view into the participant’s reactions and thinking. It helps uncover the larger ‘why’ that can’t always be identified with quantitative data alone.

Common Qualitative Customer Experience Research Efforts Include:

• Semi-structured interviews, such as Sales Win-Loss, Churn Analysis, Perception, or Product Research
• Account Business Reviews (QBRs / EBRs)
 Customer Advisory Boards / Product Councils

In each of the circumstances above, business leaders, front-line personnel, or a 3rd party consulting firm (such as Satrix) with experienced interviewers or facilitators will have the opportunity to engage directly with customers and prospects in-person or via Zoom.

Using open-ended questions, interviewers have a greater opportunity to ask follow-up questions, probe for additional information, and draw out an individual’s thought process. Also, the direct link to the ‘voice-of-the-customer’ often proves to be profoundly impactful as the leadership team can better understand context, tone, considerations, and sensitivities.

The Benefit of Qualitative Research in B2B

A well-designed qualitative research effort that poses the right questions to the right people will generate a rich understanding of attitudes, perceptions, and motivations. Not only is the feedback gleaned a treasure trove of valuable insights from your most important personas, but the knowledge acquired will allow vital strategic decisions to be made with much greater confidence.

Interested in learning more? Schedule a discovery call today.

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