Evolving to a Customer Mindset

Some self-reflection

A friend of mine asked me what I did for a living and after I started answering with the typical corporate jargon I saw the bored look on his face that translated clearly to: WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?

Defining Primary Research

This got me thinking there has to be a better way to explain what I do, what we do, in this elusive and yet so important industry. It’s far from boring and dare I say it’s… a buoy signaling our human side in an ocean of technology.

And yes, you can do it all through the magical art of conversation, asking questions, and… yes, you guessed it, listening. In my case, this is primary research, a core tenet of the market intelligence industry. When we think of it, we often imagine charts, focus-group rooms, surveys, graphs, and data, data, data, data, data. But at its core, it’s the alchemy of connecting and listening to customers. No matter the market research method, tech, or party spearheading the operation, the purpose is always to understand someone. And you’ve all used it in one way or another, especially with technology, (ahem, Google Forms) making it far more accessible than it used to be. Great news, right?

Considering the Tech Obstacles

Yes and no. It’s this very same accessible technology that runs the risk of two machines talking to each other; a lifeless survey and a bot. 

Consider the ramifications for a second. I’ll give you a minute…

Frankly, one must have a leap of faith to trust survey data these days. An understandable concern that anyone who truly cares about making accurate decisions ought to have.

Why does this all matter?

For now, I get all the arguments that stand for automation/AI, and how it is solving the problem of scale. But…do you see the problem here? If we want to speak with real people, and those don’t come easy or cheap, no matter what your marketing manager is telling you, we need to make some drastic changes and reexamine the process. So let’s go back to the basics. 

  • The whole purpose of primary research (ie. going to the source – the person – and asking them questions) is to help you understand your people (customers/prospects) more deeply.
  • And, building meaningful relations is no walk in the park, right? It takes a cocktail of patience, respect, trust, and of course, genuine interest. I know I sound simplistic and probably even preachy now, but I think this is exactly what we need in this day and age. 
  • Your customers were curious about what you have and so they gave you a chance and tried you. You need to pay them the same courtesy and be curious about them. But maybe you’re thinking, “We already know our customers” or “We have a ton of demographic and behavioral analytics about them.”

Less Data, More Empathy

Do you understand their life? Do you fine-tune your offering to fit within it?

  • For instance, this Airbnb ad, where they are tapping into a learned insight about their customers (staying in a hotel room sucks with young families because you have to go to bed at the same time as them) and showing them how they are listening and offering a benefit.
  • Or LEGO, with their Idea Platform, where they take fans’ winning ideas and turn them into official sets.

Building a relationship with your customers should be the core focus as this is what will lay the groundwork for trust, and ultimately, a healthier relationship.

Tips on How to Begin

So here’s what we’d recommend to get started thinking in this way:

  • Start with who you already have access to: Study your customer’s needs and wants. Use short surveys or interviews to seek their thoughts and feedback. Then, show them how you’ve listened to them.
  • Expand to those you haven’t won over (yet): Start in the same way, a conversation. Since you don’t already have access to these people, this becomes a bit more complicated. The “sampling” world, as we call it, or “getting access to people to have a conversation with you” industry is riddled with bots and professional survey takers. So, surround yourself with good partners who you can trust to provide credible recommendations for you.
  • Be considerate: It’s not humane to send a 15-20 minute survey to someone you don’t know and expect real answers. This is equivalent to asking someone you just met to help you move all your furniture to your new home. If that’s you, then you have bigger problems.

Remember, in this AI and technology-cloaked world, your brand’s human side is its superpower. 

Want to see how Cashew can put this into action for you? Let’s chat.

Leaving You with a Quote

Perhaps no one said it better than Lisa Bodell when she addressed the advent of inevitable change. “Change cannot be put on people. The best way to instill change is to do it with them. Create it with them.”