Your research experience is your customer experience

Most people don’t like their experience participating in market research, and if companies don’t do anything about it, they risk losing the trust and participation of customers.

That’s one of the conclusions from the 2017 GRIT Consumer Participation in Research study. The GreenBook study found that only a quarter of customers globally are satisfied with how companies engage them in market research activities.

“We as an industry must change our ways,” writes Leonard Murphy, editor-in-chief of the GreenBook Blog and author of the study, about the results of the report. “The way we have always conducted research may have met our needs in the past, but the world has changed and people simply expect more from their relationships, including research.”

So what’s a market researcher to do?

The report offers several specific tips, including re-examining the design of your research activities. The overwhelming majority – 55 percent – said bad design turns them off, and it negatively impacts completion rates.

GreenBook also recommends avoiding deploying long surveys. The industry needs to factor in the “less is more” preference into research design, according to the study, especially for the growing mobile-first respondent base, of which 67 percent prefer surveys to come under that magic 10-minute mark.

A mutual exchange of value

GreenBook’s study suggests the survey experience is just as important as other aspects of customer engagement. To get honest customer feedback that drives smarter business decisions, companies need to prioritize the respondent experience. From your customers’ perspective, research experience is customer experience.

As Catherine Rogers, SVP of customer success at Vision Critical, recently said in a Global Research Business Network blog post, researchers need to deliver value to customers. For instance, avoiding repetitive demographic and qualifying questions helps enhance the customer experience because it allows you to “start to build authentic relationships with your customers with shorter, more targeted activities that build trust and deepen your understanding of what they want or need.”

The more important point about GreenBook’s study is that there needs to be a mutual exchange of value in the market research process. Customers need to get just as much value in the participation as much as brands do. Financial incentives are one way of rewarding customers for their participation, but we believe there’s a better approach: by demonstrating to customers that they’ve been heard.

In the e-book No Spam Surveys, Scott Miller, CEO of Vision Critical, shares his thoughts on how companies can enable that kind of relationship.

“Today’s empowered customers want to provide feedback, but they want to do so through a meaningful, two-way dialogue with companies instead of a one-way questionnaire,” says Miller. “Customers want to feel invested in the places where they do business and they want those businesses to be invested in them. They want to feel like their voices are driving product innovation and steering the direction of a customer-centric business.”

Ultimately, it’s about remembering the fundamentals of human relationships. “The more you mirror human interactions in the way you approach your customers, the more meaningful those interactions will become—both for them and for you,” Miller explains.

In the end, the message from GreenBook’s study is clear: If brands want to be truly customer-led, they must prioritize the research experience so customers will continue to enthusiastically participate in the ongoing conversation and provide useful data and honest feedback. Companies and research agencies need to reconsider their methods soon—or risk losing the trust of customers forever.