You’ve talked to your customers. You’ve done the work. You have your research.
Now, what are you going to do with it?
Many companies conduct amazing research to understand their customers, but more often than not, this research rarely sees the light of day.
Quantitative and qualitative data from customer survey results, user testing recordings, and interview transcripts can all lead to important learnings for your organization – but all this data can be overwhelming. Without planning and process, good research won’t be used to its full potential to improve the customer journey.
The good news is that there are a few steps you can take to help your future self and your team use the data you collect.
Give your research a home
Step 1: Consolidate
The first steps of using customer data include creating a home for it, organizing insights, and sharing with others. Create a home for the research by pulling reports in one visible, accessible place. This could include:
- A shared Google Drive or Sharepoint
- A dedicated customer research Slack channel
- An Airtable or Notion base
- A research tool such as Dovetail
Whatever you choose, it needs to be something that (a) keeps your research reports in mostly one place and (b) is known by and accessible to the appropriate team members.
Step 2: Organize
Once your research has a home, you’ll want to use some system to keep any observations you pull out of data reports or interview transcripts segmented as well. One easy way to do this is to use tags.
These tags should highlight key insights and relate to the business goal in your original research plan. Insights could be top objections, new features, search motivations, pain points, customer journey points, and so on.
Use some sort of system to highlight, grab, or tag parts of your transcripts that fit these bullets.
And for the perfectionists out there, keep in mind there’s no one right or wrong way to tag your research. A minimal approach may work well for a lean team just starting research, whereas something more extensive may be ideal for a larger team with thousands of inputs.
Step 3: Socialize (aka share what you find!)
While it’s good for you to be knee-deep in the research, it’s even better for your teammates to jump in there with you, too. Siloed data is debilitated data, so make sure various team leads can access it. (Note: if the research contains any sensitive customer data, be thoughtful about how you secure and distribute this.)
Remember, customer experience spans every team and aspect of your company. So, give every team access to what the customer is experiencing so they can contribute ideas for improving the holistic journey.
Identify patterns and form insights
Once you’ve organized, tagged, and distributed your research, you’re in a good position to step back and analyze. Researchers sometimes call this finding the “arc of the data” — the overall trends that move like a current through what you’ve collected.
You likely have some gut ideas based on the research you’ve done. But you mustn’t immediately run with these. For one, that’s a good way to introduce bias. Relying on the gut alone in research (much like in testing) also leads teams on wild goose chases.
Instead, take a step back and look for overarching trends like customer segments and potential company improvements.
Generate potential improvement ideas to address insights
This leads to the next thing you’ll want to do with your insights: map those observations to areas of your business.
A customer isn’t going to say, “You know, if you had advertised your fitness gear to me as suiting up for ‘me time,’ I totally would’ve bought it.” Nope. It’s part of your job to identify insights and then map those insights to potential improvements in your brand. This involves:
Hypothesizing potential improvements: Because you’re talking with customers about their experience and journey, the insights you collect can apply to any area of your business. Hypothesize how you might make improvements based on the feedback from your customers in areas like:
- Email Sequences
- Social Media
Prioritizing and testing those improvements: Once you have a handful of hypotheses, you can start crafting experiments and testing improvements. Generative research gives you evidence of what to test and which directions to test in — but you still need to test for validation.
Customer research is essential to creating exceptional customer experiences. And the formula I’ve shared can help you craft just that.
Want to keep learning?
Grow your expertise in customer research. Get access to a one-page research plan, learn how to conduct effective 1:1 interviews, and get inspiration from 6 brands that successfully used customer research to uncover needs and improve their business in our free e-book: How to Conduct Customer Research to Improve Your Customer Experience.
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About the Author
Katie Encabo is the Customer Success Manager at The Good. She focuses on supporting and improving the experience of top-performing ecommerce and SaaS growth teams as they optimize the digital experience for their users.