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Customer Research

What is customer research.

Customer research is conducted so as to identify customer segments, needs, and behaviors. It can be carried out as part of market research, user research, or design research. Even so, it always focuses on researching current or potential customers of a specific brand or product in order to identify unmet customer needs and/or opportunities for business growth.

Customer research can focus on simple demographics of an existing or potential customer group (such as age, gender, and income level). Indeed, these considerations are vital determinants of a product’s target audience. However, such research also often seeks to understand various behaviors and motivators —factors which place a product’s use and potential on a higher level of study. Thus, the goal of such research is to expose clear details about who is—or will be—using a product as well as the reasons behind their doing so and how they go about using it (including the contextual areas of “where” and “when”). Customer research may be conducted via a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods such as interviews, surveys, focus groups, and ethnographic field studies. It also commonly involves doing desk research of online reviews, forums, and social media to explore what customers are saying about a product.

While customer research is usually conducted as part of a design project, it is also often conducted in other departments of an organization. In some cases, customer research is part of marketing—for instance, to ensure that marketing campaigns have the right focus. In other cases, it can be carried out as part of concept development or ideation so as to identify opportunities for future products, services, or features. In any case, such research is an essential ingredient in keeping the end users in clear sight long before the end of any design phase.

Literature on Customer Research

Here’s the entire UX literature on Customer Research by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:

Learn more about Customer Research

Take a deep dive into Customer Research with our course User Research – Methods and Best Practices .

How do you plan to design a product or service that your users will love , if you don't know what they want in the first place? As a user experience designer, you shouldn't leave it to chance to design something outstanding; you should make the effort to understand your users and build on that knowledge from the outset. User research is the way to do this, and it can therefore be thought of as the largest part of user experience design .

In fact, user research is often the first step of a UX design process—after all, you cannot begin to design a product or service without first understanding what your users want! As you gain the skills required, and learn about the best practices in user research, you’ll get first-hand knowledge of your users and be able to design the optimal product—one that’s truly relevant for your users and, subsequently, outperforms your competitors’ .

This course will give you insights into the most essential qualitative research methods around and will teach you how to put them into practice in your design work. You’ll also have the opportunity to embark on three practical projects where you can apply what you’ve learned to carry out user research in the real world . You’ll learn details about how to plan user research projects and fit them into your own work processes in a way that maximizes the impact your research can have on your designs. On top of that, you’ll gain practice with different methods that will help you analyze the results of your research and communicate your findings to your clients and stakeholders—workshops, user journeys and personas, just to name a few!

By the end of the course, you’ll have not only a Course Certificate but also three case studies to add to your portfolio. And remember, a portfolio with engaging case studies is invaluable if you are looking to break into a career in UX design or user research!

We believe you should learn from the best, so we’ve gathered a team of experts to help teach this course alongside our own course instructors. That means you’ll meet a new instructor in each of the lessons on research methods who is an expert in their field—we hope you enjoy what they have in store for you!

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Customer Research 101: Definition, Types, and Methods

5 January 2024

Table Of Contents

What is Customer Research?

Why is customer research important, types of customer research.

  • 6 Customer Research Methods
  • How SurveySparrow Can Help

Do you want to improve your marketing or product? Then, customer research can help.

Your customer is at the heart of all your business decisions. In fact, everything revolves around a customer. A business is about having a paying customer, and it wouldn’t exist without one.

The effectiveness of your product or marketing depends on how well you know your customers. When you know your customers better, you can make better product or marketing decisions.

In this article, we break down:

  • What customer research is
  • Why it’s valuable for your business
  • Different types of customer research
  • Six customer research methods you can use to refine and grow your business

Customer research (or consumer research ) is a set of techniques used to identify the needs, preferences, behaviors, and motivations of your current or potential customers.

Simply put, the consumer research process is a way for businesses to collect information and learn from their customers so they can serve them better.

Businesses typically conduct customer research to uncover new insights on their customers. They then use these newly uncovered insights to improve their product, craft an effective marketing strategy, and more.

Here are 2 key questions customer research helps you answer:

  • Who are my ideal customers? Who is the best fit (or worst fit) for our product?
  • What channels can I use to find and communicate with my ideal customers?

Online survey tools like SurveySparrow can help you answer these questions. With omnichannel survey distribution, snazzy data visualization, and 1,500+ integrations with your favorite tools, SurveySparrow simplifies customer research for your GTM and product teams.

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A. How well do you know your customers? Not knowing enough about your customers can cost you time and money.

For example, a recent survey revealed that 46% of customers broke up with a brand because they received irrelevant content pushes.

Successful marketers realize that research is necessary to understand and cater to the ever-changing needs of today’s customers. According to a study by Coschedule:

  • Successful marketers are 242% more likely to conduct audience research at least once every quarter.
  • 56% of the study’s most elite marketers research at least once a month.

B. You shouldn’t make assumptions about your customers’ preferences or needs. You have to go out there and get opinions from real customers.

C. You need to go beyond your general idea about your customers. The more you understand your customers, the better you’ll be able to serve them with your product or service.

D. If you want to make your product the best in the market, you need to identify any unmet needs and learn how well your product serves the needs of your current customers.

E. Customer research helps you learn more about your customers, both the potential and existing ones. Serving your customers better than the alternatives starts with understanding them better and more deeply.

F. Here are other key reasons why you should research customers:

  • Know the Why : Your analytics dashboard merely tells you what your customers do. Only research can help you understand why they do that.
  • Validate Assumptions and Best Practices : In most cases, guesswork leads to terrible decisions. Your customers might not need what you think they need. And what works for most businesses might not work for you. The only real way to know is to talk to your customers.

Customer research can be done in two distinct ways: primary and secondary.

Primary research

Primary research is research you conduct yourself. In other words, in primary research, you collect the data yourself. Some examples of primary research are face-to-face interviews, surveys, and social media interactions.

Secondary research

Secondary research (or desk research ) is research carried out by someone else. In secondary research, you make use of data that’s been collected by other people. A few examples of secondary research are forums or communities, industry reports, and online databases.

Primary and secondary research can be further broken down into two kinds of data: qualitative and quantitative.

Qualitative data

Qualitative data is descriptive and conceptual. And the nature of the data makes it subjective and interpretive. Examples of qualitative data include descriptions of certain attributes, such as blue eyes or chocolate-flavored ice cream .

Quantitative data

Quantitative data can be expressed using numbers, which means it can be counted or measured. As opposed to qualitative data, it’s objective and conclusive. Examples of quantitative data include numerical values such as measurements , length , cost , or weight .

Customer Research Methods that Work in 2024 (and Beyond)

Now that you know what customer research is and why it’s important, read on to learn the different consumer research methods you can use to make the most of it.

In a survey, you ask a series of questions to your customers regarding a subject or concept.

You can conduct a survey in person, over the phone, through emails, or online forms.

Here are some advantages of conducting customer research through surveys:

  • Quickly collect a ton of insightful data without the high costs.
  • The data you collect using surveys is simple to analyze.
  • Since you get a wide range of question formats , you can ask various questions.

When it comes to surveys, it’s all about how you ask. Clear and concise questions can help you get reliable information.

An online survey tool is your best bet for quickly gathering information from your customers. All you need to do is create a survey with a ready-to-use template and send your customers a link to take it.

If you’re in need of a cost-free and easy-to-use solution for conducting customer research surveys and beyond, consider exploring SurveySparrow . This tool aids in gathering essential data by enabling you to conduct thorough data analysis via its user-friendly and conversational survey format.

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In an interview, you speak directly to your customers and ask them open-ended questions.

  • Interviews allow you to have deep, one-on-one conversations with your customers and explore a topic in-depth.
  • You can go into the details, obtain data that goes beyond the surface-level information, and gather deeper insights.

While interviews give you a chance to probe deeper into a subject, success depends on the expertise and skills of the researcher (or interviewer) conducting the interviews.

Conducting interviews isn’t easy. In fact, it’s time-consuming and costly. However, the information you collect can be invaluable for the growth of your company.

You can meet your customers in person to conduct your interviews. Or you can use video conferencing tools such as Google Meet or Zoom to have conversations with your customers online.

Your analytics dashboard lets you in on the actions your customers take within your product.

Just a single glance at it and you’ll know what your customers do and how they engage with your product.

The irony is that customers don’t know what they want or why. They might think they need something but that might not be the case.

What they say they need doesn’t equate to what they do.

The point is that customer-reported behavior is different from actual behavior. That’s why it pays to track and observe your customers’ behavior.

You can use heatmaps, click tracking, scroll mapping, and user-recorded sessions to gain insights into your users’ actions and behavior.

Focus Groups

In this method, you bring together a small group of people based on certain criteria such as demographic, firmographic, or behavioral attributes.

And you ask this group about whatever topic or concept. It could be about your product, marketing message, or something else that’s related to your customers or business.

The idea is to get them to talk to each other and have meaningful conversations.

A moderator helps facilitate the conversations between the individuals in this group. From these conversations and discussions, the moderator will try to draw meaningful insights.

You mainly use this technique to gain a deeper understanding of a certain topic or subject.

Competitive Analysis

Studying your competitors’ strategies and tactics is a great way to learn more about the target market and the existing solutions.

You can analyze both your direct and indirect competitors depending on the needs you address and the customers you cater to.

You can conduct a competitive analysis from a marketing or product perspective.

If you conduct your analysis from a marketing perspective, you study your competition’s SEO strategy , landing page copy, blog content, PR coverage, social media presence, etc.

You can also conduct your competitive analysis from a product perspective and analyze your competitors’ user experience, features, pricing structure, etc.

Review Mining

The reviews of you and your competitors are another great way to get inside your customer’s head. This method can be especially valuable if you are a SAAS company.

It helps you get a better understanding of your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses as well as your own. This understanding helps you improve your own products and better address the needs of your ideal customers.

This kind of data is easy to acquire as it’s publicly available, and you can get them on:

  • Review sites such as G2Crowd and Capterra.
  • Forums and niche communities such as ProductHunt, Reddit, Quora, etc.

How can Surveysparrow help you here?

  • Collect Feedback Easily : Create simple surveys to find out what customers think about your products or services.
  • Understand Satisfaction : Use surveys to figure out how happy customers are with what you offer.
  • Learn Buying Habits : Find out why customers buy certain products, which helps in planning what to sell.
  • Get Product Opinions : Ask customers what they like or don’t like about your products to make improvements.
  • See How People View Your Brand : Understand how customers see your brand, which is important for your marketing.
  • Keep Up with Trends : Regular surveys help you stay updated on what your customers want or need.
  • Group Customers : Identify different types of customers to target them more effectively with your marketing.
  • Improve Customer Experience : Learn where you can make the buying process better for your customers.
  • Test New Ideas : Before launching new products, check if your customers would be interested.
  • Check Customer Loyalty : Find out if customers would keep using your products or recommend them to others.

In essence, SurveySparrow facilitates comprehensive customer research by enabling businesses to collect, analyze, and act on customer feedback efficiently, leading to better informed and customer-centric decisions.

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Businesses that deeply understand their customers have a huge advantage over the ones that don’t. Period.

Whatever you’re looking to learn or achieve, it becomes a lot clearer with a little research.

When done right, customer research can be your competitive advantage.

Be sure to pick a method that’s right for your situation. What are you looking to learn and achieve? Think through each research method carefully and pick the one that works best for you.

Have you conducted customer research? What did you learn? And how did it go? Tell us about that in the comment section below.

And if you’re looking to conduct customer research through surveys, feel free to check out SurveySparrow .

I'm a developer turned marketer, working as a Product Marketer at SurveySparrow — A survey tool that lets anyone create beautiful, conversational surveys people love to answer.

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A complete guide to customer research — with templates

What makes your product great? What problems does it solve? People will look to you — the product manager — as the expert on these questions. But you know that the answers are not based solely on your own opinions and experience. The most important input often comes from somewhere else: customers.

Understanding customers is integral to developing a lovable product . As a product manager, you will want to explore everything from your users' demographics to their inner motivations and struggles. This process of sussing out their needs and challenges is called customer research.

Conducting customer research is complex and dynamic work, where your curiosity is a tremendous asset. To plan, gather, and analyze feedback, product managers use a wide variety of methods — qualitative, quantitative, and a mix of both. You can take a highly sophisticated approach to this, but many times effective customer research entails talking to customers and using simple tools or templates to analyze their feedback.

In this guide, you will learn the fundamentals of conducting primary research so you can better understand the folks you are trying to help. You can try seven customer research templates to help you experiment with different methods and save time in the research process.

Engage a community and analyze feedback in Aha! Ideas. Start a free trial .

Empathy session with poll

With Aha! Ideas you can host live empathy sessions with your customers to learn more about their need and preferences.

Why should you do customer research?

Customer research is an essential component of product strategy — alongside competitor analysis , market research, and overall business needs. The insights you glean from meeting and surveying customers help to shape your strategic initiatives , ensuring that your team is poised to deliver what people really want from your product.

A key reason to perform customer research is to gain new perspectives on your product. Your customers may tell you things you never realized — hidden problems, unique ways of completing tasks, and even alternate use cases. What you believe matters most about your product may not even be on your customers' radar.

Let's say your product has a reporting feature with low usage . Your team decides to give the reporting interface a major upgrade. You spend the time and resources to build these updates — only to scratch your head when there is no uptick in usage. What went wrong?

If you breezed past talking to your customers, it is possible that the interface was not the factor keeping them from engaging. Maybe they prefer to use a separate reporting tool — in which case, an integration capability would have been a much more valuable feature to build.

Customer research helps you avoid spending time solving proble ms that do not exist — and highlights the ones that are real and deserving of your attention. This way, you know where to focus your efforts for the best chance of making your customers happy and meeting business goals.

Jump to customer research templates

How much customer feedback is the right amount?

The short answer? It depends. Your specific goals, the scope of your research, and the stage of your product's development all play a role. Here are some things to keep in mind when determining the right amount of customer feedback to collect:

Understand your goals Are you looking to validate a new product idea or improve an existing product? Do you need to better understand customer pain points or gather usability insights? These answers will shape your product development goals and dictate the depth and breadth of feedback required.

Define your sample size Consider the size of your target audience and customer base. In some cases, a smaller sample size can provide valuable insights, especially if you are conducting in-depth qualitative research . For quantitative research, a larger sample size might be necessary to ensure statistical relevancy.

Ensure diversity of perspective Aim for variety in your feedback pool. Different demographic groups, usage patterns, and customer segments can provide a more comprehensive understanding of customer needs and preferences.

Include a mix of feedback channels Analyzing feedback from different channels can provide unique perspectives and insights. Experiment with a variety of feedback methods and channels — such as releasing surveys, conducting interviews , and reviewing your social media and customer support interactions.

Consider resource constraints Think about the time, budget, and staff you have available for collecting and analyzing feedback. Balance the scope of your research with what you can realistically manage.

Remember, customer feedback is often collected in iterations. Start with a small group of users for early insights, then expand your feedback pool as you make improvements. Each iteration helps you refine your product and strategy.

And while quantity matters, the quality of feedback is crucial. Sometimes a few detailed, insightful responses can be more valuable than a large number of superficial ones.

Primary vs. secondary customer research

Product managers will use both primary and secondary customer research to gather information. Briefly, the difference is:

Primary customer research refers to gathering your own data and feedback firsthand via interviews, focus groups, surveys, and other methods.

Secondary customer research refers to findings gleaned from external sources like analyst reports and third-party surveys.

Both types can be valuable, but when it comes to your goals as a product manager, primary research is superior. While secondary research will help you understand demographics and broader trends, primary research allows you to drill down into the details of your specific product and target audience.

Your customers' own experiences are invaluable and one of the surest signals to creating a lovable product. For this guide, we will focus on the fundamentals of conducting primary research.

How do product managers gather customer feedback?

How do product managers come up with new ideas for a product?

How to conduct customer research

On a basic level, customer research entails reaching out to current or potential customers and gathering feedback from them via direct conversations or more indirect methods (like online surveys). Advanced tools such as product analytics and idea management software can certainly augment your approach — but are not necessary to get started.

Follow these steps to conduct your own primary customer research:

1. Define your objective Outline your research goals and determine what it is you really want to learn. For example, your objective could be to learn broadly about your customers' business goals or gain a deeper understanding of their experience with a specific feature set.

2. Decide which customers to contact Your objectives will help you decide who to speak with — especially if your product caters to a diverse group of customers. Think about current and potential customers and form a list of people to reach out to.

3. Prepare If you are leading an interview or focus group, meet with your product teammates to prepare your questions. Keep in mind you may need to coordinate with other team members who want to sit in on discussions. If you are conducting a survey, build it — then decide how and when to distribute it.

4. Start your research Conduct your interviews or hit "send" on your survey When talking directly with customers, remember to listen more than you speak. Ask meaningful follow-up questions to encourage deeper thinking and discussion.

5. Analyze, summarize, and share your findings Look for trends in the feedback you received. What did customers agree on? What were the most popular ideas or recurring pain points? Find common threads and share the findings with your team. Together, you can discuss and prioritize the customer ideas that support your overall goals — and promote those ideas to your product roadmap .

6. Repeat Customer research is an ongoing part of product management. You will need to collect feedback from many customers to make informed product decisions. And with every new product launch or major release, you may need to start fresh with a new objective and customer set.

Because it is ongoing, it helps to keep all of your customer research organized. You want to be clear on how your findings will inform the features you develop. For example, the Research tab in Aha! software is a way you can collect whiteboards, interview notes, and ideas right on the feature card.

Related: 35+ customer questions for product innovation

Get started with customer research templates

Customer research templates offer a simple way to start discovering who your audience really is and what matters to them. Using templates helps you add much-needed structure to your customer research process. Below, you will find an assortment of templates to try — from planning to interviews, surveys, and summarizing your findings.

Aha! Notebooks customer interview template

Customer research planning template, customer interview notes template.

Customer survey template

Customer feedback poll template

Customer focus group discussion template, customer research presentation template.

This customer interview template is a great one to start with. It is a guided template with helpful prompts and instructions in each section. This makes it simple to plan your conversations with customers so you can get the most out of each interview. It is available in Aha! Notebooks — which gives you a central place to document and organize your findings.

Customer interview large

Start using this template now

This planning template helps you define your objectives, identify which customers to talk to, and prepare for your research session. It includes sections for customer profiles (personas, segments, and companies) to add context to your research group.

Customer research planning template / Image

An interview template will keep your notes organized during conversations with customers. It will also help you guide the flow of the interview and note any takeaways or action items to proceed with after the session ends. Feel free to customize the discussion questions to match your objective.

Customer interview notes template / Image

Customer research survey template

Customer surveys allow you to gather insights from more people in less time — with the added benefit of built-in reporting via online survey tools. This template will help you learn how to design an effective customer research survey and plan the demographic, use case, and customer satisfaction questions that you want to ask. It includes a blend of question types for both fixed and open-ended responses.

Customer Research Survey Template / Image

Polls offer a simple way to incorporate a quantitative component into your qualitative research. For example, you can quickly gauge the group's opinion on an idea by inserting a poll in an online focus group or empathy session . This template will help you jot down ideas for future polls.

Customer feedback poll template / Image

Similar to the customer interview template, this focus group template will help you structure your session. It emphasizes a well-planned agenda over note-taking — encouraging you to be present in the discussion when you are facilitating a focus group. You can always record the focus group session to revisit later and take detailed notes.

Customer focus group discussion template / Imagae

After you have conducted your research, showcase your findings. Sharing results with your team makes customer research even more impactful — customer opinions matter at every level of the business and every stage of the product development process . This template will help you convey your top takeaways in a presentation.

Customer research presentation template / Image

Customer research has long been a core tenet of product management — and will continue to be. Templates like these will help you streamline your research process so you can focus on interacting with your audience and distilling insights from what they share.

When you are ready for a more comprehensive solution beyond simple templates, give idea management software like Aha! Ideas a try. With Aha! Ideas, you can crowdsource feedback via ideas portals, engage your community with empathy sessions, and analyze trends at the individual, organization, and segment levels. This helps you prioritize customer feedback with ease, then promote the ideas that support your business goals directly to your product roadmap.

Discover exactly what your customers want. Start a free Aha! Ideas trial today.

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Customer Research Methods: How to know your customer better

If you fancy yourself as a curious, customer-centric business owner who wants to create, make, and ship products people love, then performing great customer research (AKA UX research) should absolutely be part of your business plan.

Aside from testimonials , customer research gleaned straight from your customer base gives you a clearer picture of the people you’re serving, helps you build more relevant products, improve brand experiences, and ultimately, helps you have more empathy for your customer.

That’s a pretty important element in running a successful eCommerce business if we do say so at Sendle! While customer research can be time intensive and complex, it bears fruit and can greatly benefit your business long-term.

Two girls getting to know each other and understanding customer research

Be there for your audience every step of the customer journey through customer research.

illustrative icons with speech bubbles on customer research

What is customer research?

Customer research is simply the process of collecting data from the people using (or potentially using) your products or services to gain feedback and improve their customer experience .

By collecting this data—the customer’s ‘voice’—you’ll be better placed to make more customer-centric business decisions.

What are the main types of customer research?

There are many different ways you can capture the voice of your customer through research. Read on to know which types of customer research you think would better suit your business.

Here are the methods we’re going to jump into a little later:

  • Customer interview
  • Guerilla research
  • Focus groups
  • User testing

Quantitative vs qualitative research

quantitative qualitative research

As you can see, some customer research methods might be more accessible than others, depending on your business’ stage of maturity, budget, and time resources.

The method you decide to use will also depend on the type of data you want to collect. Would you like answers to the ‘what’ of a problem or dive a bit deeper into the ‘why’?

  • Quantitative research : This looks at a larger sample size of your customers. This type of research will gather data points in numerical form, which will help you identify patterns or interesting trends for you to sink your teeth into later. This is why, if you can, it’s best to use a quantitative research method first.
  • Qualitative research : This goes a little deeper into behaviors and needs, why a customer thinks a certain way, and how they think your product or business could change. You’re more likely to get a smaller sample size, but you do get a better understanding of your customers’ values, motivations, opinions, and preferences.

An example of how quantitative and qualitative data from customer research can improve a business process: Say you look at some returns data collected by your eCommerce store’s customer service team based in North Dakota.

The numbers (quantitative data) show you that people ordering your products from California have been returning your product more often than any other state.

You ponder, ‘why is this?’ so you decide to peel back some layers by undertaking phone interviews with customers in that area to learn more about their preferences and behaviors (qualitative data).

Lo and behold, the product doesn’t work well in the warmer climate, which is why they are returning your products frequently.

End result: You can begin the process of adapting your product or messaging around its uses.

Why is customer research important?

illustrative icon of 3 people giving a positive rating

Conducting regular customer research streamlines the often fluffy process of putting your customer at the center of everything you do within your business. And we think it should be part of any eCommerce store’s user experience .

By integrating a regular customer research practice in your work, you’ll:

  • Automatically shift the way you’re working into one that’s human-centered;
  • Make sure the products you’re creating and selling hit the mark with the people you want to use them;
  • Collect that all-important social proof via customer testimonials;
  • Refine your target market, audience, and brand positioning;
  • Test any assumptions that you have or ideas you’d like to implement in the future—getting feedback before making big decisions and spending lots of cashola; and
  • Discover hidden behaviors, motivations, and needs that your customers have (and find new ways to attract more like them).

What customer research method is right for your business?

illustrative icons of the types of customer research methods

There are loads of ways you can gather the data you need to put customers front and center of your business.

As mentioned earlier though, the kind of research method you choose will depend on a few things like time, resources, and budgets.

To make it easier for you (we’re cool like that), we’ve broken down a few of the simplest and cheapest customer research methods as well as ones that require a bigger investment in time and resources. So you can adapt and apply the perfect research method to your business, no matter what stage it’s at.

1. Send out a survey

Do you have an email list? You got the makings of a survey, my friend! This simple, effective, and cheap quantitative method can be used by any type of business to enhance customer experience.

A great example of a survey is the Sendle Small Business Survey , where we ask our partners relevant questions to give us a better insight on their eCommerce experience and how Sendle can improve it.

And while you’re at it, why not join the Sendle mail list? Get exclusive access to our latest small business tips and newsletters for all things eCommerce and sustainability!

We recommend using an easy online platform like Typeform or Google Forms to create the survey because you probably have access to these tools already.

You’ll likely get responses from customers who are already fans of your brand, but you could offer incentives to get a bigger range of customers answering (like a discount code or free product upon submitting survey answers).

Tips for putting together survey questions:

  • Give a brief description on why you’re doing this survey and what kinds of questions you’ll be asking (you can even put a timeframe estimate on how long it’ll take them)!
  • Assure your customers that their data would be treated as confidential and will only be used for research purposes.
  • Let the customer know there are no wrong answers and you’re looking for true and honest feedback.
  • Ask about specific elements of your business, or specific ideas you’d like feedback on—like pricing—rather than lofty big-picture things (this way, you’ll get solid stats back)!
  • Try doing some multiple choice or tick-box style answers, to save the customer time (and you’ll get definitive answers).

The trick to successful surveys is doing them regularly (at least once a year or at different stages of a customer journey), so you can keep track of changes across your business and measure your progress and customer satisfaction. We’ll cover how to take action on your results a little later.

2. Have a chat with your customers

Having a conversation with your customers is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to gather qualitative data about how they perceive your business and interact with your product (not to mention, a good way to build rapport and relationships)!

It can be free, though you may need to incentivize your customers to participate.

Simply book in a 30-45 minute call with a sample size of your customers and let the conversation flow! Okay… maybe there’s a little more preparation than that.

Tips for getting the most out of your 1:1 customer interviews:

  • Prepare discussion questions in advance to keep you on track (for example, ask them how they’re using the product at home), but also go with the flow when the topic journeys into something they’re passionate about.
  • Use a tool like Calendly , Acuity Scheduling , or Hubspot for scheduling interview times.
  • Use video or audio recording for the calls so you can revisit later (Google Meet or Zoom) – just make sure you get the customers’ consent to recording first!
  • Set expectations: explain to the customer the purpose of the interview.
  • Ask open, not closed questions (for example, focusing on ‘how’ and ‘why’ rather than things with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer).
  • Try not to ask leading questions (this is when you’re setting up the answer for the customer before they’ve had a chance to respond).
  • Leave your biases and preconceived ideas about your customers behind. Let them surprise you!

3. Guerilla research

This qualitative method is quick, low-cost, and a great way to nab insights from everyday human beings/potential customers.

While it might be a little more difficult to do now (guerilla research is done in-person, and we, ah, are in the middle of a pandemic)... some of the best research can come from asking randoms at your local coffee shop to give you feedback on concept products.

Pro tip : Buy them a coffee to say thanks!

Guerilla research can also be referred to as ‘intercept interviews’—where you literally intercept the types of people you want to hear from.

For example, if you’re keen to learn about people’s fitness behaviors, you can intercept them as they’re hopping off the treadmill at the gym.

Another pro tip : Maybe don’t intercept them while they’re benching 200 lbs.

Here are the tips to do guerilla research right (and so you don’t get arrested):

  • Start with a goal in mind: What do you want to learn?
  • Come up with a few questions you want to get answers to.
  • What will these learnings be used for?
  • Find the right people. Pick the right type of location, do a quick screener if you’d like a more specific type of person to speak to; otherwise, feel free to just naturally have a chat with someone you intercept without much extra planning or diving into the fact that it’s research.

4. Focus groups

A focus group of four people discussing on a table

Focus groups are not only a fun way to gain insights, but also a chance to build better customer relationships

Focus groups are great for capturing big ideas while getting to know your customers. However, they often require a bit more planning and resources, since it’s all about gathering a group of people together at the same time.

The value of the focus group is that there is an element of brainstorming and bouncing ideas off one another, which leads to fruitful conversations and swapping of perspectives that wouldn’t otherwise happen.

Tips for running focus groups:

  • Develop a hypothesis for what you think you’ll find throughout this research phase or what you’re testing.
  • Be a little pickier with the types of people you’re recruiting—make sure there’s a diversity of backgrounds and thoughts. You can also gather people from different stages of the consumer journey so that they, too, can learn about your products or services from each other.
  • It’s nice to start off with some sort of activity to help participants ease into a more creative mindset, to think outside the box, and to break the ice. You can find one that’s right for you by doing a quick Google search.
  • You’ll be collecting feedback in the moment, so a great idea is to have your customers engage with and talk about your physical product so you can capture their real-time responses.

5. Run user testing on your website and ordering process

If you’re a little more tech-savvy, have a decent-size research budget, and want to nail the user experience from first site visit through to ordering and beyond, (might we remind you of this post on eCommerce user experience ?) you may be interested in running user testing on your site to gather both quantitative and qualitative data.

It’s a great way to identify any gaps in user behavior or feature requests that you would have otherwise missed, or finding problems in your order flow, and it’s also helpful for future marketing and targeting initiatives.

Tips for setting up user testing:

  • Use analytics tools like Google Analytics , or screen recordings and heat maps to gather quantitative data ( Hotjar is a handy one).
  • When we’re allowed to be in the same room as other people again, you could sit with customers in person, and get them to show you how they use your site while talking out loud about their process for purchasing your products, placing an order, and contacting customer support (you can also walk through the consumer journey online via video recording software like Loom ).

The customer research process in 4 steps

Step 1: Define your goals

  • New customer acquisition
  • Customer retention
  • Brand awareness
  • Expand geographically
  • New product ideas

Step 2: Make a plan

  • What do you already know about your customers?
  • What questions do you want answered?
  • What will the impact be?
  • What research method will you use?
  • What is your timeline?
  • What resources do you need?
  • What metric will you be measuring?

Step 3: Conduct the research

  • Make sure you have prepared questions
  • Set up the tools
  • Find the people

Step 4: Action the findings

  • Synthesize the data
  • Identify patterns
  • Make changes to your business

How to process customer research data

illustrative icon of affinity mapping

So you’ve got all the good bits of data to know your customers better and now you’re ready to rumble. Where to next?

The official term is to ‘synthesize’ it into a summary of findings, which will include action items for what should be changed in your product and business offerings (like customer experience, brand, platform uses, etc).

It’s a big job, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to weed through the results and organize the information into patterns that make sense to you.

Our favorite way to do this at Sendle is called Affinity Mapping . This is where you are encouraged to use sticky notes (a UXer’s dream) with ideas and data insights, then look for connections (cluster ideas that are related to one another).

Then, create themes and groups, as well as a statement about what you learned from each group.

From there you can build diagrams, write out insight statements, or anything that helps you to further make sense of the findings.

Once you’ve done that, take some more time to think about the implications for each element of your business.

If you don’t have sticky notes and a big whiteboard, you can also do this virtually using a tool like Miro , or a spreadsheet, or even your Notes app.

Successful research is done on a regular and ongoing basis—which is why the metric you’re measuring is so important to define!

For example, if you’re looking to increase customer satisfaction, the metric might be reviews or ratings. If you’re looking at increasing sales, your metric might be order volumes. If you realize your target market is younger and tech-savvy, you could try marketing on Tiktok .

Enhance customer experience by monitoring your performance

When the time comes to make updates to your business process based on your customer research findings, you should monitor performance to see if anything changes.

Keep an eye out for any patterns in your business, like customer types, or sales stats, or purchasing behaviors.

You don’t need a lot of resources to conduct good customer research: all you need is a customer-first mindset, a curiosity about people and their behaviors, and being open to new and exciting ways to improve your business and products. With how fast consumer trends change, it’s important to keep innovating with research-backed data.

That being said, one of the best innovations you can make for your business is going green! Not only is it a deciding factor for consumers now , it’s also a great way to be both sustainable and profitable.

And Sendle makes it so easy! With every package you ship via Sendle, we offset its carbon emission through environmental projects around the world. As a 100% carbon neutral shipping company made especially for small businesses, your parcels—and the planet!—is safe with us.

Start shipping greener today

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  • What is customer research?

Last updated

14 February 2023

Reviewed by

Designing products that both delight customers and solve their problems is essential in a competitive landscape.

But how do you identify what your customers want and need, let alone who your customers really are?

Customer research enables you to learn more about your customers, understand their motivations, and get to grips with their behavior on a deeper level. You can use all this knowledge to create truly user-centric products.

Customer research is how you understand your customers—their needs, pain points, and demographics.

It also allows you to dive into key aspects of customers’ motivations and behaviors. It’s about learning how customers act and what will encourage them to take certain actions.

This is important when developing products. Deeply understanding your customers helps you deliver products that are easy to use, satisfying, and better at solving problems.

You’ll keep designing products that fall short if you don’t know your customers well and can’t see things from their point of view.

  • What’s the difference between customer research, market research, and user research

You may have heard the terms customer research, market research, and user research. They might sound similar and have some related functions, but they are distinct types of research.

Market research is generally conducted in the early stages of product creation. Its role is to generate an understanding of the whole market, including what people need and want from products. This type of research typically identifies market readiness, size, competition, and demographics.

While market research is broad, customer research is more specific. It’s a process by which data and information collected during market research are analyzed, grouped, and evaluated. You can think of it as an extension of market research, though some organizations may perform these functions simultaneously.

The focus of user research is generally on understanding what is and isn’t working with current products and where helpful innovation can occur.

  • Types of customer research

Primary and secondary research are some of the main types of customer research.

Quantitative and qualitative data are two types of data.

It’s helpful to know the difference between these groups to ensure you collect the right data and information for your project.

Primary vs. secondary research

Primary research is data collected directly by the organization from customers. It is obtained through research methods like surveys, focus groups, or analytics.

The advantage of primary research is having the power to obtain the data that’s most relevant for you. Knowing exactly what data has been collected and how to collate that information into meaningful insights is also more simple.

Secondary research is data collected by external sources, such as research groups, governments, and other companies. You can use it to discover more about customers.

Using data collected by other sources gives you less control, but it can save you money.

Ideally, a combination of both primary and secondary research will help you build a true picture of who your customers are.

Qualitative vs. quantitative data

You also need to understand which type of data will be most helpful for the relevant project.

Qualitative data is obtained directly from users, usually through methods such as in-depth interviews, focus groups, usability testing, and field studies.

This type of data can help designers understand why users do things and gain insights into how to solve their issues.

Quantitative data consists of numeral value measurements gained indirectly from users.

This type of data usually involves measurements like how much, how many, and how many times. Surveys, metrics, and user tests are some of the methods through which it can be collated.

  • The best customer research methods

The best customer research method will be the one that’s most relevant and useful for your project. So, what works for one product may not be the best match for another. 

Before deciding on a customer research method, asking the following questions can be helpful:

What do we most need to know about our customers?

What do we not know about our customers?

Are we satisfied that our product has a market?

Do we truly understand our competitors?

Do we deeply understand our target market?

Is our product solving a real-world issue for people? Do we have data to back that up?

Is this product the best possible solution for our customers?

These questions can act as a starting point to discover knowledge gaps. They can also help your team choose the research methods that can plug any of these holes.

Customer surveys

Surveys involve asking customers a series of targeted questions. They’re a popular research method because they can be conducted in several ways, such as with an online questionnaire, phone call, or email.

Surveys can help organizations quickly discover large amounts of useful information. They are also relatively inexpensive, as many free templates are available online.

Keep in mind that a survey is only as good as its questions. Ensure that you’re asking questions that will help you discover the most relevant and helpful data about your customers.

Surveys that follow best practices include the following:

Open-ended questions to get the most information from customers

Consistent ranking scales to avoid ambiguity

Questions that are relevant to the team’s end goal

A short series of questions to avoid overwhelming participants

Customer interviews

Interviewing customers is one of the most straightforward and helpful ways to discover their views, wants, and needs.

Customer interviews include a team member or neutral party having a discussion with a customer. They offer the chance to discover new insights that might not otherwise have been uncovered.

This technique won’t enable you to gather quantitative data, but you will gain new insights into how your customers think and perceive products.

Here are some best practices to follow when conducting customer interviews:

Clarify answers. If there’s any ambiguity in what a customer said, make sure you follow up with further questions to aid true understanding.

Challenge your assumptions. Don’t bring any assumptions to the table. Instead, ask customers how they really think and feel. Having a neutral moderator can help remove any bias the team may bring.

Keep things open. Asking open-ended questions and offering a safe space to share answers are essential steps. Doing so will help you gain real thoughts, not hear what participants think they should say.

The benefit of real data should never be overlooked when it comes to customers. People might say they act in certain ways, but their behavior can show otherwise.

Analytics (in a product dashboard or other data collection method, for example) will reveal a great deal of information about customer behavior. It can help streamline your business, remove areas of friction, and improve the overall customer experience .

Metrics like heat maps, time spent, click tracking, and number of sessions can help you build a picture of your customer’s behavior.

Are customers failing to complete their payment information? Are people landing on your page and immediately clicking away? Is a particular aspect of your experience retaining your customers’ attention? These are just a few useful questions you can ask as you go through your analytics.

Focus groups

Focus groups are a well-known and popular research method. They help teams discover a large amount of information in a short time period.

In a focus group, a small number of people—usually eight or fewer—gather together to discuss products, pain points, preferences, and how they might engage with products.

Focus groups are run by a moderator or a person from the organization who can act neutrally. The moderator will set out a series of questions or topics for the group to discuss.

The benefits of focus groups include the following:

Gaining insights into how users perceive your product

Spontaneous responses you may not have discovered otherwise

Information about key problems and pain points

An understanding of what your users want from a solution

However, focus groups also present some challenges. Louder voices in a group may sway others to agree with the consensus rather than share their real opinions. To combat this, offer all members of the group a safe space to share their thoughts. Encourage varying responses.

Competitor analysis

Competitor analysis helps you dive into what the market is currently offering. It shows what competitors are doing well and what could be done better. This helps you create new products that solve your customers’ problems more effectively.

The following are best practices for conducting competitor analysis

Be clear on who your competitors are

Identify your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses

Clarify who holds the largest market share and why

Analyze online presence, reviews, and product information

Speak to competitors’ customers

Competitor analysis isn’t just about discovering information about your competitors; another goal is to turn information into action. You’ll ideally want to improve on what a competitor currently offers and provide a product that’s more satisfying for customers.

  • How to conduct customer research

The following key steps will enable you to conduct useful customer research.

Set clear objectives

There’s a broad range of data and information that can be collected with customer research. However, not all of it will be relevant to your specific project. 

That’s why setting clear objectives from the outset is critical. All methods and data should lead back to these objectives.

Use multiple methods

One research method is unlikely to gather enough information for your project. And no one method is perfect.

Conducting multiple forms of research ensures you discover more about your customers and that your team gathers enough helpful data.

Find the right people

Your research won’t be effective if you’re talking to the wrong customer group. But how do you find the right people?

If you already have a product, it would be enormously beneficial to speak to your current customers . They have proven that they’re in your target audience.

Forums, advertising, local groups, and organizations are good ways to identify potential customers to participate.

Let’s say you’re designing a dog-sitting app. In this case, you’ll need to speak to dog owners who would like more flexibility to travel. You could find these people in online groups, through a local meeting, or even at a park that’s popular for dog walking.

Consider incentives

It’s also worth considering incentives. These can encourage the right people to get on board. For example, you might offer participants the chance to win a voucher or give them a small amount of cash to participate.

Ensure any incentives are meaningful for your target audience.

Develop meaningful insights

Collecting a range of data and information from multiple methods is helpful. However, it’s ultimately meaningless if that data isn’t collated into useful insights .

Ensure that data is accurately grouped and represented clearly and concisely so that the entire business can benefit from the learnings. You might need to hire a data analyst.

  • Surprise and delight your customers

Keeping customers at the center of what you do is the only way to create products that are helpful for people.

All products should help customers, whether that’s by solving a problem, making their life a little bit easier, or entertaining them in some way. Customers should want to use your product and enjoy the process.

By researching your customers, you can truly understand how they feel , where their pain points are, how they behave in real-life situations, and what solutions would please them. Ultimately, all this helps you better serve your customers.

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Customer Research: The Most Underappreciated Strategy In Your Toolkit

Customer research has far-reaching positive implications for businesses. This is a step-by-step guide for how to leverage the tool.


These ecommerce scenarios all have something in common:

  • Glossier names its cult-hit cleanser “Milky Jelly” 
  • Harry’s launches a new deodorant and shifts from a shave brand to a personal care   
  • Katelyn Bourgoin positions Charboyz meat kits as a social solution for suburban dads
  • A maternity brand figures out how to present its proprietary sizing, which improves conversions and decreases returns 

The answer: good customer research. 

Each of those bullets came about because the brand or founder listened closely to stories their customers and prospective customers told. 

These brands know something too few ecommerce companies have taken to heart: customer research has far-reaching implications for businesses. With the right resources and process, it’s possible to collect meaningful insights that help you improve many areas of your business, from marketing to customer support to product development. 

And although it may seem intimidating first, the time and financial investment customer research requires is manageable for most teams — especially in light of its ROI. 

This article is a step-by-step guide to formulating a research plan, interviewing customers, and turning the qualitative data you collect into meaningful improvements for your brand. 

The rest of this articles outlines how to:

  • Think about the benefits of customer research
  • Put together a research plan
  • Run effective customer interviews
  • Gather indirect customer research
  • Put your research data to good use

What is customer research?

Customer research is a structured way to find out why customers do and don’t buy. It’s an effective way to step out of your head and into the buyer’s journey, so you can provide better products and experiences. 

Why is it especially important for ecommerce? 

For ecommerce leaders, the biggest benefits of customer research include: 

  • Getting outside the jar 
  • Knowing what to improve (instead of guessing)
  • Providing better customer-centric experiences

Customer research gets you outside the jar

Imagine sitting inside a jar (an empty one) and trying to read the label. Even if you could make out a letter or two, or perhaps a fine print medical warning, it’d be impossible to piece together what the whole label looks like from the outside.

That’s a bit like trying to imagine a new customer’s experience from inside your brand. You know your site inside and out, and that’s a strength in many contexts. But it’s also a weakness because your proximity to the brand makes it impossible to know what it’s like for new customers to hit your homepage or try to purchase something.

You’re stuck inside the jar, and one of the best ways to get out is customer research. 

But that’s not the only benefit. 

Customer research helps you identify data-backed improvements

There’s a marketing approach Katelyn Bourgoin calls “ liquor and guessing .” It’s the old formula of gathering smart, creative people in the same room, giving them a cool product to work with, and letting them guess their way (occasionally with liquor) to more sales. 

While that occasionally works, it’s a bit like throwing a dart with your eyes closed — you could hit the board, but it’s not likely. Customer research provides a more guaranteed path. 

Some of the most common benefits folks cite is clarity around their messaging strategy — who to speak to, how to speak with them, and when to do so. 

Just wrapped up my 1st customer interview. 🕺Walked away with an entirely new approach, at least 10 content ideas, and a plethora of vocabulary I hadn't used before. Future copy has written itself. @KateBour never stop pushing this narrative. This changed my marketing world. 🙏 — Kristen LaFrance (@kdlafrance) May 2, 2019

But depending on what you set out to discover, customer research can do way more than that. 

Harry’s for example, crowdsourced some of their newest products from current shoppers. Jaime Crespo, GM at Harry’s, told Retail Brew the brand had 1,600 customers call in or send emails requesting deodorant. And 120,000 customers said in a survey they wanted to see deodorant or antiperspirant. Harry’s leaned into this.  

Crespo says, “We have a very strong, close connection with the customers. So we start talking with the customers and asking them, okay, why do you want a new product in deodorant? What’s wrong with the products that you’re currently using? And that’s how we develop our proposition.”  

This ties into the third major benefit for ecommerce brands.

Customer research shows you how to build better customer experiences

One of the biggest strengths of ecommerce, and especially DTC, is the unique opportunity brands have to influence or control every aspect of the customer experience . 

And better experiences pay off:

  • PwC surveyed 15,000 consumers and found 65% of them said they were more strongly influenced by a positive experience than a great ad campaign
  • Coschedule found marketers who do audience research at least once per year are 303% more likely to hit marketing goal
  • McKinsey says brands that improve the customer journey see revenue increases as much as 10-15% — while lowering service costs by 15-20%

When you start dialing in the customer experience , metrics like conversion rate, lifetime value, average order value, return on ad spending, and others improve as well. 

Customer research shows you, with astonishing clarity, how visitors are experiencing your brand. Meaning, it also shows you where to improve, where to double down, and where missed opportunities are, too. 

Here’s how to get started. 

How to build a foundation with a one-page research plan 

If you’re doing DIY research for your brand (DIY as in not hiring outside) help, start with a plan. This doesn’t have to be complex, either. 

To put together a one-page customer research plan, you’ll want to define:

  • Your goals for researching
  • Who will “own” the research
  • Who you’ll talk with 
  • What success looks like 

Below are each of those pieces in more detail.

What are your goals for customer research? 

While it’s admirable to simply want to know your customers better, your research will be far more effective (read: impactful for a specific area of business) if you start with some goals.

I say “goals” because Hannah Shamji, Customer Researcher , emphasizes every customer research project should have two goals:

  • A research goal
  • A business goal

Your research goal is typically in the form of a question. Be careful of going too broad here though. Shamji says a question like “why are customers buying?’ is too vague to be useful. It’s not something you can actually measure and answer. Instead, try something like, “why are customers in the past 6 months buy or not buying?” This is more specific, measurable, and directive. 

Once you have your research goal, your business goal outlines how you’ll use the research — what decision it’ll drive internally or what it will inform. Hannah explains this as, “stepping away and peeling back the future state of where this data is going to live and be used.” For example, if you want to know why customers have and haven’t bought in the last six months, perhaps you’re looking to improve new customer conversion rates.  

Who is going to be doing the research?

Ideally, you want to appoint one person to lead the research efforts. This person “owns” the research project. 

They can be an internal team member or an external expert, like Shamji or an agency. The point is, you identify one person who’s responsible for running the research and organizing the findings. This, among other things, ensures the research actually happens. 

How will you find customers or prospects to talk to?

Once you have your goals and your project owner, you now need someone to research. 

Figuring out who that “someone” is involves two steps: 

  • Identifying which type(s) of customer you need to talk with
  • Outlining how you’ll engage them 

1. Identifying who to talk with 

You’re no doubt aware you have different types of customers. These different types include distinct personas with distinct needs. Your different customer types also include action-based segments — customers who just purchased, signed up for the email list, or canceled a subscription. 

Each type of customer provides a different type of insight. For example:

  • Prospective visitors can help you understand why folks come to your site, what they’re looking for, and where they get tripped up.
  • Customers who just purchased can give insight into what triggers and contexts motivate other new customers to buy. 
  • Repeat customers can help you see what’s both delightful and frustrating about the experience you’re providing.
  • Higher average order value customers can provide insight into what drives brand fanatics.  

And that’s just to name a few. 

Ultimately, who you focus on depends on your research question. Let’s say you’re a DTC drink subscription company, and you want to understand why subscribers canceled their recurring soda subscription last month. Your goal is to reduce churn. To do this research, you’ll want to speak with subscribers who canceled last month and dig into why they moved on. 

The general rule is, speak with the customer segment or prospective customer segment that’s best equipped to answer your research questions. 

2. Outlining how you’ll engage them

Once you know who you’d like to talk with, you can identify how you’ll reach out to them.

If you’re speaking with existing customers, this may be as simple as an email. 

If you’re speaking with prospective customers, you’ll also want to consider where to find folks and how to qualify them as well.

Note: I’ll get into the logistics of both of those below. For now, simply write how you plan to reach out to folks. 

What types of research make the most sense?

The next planning decision you’ll want to make is, “What type or types of research will give us the best data for our question?” There are quite a few types of research, and they all have strengths and weaknesses. 

Here’s one helpful framework:

  • Direct vs. indirect : Direct research involves actively reaching out to customers. Think interviews, online surveys, questionnaires, user testing, and similar primary research methods. Indirect research is more passive. These are methods like social listening (gleaning data from social media) or buying market research. 
  • Qualitative vs. quantitative: Qualitative research methods focus on substance and answering “why is this the case?” Quantitative research methods focus on numbers and answering “how often is this happening?” Most research methods excel in one area or the other. But some methods, such as surveys, can help you answer both. 

You can plot most research methods (interviews, surveys, polls) along those two axes: 

Graphic showing types of customer research on axes

Keep in mind combining multiple types of research is often an effective way to gain clarity around your research question.

For example, if you want to know why website visitors aren’t converting on the homepage you rolled out last month, interviewing prospective visitors will help. But so will looking at heatmaps and path analytics in Google docs. 

Non-interview research options 

The rest of this article will focus on interviewing customers because this is one of the most impactful research methods , as Katelyn Bourgoin illustrated: 

customer research methods represented by an iceburg - surveys are above water, interviews below

That being said, you may sometimes want to start with research options that aren’t interviews. For example, when you’re:

  • Not sure what questions you need to ask or who could answer them 
  • Needing to gather a large volume of data points quickly around a specific question 

In those scenarios, non-interview options include: 

  • Customer surveys: Via email or form add-ons 
  • Live chat transcripts : 29% of consumers use or plan to use chatbots to shop online. If you’re using chatbots, there’s a wealth of qualitative data sitting in those conversations. 
  • Customer support: The people answering emails, calls, and chats from potential customers or customers every day are a rich source of insight . Don’t neglect what they know. 
  • Forums/communities : Listen in wherever your potential customers hang out — Quora, Slack groups, Facebook communities, LinkedIn groups, local meetups, etc. This is a helpful way to find common pain points and desires. 
  • Social Media: Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, Clubhouse, Facebook…if your potential customers are chatting there, there’s something you can learn from lurking. 
  • Product reviews: Mining competitor reviews, similar products on amazon, or browsing aggregate review sites can indicate where customers are most fed up and what they may be looking for instead. 
  • Audience research tools. Several tools, such as SparkToro , UserInput , and Hotjar , are specially built for figuring out who your audience is and what they’re interested in. 

Again, we don’t go deeper on each of those types of research here because that could be a book in itself. But keep in mind these can be a good starting point in certain scenarios, and they’re often useful to layer on top of interviews for additional context. 

For example, Natalie Thomas, Director of CRO Strategy at The Good, explains we always start with the journey: the path the visitor takes, where they’re coming from, and what their mindset is. 

If we were working with a glasses company, we might ask, “what keywords are people searching for? Are they landing on your site because they’re looking for cute glasses? Are they looking for blue light glasses, or are they looking for acetate glasses, or are they not looking for glasses at all?” This kind of journey analysis diagnoses any problems, which helps us form specific research questions and business goals. With this method, we can ensure we’re asking the right question and focusing research on points of highest return.  

How to Conduct Customer Research to Improve Customer Experience

Opting In To Optimization

How do you define “enough” and wrap up the project?

The last piece of your plan is defining “enough.” Or, what success looks like. This is identifying, “we know we’re done with this phase of research when…” 

There are a few ways to benchmark this:

  • After x amount of weeks
  • After talking with y customers
  • After identifying z trends 

While customer research ideally becomes an ongoing effort at your brand, it’s useful to know when each piece of research wraps up. So, make sure and set a finish line. 

How to conduct effective 1:1 customer interviews

Once you have a plan, you can start executing your research. This part is a lot of logistics — and a lot of fun. It involves:

  • Reaching out to potential interviewees
  • Formulating interview questions 
  • Running interviews 

Those steps sound simple enough, but many folks get tripped up here. Do you pay people to participate? What do you say in the emails? And, for the love, what do you say in the interview??

Here are some answers based on our experience and the experts we talked with. 

First, reach out to your target audience and get them to engage

The plan you built above identified which customer segment you’ll interview. Here’s where you start engaging that segment. Some questions you might run into here include:

  • How many people do I contact?
  • Do I pay or incentivize them to participate?  
  • How do I qualify them?
  • What do I say when I email people?
  • How do I not lose my mind scheduling it all? 

They’re all good questions! Let’s take them one-by-one. 

How many people do I reach out to? 

It’s unlikely every customer will accept, so email 1.5 to 2x the number of customers you’d like to wind up talking to. 

If you’re doing customer interviews, aim to speak with at least 5-10 people. Jess Nichols, User Research Leader and Experience Strategist, recommends , “For exploratory research, like interviews, I aim for eight to 10 participants per segment. This number ensures you can identify patterns, similarities, or differences in your participants’ responses and allow you to dive deeper into nuances you may discover during research.”

So, if you’d like to speak with 10 customers, email 15 to 20 with an interview request. 

Do I use incentives? 

This depends on your budget, the segment you’re trying to reach, and whether you have time to try a no-incentive approach first (if you hear crickets, you can always add in an incentive later).

If you’re interviewing existing customers, particularly brand enthusiasts or loyalists, you may not need to sweeten the ask. But if you’re trying to connect with prospective customers, an incentive will generally speed up your timeline and up your response rate.  

If you opt for incentives, Hannah recommends you use between $20 and $50 per person . This “encourages sign ups and avoids no shows without biasing customers to only give positive insight.”

How do I qualify research participants? 

If you’re pulling from your existing customer base, you may be able to use analytics you already have to qualify participants. For example, the date they purchased or canceled (if they’re subscribers), average order value, types of products they’ve bought, and so on. 

If you’re rounding up prospective customers who have never seen the site before, you’ll want to qualify them in some sort of a screening survey. For example, we once worked with a paint company. This paint was five times the price of normal paint because it was low VOC, environmentally friendly, made in the US, and had many other benefits. 

Natalie explains that, when she qualified prospective paint customers for research, one of the things her team asked about was pricing sensitivity. She notes, “if you get the wrong person in the door, they’re going to say, ‘I would never even consider this,’ and the rest of your research is null with that individual.”

Most researchers opt to qualify participants in a screening survey (e.g. using Google forms or Typeform ). The important thing is you do qualify your participants by some means. Remember, the folks you speak with should be the ones who are best equipped to answer your research goals. If you cast a wide net with no qualifiers, your findings will be far more muddied and conflicting — if they’re useful at all. 

What do I say when I email people? 

Think of the emails you like to receive and read. They’re probably clear, concise, and have a bit of personality to them. That’s the kind of email you want to send here, too. A good interview request email will:

  • Have a clear subject line. If you’re offering an incentive, feel free to lead with that. For example, “Laura, $25 Amazon gift card for your thoughts…” If you’re not incentivizing, aim for a subject line that’s both interesting and accurate. Perhaps, “How you can help us improve [x]” since folks like opportunities to help. 
  • Explain why you’re emailing. Clearly explain what you are doing (research) and what you’re not doing (pitching a sale or some other hidden agenda). 
  • Explain why you’re researching. Briefly say why you’re doing research and how their participation will help.
  • Set expectations for an interview. Define how long the interview will take, what the person needs to do to prepare (usually nothing), and whether it’s face-to-face, video, or voice-only. You may want to mention that any data you collect won’t be sold or shared outside the company as well. 
  • Equip the reader to take action. A good way to do this is to include a link for the respondent to book an interview slot, e.g. via Calendly . 

For a good starting point, check out Hannah’s email template: 

email template for customer research reach out

How do I schedule it all? 

Whoever is leading this research probably has other to-dos on their plate. To ensure interviewing customers won’t completely wreck their (or your) schedule, it’s best to:

  • Batch interviews on certain days
  • Schedule batches back-to-back
  • Use a tool like Calendly to prevent calendar conflicts

This approach doesn’t just help you schedule, it helps you interview well. Hannah explains , “When you stack interviews like this, it triggers the compound effect and helps you immerse in the world of the customer. By the third interview you’ll be asking sharper questions, spotting more nuances and drawing richer customer insight.”

One other tip: batch interviews but leave about 15 minutes between each one. This will give you time to transition (read: take a snack break). It’ll also ensure it’s no big deal if you need to run five minutes over to let an interviewee finish a specific thought. 

Interview customers to collect the data (using the Jobs To Be Done Framework) 

When it comes to running each interview, it’s helpful to think of it in two parts: 

  • Pre-interview prep
  • During interview guidelines 

Pre-interview prep: formulating questions  

The biggest task here is coming up with a list of potential questions you can ask. 

One popular method is formulating questions around the Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) framework. There are several books on this topic, and I’ll spare you all the nuances of it here. But the basic premise is customers “hire” your products or services to fulfill needs in their life. For example, I recently “hired” a Ruggable rug to reduce my mental load — I don’t want to worry about rug fuzzies or stains for the next half-decade. Other folks “hire” certain meal kits to take meal planning off their plate or to feel more confident (e.g. by losing 15 lbs). 

Understanding what job customers hire your product to do, what else they considered to fill that job, and what drove them to try and hire it out in the first place can yield rich qualitative insights. 

To find those insights, many interviewers ask questions about: 

  • Triggers: Triggers are what make potential customers go, “Hey I have a need here.” For example, a trigger for needing a new mattress may be getting married or adopting a dog who sleeps in the bed. 
  • Deciding: Making a decision usually involves many desires, anxieties, and hesitations. For example, price, social perception, durability, and so on. 
  • Looking: Before purchasing, customers consider alternatives to your product. These may be the competitors you have in mind — or they may not. If I need new cookware, I may consider Caraway, whatever is on the kitchen aisle of TJMaxx, or asking my grandma if she has extra cast iron. 
  • Purchased : Those who chose your brand have a reason for doing so. Oftentimes, that reason isn’t particularly rational or logical either. 
  • Using: Identifying friction points, moments of delight, and what customers expect next can all help you craft better experiences. 

Keep in mind, you won’t get through all of your template questions in each interview. In fact, you shouldn’t necessarily aim to. Remember to tailor your conversations around the specific research and business goals you have in mind. 

During the interview: listening for emotions, taking notes, and what not to do 

When you first hop on the phone or video, you want to do a few things right off the bat:

  • Set expectations around length; reiterate what time you’ll wrap things up
  • Reassure the interviewee there are no right or wrong answers (it’s about collecting their story and experience)
  • Let the interviewee know if they don’t want to answer a question, they can decline

Seriously, don’t forget that last one. There are few things more disheartening than wrapping up an interview and realizing you didn’t hit the record button (facepalm). Zoom is a great option for storing and recording interviews if you don’t already have one. 

Once you’ve done a quick intro, your goal is to listen way more than you talk. Here are a few things, in particular, you’re listening or watching for: 

  • Emotional language:  Katelyn Bourgoin, CEO of Customer Camp, explains , “The interesting thing about how people buy is that 95% of the purchases that we make are actually driven by unconscious emotional triggers.” One of your goals in the interview is to identify these triggers. Listen for words like “angry” or “frustrated.” 
  • Shifts in tone or volume: Pay attention to how someone says something, not just what they say. Shifts in tone can indicate excitement or disappointment. And emphases on certain words underscore their importance. 
  • Shifts in body language: Changes in facial expression or body posture can all indicate strong underlying emotions. Keep an eye out for these, too. 
  • Stories: Our buying decisions are highly contextual. They’re embedded in our emotions, daily lives, and goals. Stories help illuminate these factors. 
  • End goals: How did they hope buying a product or service would make them or their lives more awesome? 
  • Underlying motives: As Katelyn pointed out, we’re not always aware of why we buy. Listen for underlying motives in the stories the customer tells. Don’t take every statement at face value. 

Ultimately, when you identify these clues, you’re pinpointing insights you’ll use later on when you apply your research. “The secret to identifying insights lies in understanding the human brain works on two levels and that most of our behavior is influenced by subconscious motivations in the brain. We’re simply not consciously aware of why we do what we do,” Daryl Travis, CEO at BrandTrust told me. To draw out unconscious behaviors, he recommends asking for stories. “…ask them to share in story form their experiences aligned with what you’re trying to understand. Inevitably, they will share the experiences that are emotionally intense and therefore most relevant.”  

Also, a quick note on taking notes: 

Ideally, you’re taking minimal notes during the interview (because you’re recording), and this will help you tune in to the other person. Bob Moesta, President and CEO of Re-Wired Group (and pioneer of Jobs-To-Be-Done), only writes down the words he wants to follow up on and unpack, for example. 

The final result looks like a treasure map. 

notes from customer research interviews

Like Bob, you’ll want to dig deeper into certain words and cues throughout the interview. Here are some follow-up questions that are particularly helpful for drawing out richer insights: 

  • Why is that? 
  • Can you tell me more about that? 
  • What led you to that decision?
  • Could you walk me through your thought process there?
  • What else was going on that made that the right choice?
  • Sounds like that [need/want] was important to you. Why is that? 
  • That seems to bug you. I bet there’s a story there. 
  • You seem pretty excited about that. Why was it a big deal?  

Lastly, when you’re running the interview, you want to check yourself for these common mistakes:

  • Forgetting to record (seriously, it’s the worst) 
  • Talking more than you listen 
  • Asking leading questions
  • Asking either/or yes/no questions
  • Formulating statements as questions
  • Accepting an answer at face value (use those follow-ups!)
  • Quickly filling the silences (let these prompt the interviewee to speak)

The leading questions thing is important, and it’s one of the more difficult to keep in mind during your first interviews. For example, I once asked, “what made this product enjoyable?” That question is leading because I assumed the person found the product enjoyable. Turns out, she didn’t! Two better questions would’ve been, “Tell me how you used this product” or “what was your experience like using this?” 

Likewise, either/or questions are leading because they assume only two possible outcomes. So are double-barreled questions because they trap the interviewee. Natalie explains, “Sometimes a double-barreled question is, ‘How much do you love our product and our emails?’ And, well, they might hate your product and really love your emails. So now they can’t even answer that appropriately.” Avoid these, too.

These mistakes may take some practice to spot, and you’ll get better with practice. For your first interviews, do your best to stick to open-ended questions that keep your assumptions out of the picture and give the interviewee plenty of room to tell their story. 

How to map research data to real brand opportunities 

All too often, great research winds up on dusty digital shelves. It’s not because brands plan on wasting the effort they’ve gone through. It’s often because of sheer overwhelm.

“The most overwhelming aspect of research can be the sheer amount of reading that’s required to understand the material,” writes Lucy Denton, Senior Product Designer at customer research app Dovetail . “The average one-hour interview transcript might contain 10,000 words and you’re looking at half a dozen of these, and that’s before the workshop output, diaries / journals, visual documentation, or observation notes.” 

The good news is, there are a few steps you can take to help your future self use the data you collect. These steps include:

  • Consolidating your research into one central location
  • Organizing your research with tags 
  • Socializing your research with various teams 

Then, once you do those things, you’ll be in a good position to analyze your findings and: 

  • Identify big picture trends
  • Highlight rich customer personas
  • Map observations to improvements
  • Prioritize improvements

Let’s look at the help-your-future-self logistics first. 

Consolidate, organize, and socialize 

The first steps of putting data to use include creating a home for it, organizing insights, and sharing them with others. 

Consolidate: create a home for the research

Pull stuff in one visible, accessible place. This could include:

  • A shared Google Drive
  • 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 in mostly one place and (b) is accessible to the appropriate team members. 

Erik Goyette, Senior UX Researcher, Shopify: “To catalog our research, we’ve built a research library. Anyone across the company can go there to find our reports, slide decks, and recordings of our presentations.” (They use Dovetail.)

Keep in mind, you’ll want to take your recorded interviews and generate transcripts of those. This will make reviewing and organizing the research much, much easier. Useful transcript tools include Rev and Descript . Both the original recording and the transcript should live in whatever home you create for research. 

Organize: make the research easier to consume

Once your research has a home, you’ll want to use some system to keep any observations you pull out of 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. Hannah explains, “You already know what the data is going to inform…based on that you’re going to start to get ideas of types of insights you need.” Insights could be top objections, new features, search motivations, pain points, customer journey points, and so on. 

How else do you know if you’re looking at an insight? Here are some indicators you’ve found one:

  • It’s grounded in data . You can point to the sentiment in the research/transcript and not just your memory.
  • It occurs often . Multiple interviewees mention it.
  • It’s embedded in high emotion . The point has some strong emotion or sentiment attached to it.
  • Useful to the business . The point maps to an opportunity — usually, to improve some aspect of the customer’s experience or journey with the brand. 

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. 

Some pointers for developing your approach:

  • Start minimal : You can always add more process later. For now, pick something that’s intuitive and has a low learning curve for other team members. 
  • Functional : Any tagging system you choose should help you use the data. Relate tag names to business goals or end uses. 
  • Visual: Colors help team members quickly sort and bucket insights. Don’t go overboard (12 colors is a bit too much, yeah?) but do use visual cues. 

Socialize: share what you find with others

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. Silo-ed data is crippled 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.) 

Three reasons it’s important to distribute, or socialize, what you find: 

  • Each team will see something different. A customer service team member will spot a different opportunity or use case than a marketer. That’s a good thing.
  • You’ll prevent redundancies. Socializing data also prevents various teams from running similar surveys (and frustrating customers in the process). 
  • You’ll enable customer-centric decisions . Executives and team leads can’t make customer-centered decisions if they don’t have access to the customer’s experience. 

Remember, customer experience spans every team and aspect of your brand. So, give every team access to what the customer is experiencing so they can contribute ideas for improving the holistic journey. 

Identifying real 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. “Attempts to merely rely on human memories and impressions from interviews are likely to introduce bias. And even if we did keep notes, when we consume raw data directly, we’re in danger of unconsciously giving weight to certain points,” writes Lucy Denton . “From there we’ll likely form misleading opinions that lead to impulsive decision-making, and eventually, take the whole team down a path that focuses on the entirely wrong outcome.”

Relying on gut alone in research (much like in testing) leads teams on wild goose chases. Instead, take a step back and look for overarching trends like customer segments and potential brand improvements. 

Look for customer segments or personas

One of the great things about qualitative research is it helps you build rich and useful customer personas. 

Quantitative data like Google Analytics reports can tell you whether customers are primarily on mobile, what region of the country they come from, and other data or demographic points. But if your customer personas stop there, they’re not going to be particularly useful. 

“The first way to create a buyer persona that doesn’t suck, is to actually talk to your customers,” Adrienne Barners, founder of Best Buyer Persona told me. “Data Analytics and survey data is a wonderful way to validate what your customers are saying, but starting with audience research and qualitative data makes for a richer and more accurate persona.” 

What does a richer persona look like? It takes motivations and behavior into account. “Segmenting people according to job title, age, or gender, doesn’t tell you why they bought your product. Think of segments as ‘jobs’ or the reason they purchased your product and how they use your product,” Adrienne explained. “Segmenting in this way means you’re able to broaden your segmentation while keeping it focused on buying behavior.”

Two related perks of building rich ideal customer segments: 

  • They’ll improve your journey map. The best journey maps highlight what personas think, feel, and experience at every point . This is exactly what you can pull from rich customer segments and interview data. 
  • They’ll help you make sense of conflicting data . It’s not uncommon for one person to say they bought for x reason while another person explains they bought for y reason . Rich segments help resolve that tension. 

Remember to keep an open mind as well! When Katelyn Bourgoin and her husband started researching potential customers for Charboyz , they assumed their main persona was a farmers market shopper. Turns out, it’s what they wound up calling Suburban Jock Dads. This persona, Katelyn explained on the DTC Voice of the Customer podcast , “probably used to be somebody who would go out every weekend prior to having kids, and now was looking to rebuild that social community through his now suburban life.” 

And so, when the Bourgoins launched their first box, they didn’t position it as a food box. “We positioned it as a virtual barbecue,” Katelyn said because that fit their ideal persona much better. 

This leads into the next thing you’ll want to do with your insights and personas: map those observations to areas of your business. 

Map observations to areas of the business

The conversations you have will rarely tell you exactly what to do with your business. As in, 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
  • Prioritizing and testing those improvements

Hypothesizing improvements

Because you’re talking with customers about their experience and journey, insights you collect can apply to any area of your business.

Some common applications include:

  • Ads: When you know what context and motivation brings potential customers to you, you can do a better job engaging them — especially if you know the words and phrases (“voice of customer”) they relate to. 
  • Email sequences: If Ruggable had interviewed me after I purchased one of their rugs, they’d know prompting me to upgrade to a 9×12 cushioned rug pad (+$130) before the product shipped would’ve been a more effective post-purchase email CTA than asking me to purchase another rug…before I’d even received the first one.  
  • Content: The pain points your potential customers wrestle with, the hesitations they faced when purchasing, the questions they had about using it…these are all content opportunities. Adrienne Barnes writes , “The first thing I look for when turning audience research into a content strategy is customer questions. Customers often need help learning how to use the product or the benefits of a feature.”
  • Social media: Likewise, the same sentiments that inform your articles can inform your social posts. What contexts can you show your products in? What rave reviews will resonate most with your target personas and what you know about them? 
  • Product images: Knowing how customers use the product in their everyday lives can inspire you to produce more relevant and contextual imagery for your site and product galleries. 
  • Customer support: It may be you discover new common pain points and how to head them off, which reduces your customer support load. Or maybe you identify a channel where customers feel particularly helped and decide to lean into it. 
  • Product design or development: If customers regularly express a need you don’t address or a frustration with your product/service, there may be a good reason to prioritize the improvement. 
  • Wayfinding/ Improving poor UX : Understanding what brings customers to your site and what needs they’re looking to fill once they’re there can inform how you structure navigation, what filters you provide to sort products, product category names, and so on.

For example, Bob Moesta and Katelyn Bourgoin did a live customer interview with Amanda Natividad who recently purchased a Peloton. Moesta and Bourgoin wanted to understand why and how Amanda decided to buy the premier stationary bike. Some insights and hypothesized improvements they uncovered were:

  • It was too hot to walk outside . This is one reason Amanda became interested in a bike. Could this insight inform advertising strategy in geographic areas where it’s often too hot or too cold to exercise outdoors?
  • Amanda didn’t read reviews; she trusted word-of-mouth from friends . Could incentivizing referrals and word-of-mouth drive higher conversion rates for Peloton? 
  • Mental health was a huge purchase motivator . Perhaps one of Peloton’s biggest competitors isn’t other exercise bikes or gyms, it’s counseling and therapy.
  • She didn’t consider herself a “workout fanatic.” Yet most of Peloton’s ads feature chiseled, thin models. Could more diverse product imagery help prospective buyers identify with the product more readily?

Peleton ad with man riding bike needs refresh based on customer research

And these are all hypotheses from one interview! Imagine what you could find in a whole set.

Prioritize and test potential improvements 

Once you have a handful of hypotheses, you can start crafting experiments and testing improvements. 

This is an important step. “[Interview] Data is never going to tell you exactly where to go because it shouldn’t be the only spoke in the decision wheel,” Hannah Shamji cautions. “It’s going to help you improve and inform and drive…but it shouldn’t be the only deciding factor.” 

Put another way, research gives you evidence for what to test and which directions to test in — but you still need to test.  

But how, out of all your hypotheses, do you decide where to start? Two tips on picking which tests to prioritize: 

Start with what customers prioritize

According to research by PwC, 80% of American consumers point to speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service as the most important elements of customer experience .

Research graph by PWC shows most important elements of customer experience.

If your research indicates any major holes in those areas, consider starting there. 

Work on your Peak-End Moments

Another option to improve the critical moments of your customers’ experiences. 

It’s tempting to think each part of a customer’s experience is equally weighted — as if the ad that brought them to your site is 1 point and the header they see once they get there is another one point. 

But psychology indicates this isn’t how we recall interactions. Rather, we pay extra attention to the intense highs/lows and final moments of any experience. This is called the “peak-end” rule .

“Recognize the brain doesn’t remember everything. It only stores the experiences it deems—via emotional intensity—that are worthwhile to store for future reference,” Daryl Travis advised me. “Once you identify those experiences—Behavioral Economics refers to as Peak-End moments—then you know what are the real opportunities for brands.” 

Figure out the common peaks and ends from your interview data. Then, prioritize improving those pieces. 

Go ahead, kick off your research project

Start with a plan, find your participants, and create a home for the data you collect. From there, analyze your body of research and map your findings to areas for improvement. 

Then, tell us the most interesting thing you learned! 

Remember, the time and effort are worth it — customer research is one of the most effective ways to understand what your customers experience, identify ways to improve that experience, and boost all kinds of related metrics from conversion rates to lifetime value, and more.

If you still aren’t sure where to start with your research, head to our free Stuck Score™ tool. We can help identify areas on your website that aren’t converting. Try building a research plan based on the identified pain points.

Want a free landing page teardown?

We’ll provide a data-driven critique of the usability and effectiveness of your site free of charge.

About the Author

Laura bosco.

Laura Bosco is our Lead Content Marketer at The Good and a phenomenal freelance writer. She helps us translate our thoughts, opinions, and client experiences into written products that are both entertaining and educational. You can learn more about her background and her services at www.laurabosco.com.

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The Ultimate Guide to Conducting Customer Research: Tips and Tricks

Customer research is an important step for businesses to take when attempting to understand their customer base better. By gaining greater insight into the behaviors, preferences and opinions of customers, businesses can develop more effective strategies to improve customer satisfaction, loyalty, and engagement. Knowing how to conduct customer research is key to obtaining invaluable insights that can help businesses grow and adapt to changing customer needs.

Introduction to Customer Research

Customer research is the process of gathering, analyzing, and interpreting data about customers. This data can be collected through surveys, interviews, focus groups, and other market research activities. The aim of customer research is to gain a better understanding of the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of customers, as well as their preferences and needs. This information can then be used to inform strategies for improving customer experiences and developing new products and services.

In addition to helping companies better understand their customers, customer research can also provide valuable insights into customer trends, competitor strategies, customer service expectations, customer satisfaction levels, and sales forecasts. By staying up to date on customer insights, businesses are better able to anticipate customer needs, identify new opportunities, and develop strategies for long-term growth.

Customer research can also be used to measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and to identify areas of improvement. By understanding customer feedback, companies can make adjustments to their marketing strategies to ensure they are reaching the right audience and delivering the right message. Additionally, customer research can help businesses identify potential new markets and develop strategies for entering them.

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Why Customer Research is Important

Customer research is a valuable tool for businesses that want to remain competitive in today’s marketplace. By taking the time to understand the needs and preferences of their customers, businesses can create more effective marketing campaigns, develop better products and services, provide more personalized customer service experiences, and create more effective loyalty programs.

In addition to helping businesses become more competitive, customer research can also help reduce customer churn. By learning more about what customers enjoy and don’t enjoy about their experience with the company, businesses can make changes or develop new strategies to improve customer satisfaction and increase retention rates.

Finally, customer research can help businesses identify new trends in their industry. By staying up-to-date on the latest market trends, companies can gain a competitive edge by being first to market with new products and services that address customer needs.

Customer research can also help businesses identify potential opportunities for growth. By understanding customer needs and preferences, businesses can develop new products and services that meet those needs and capitalize on emerging trends in the market. Additionally, customer research can help businesses identify new target markets and develop strategies to reach those customers.

Types of Customer Research

There are several different types of customer research that businesses can use to gain more insights into customers. Surveys are one of the most common methods for gathering customer data. Surveys can be used to gather feedback about a variety of topics such as product features, customer satisfaction levels, or marketing campaigns. Surveys can be sent out via email or distributed in person at events.

Interviews are another popular method for conducting customer research. Interviews allow businesses to ask open-ended questions and get in-depth responses from customers. This type of research is best suited for gaining qualitative data about customers’ thoughts and feelings about a product or service.

Focus groups are a popular method for obtaining feedback from a group of customers. In a focus group setting, customers are invited to discuss a particular topic or product in detail. This type of research is ideal for gathering feedback from multiple customers at once as well as gaining insights into interactions between customers.

Observational research is another type of customer research that businesses can use. This type of research involves observing customers in their natural environment to gain insights into their behavior. Observational research can be used to gain insights into how customers interact with a product or service, as well as how they use it in their daily lives.

Best Practices for Conducting Customer Research

When conducting customer research, it’s important that businesses follow certain best practices. First, it’s important to clearly define the research goals so that the results can be used effectively. Knowing what insights need to be obtained before starting the research will help ensure that the right questions are asked and the right data is gathered.

It’s also important to ensure that the methods used to conduct the research are reliable. If a survey is used, it’s important to ensure that the questions are worded accurately and clearly so that the responses are meaningful. It’s also important to ensure that the questions are not leading or biased in any way.

When using interviews or focus groups to conduct customer research, it’s important to ensure that all participants are comfortable with discussing their opinions without any pressure. It’s also important to ensure that all participants are given ample opportunity to express their opinions without being interrupted or steered in any particular direction.

Finally, it’s important to analyze the data collected carefully. By taking the time to analyze the data thoroughly and draw meaningful conclusions, businesses can gain valuable insights into their customers that can help inform future strategies and decisions.

Conducting customer research can provide businesses with invaluable insights about their customers that can help them improve customer satisfaction and engagement. By following best practices for conducting customer research and taking the time to analyze the data collected, businesses can gain the knowledge they need to make informed decisions that will help them grow and adapt to changing customer needs.

It is also important to ensure that customer research is conducted regularly. By conducting customer research on a regular basis, businesses can stay up to date on customer needs and preferences, allowing them to make timely adjustments to their strategies and offerings.

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Creating empathetic user personas for better customer understanding, the power of user feedback in improving user experience.

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Customer Research 101: A Complete Guide! (Importance & Types)

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Know your customers or perish – over 90% of startups fail due to a lack of market need. Ouch! But fear not, customer research is here to save the day. By truly understanding your target audience, you can create products and messaging that resonate.

In this ultimate guide, we’ll explore the what, why, and how of effective customer research. You’ll learn both quantitative and qualitative methods to uncover real insights from potential and current customers. With the right research game plan, you can identify customer pain points, behaviors, and needs to drive innovation and loyalty.

We’ll cover essential techniques like surveys, interviews, focus groups, and user testing. Whether you’re an enterprise or a scrappy startup, you’ll find proven ways to maximize research on any budget. Ready to get inside the minds and hearts of customers? Let’s dive into the importance of research for business success! This comprehensive guide will equip you with the tools to avoid failure and align your offerings with what buyers want.

What is Customer Research?

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at your favorite companies? The reality is, they spend a lot of time trying to get inside their customers’ heads. Conducting customer research is like doing a deep dive into what real people really want.

Businesses use research tools like surveys, interviews and focus groups to literally ask customers questions.

  • “What matters most to you?”
  • “Which parts of our product could use improvement?” and
  • “What do you hope to see in the future?”

Market research helps too – keeping an ear to the ground on changes happening outside helps adjust to new customer needs. Testing things out with a small group of people before huge launches also saves companies from potential embarrassment!

All this valuable input guides important choices about everything from how things are designed to how customers learn about brands. It’s basically like a customer think-tank to solve problems and fuel innovation.

At the end of the day, customer research is about genuinely understanding perspectives from the user side. It’s how businesses stay in sync with real human desires and build genuine connections worth sticking around for. So speak up – your honest feedback is what keeps brands on their toes!

Now that we’ve covered what customer research entails, the next section will explore why it is so critically important for businesses to conduct thorough customer research on a regular basis.

Why is Customer Research Important?

To truly succeed in business, you need to understand the perspectives and priorities of your customers. Regular customer research provides invaluable insights that can guide strategic decision making. By learning directly from the people you serve, you gain a deeper understanding of their true needs and priorities. Here are 5 key reasons why actively researching customers is so critical:

1. Product Development

Customer feedback is a treasure trove of information that can drive product development . By actively seeking out customer opinions, you can pinpoint the exact features, functionalities, or improvements they desire. This is a more targeted approach than simply guessing what customers might want. Such a strategy can lead to products and services that not only satisfy existing customer needs but also attract new customers. It lowers the risk of product failure and increases the likelihood of customer loyalty and repeat purchases.

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2. Identify Market Trends

Market trends can shape the success or failure of a business. Through customer research, you can spot emerging patterns in consumer behavior, preferences, and decision-making processes. This can include shifts in preferences for digital shopping, desire for sustainable products, or emerging technologies. Being able to identify these trends before they become mainstream gives you a competitive edge. You can swiftly adapt your offerings to meet changing demands, thus staying relevant in the market.

Read More:  Market Research 101: How To Conduct Research Like A Pro!

3. Pricing Strategy

Pricing is more than just a cost-recovery mechanism; it’s a powerful tool for communicating a product’s value. Customer research can reveal how much customers are willing to pay for your product and the factors influencing their perception of its value. With this information, you can develop a pricing strategy that maximizes profit while ensuring your product or service still appears attractive to customers. This can involve techniques like value-based pricing, psychological pricing, or price skimming, depending on your findings.

4. Effective Marketing

Understanding your customers’ preferences, habits, and motivations allows you to create more effective marketing campaigns. Knowing which channels your customers prefer (e.g., email, social media, print, etc.) helps you reach them more efficiently. Additionally, knowing their motivations and pain points allows you to craft messages that resonate more deeply with them. This increases the chances of converting prospects into customers and improves the return on investment (ROI) of your marketing efforts.

5. Customer Retention

Acquiring new customers is often more costly than retaining existing ones. Therefore, understanding what keeps customers loyal to your brand is crucial. Regular customer research can uncover the key drivers of satisfaction and loyalty, as well as reasons for customer churn. This can include factors like product quality, customer service, pricing, or brand reputation. By addressing any issues and continually meeting customers’ needs , you can increase customer lifetime value (CLV), which in turn boosts profitability. Regular research keeps you in touch with customer sentiment and helps you maintain strong, lasting relationships with your customers.

Read More:  Customer Loyalty Program: What is it & What are the Benefits? [Examples]

By gaining real customer perspectives, businesses can make more informed decisions to better serve their audiences now and into the future.

Understanding the importance of customer research is key, and there are various methods used to collect important customer data. In the next section, we will explore the different types of customer research that can be conducted.

Types of Customer Research

Customer research is a cornerstone of successful business strategy. It empowers organizations to gain insights into their target audience, understand their needs, preferences, and behaviors, and make informed decisions to improve products, services, and overall customer satisfaction. Four primary types of customer research play pivotal roles in this process: qualitative, quantitative, primary, and secondary research. In this section, we will delve into these four types of customer research, shedding light on their significance and how they can be effectively applied.

1. Qualitative Research

Qualitative research involves gathering non-numerical data and insights. This method includes techniques such as focus groups, in-depth interviews, and ethnographic research. Qualitative research is ideal for uncovering underlying motivations, emotions, and opinions of customers. It provides rich, descriptive information that helps businesses understand the “why” behind customer actions and preferences, allowing for more targeted decision-making.

2. Quantitative Research

Quantitative research, in contrast to qualitative research, focuses on numerical data and statistical analysis. Surveys, questionnaires, and experiments are common quantitative research tools. This approach is essential for collecting data on customer behaviors, preferences, and trends at scale. It provides quantifiable metrics and enables businesses to make data-driven decisions, such as product feature prioritization and pricing strategies.

Read More:  Data-driven Marketing: Steps, Best Practices, Challenges & More!

3. Primary Research

Primary research involves collecting firsthand data specifically for a company’s unique needs. This can be achieved through surveys, interviews, observations, or experiments conducted directly by the business. Primary research is highly tailored and provides up-to-date, relevant information tailored to a company’s specific goals and objectives. It is particularly useful when seeking insights into niche markets or when addressing specific business challenges.

4. Secondary Research

Secondary research involves gathering and analyzing existing data and information from external sources such as industry reports, academic studies, and market research published by others. This cost-effective approach helps companies stay informed about industry trends, competitor strategies, and customer demographics without conducting new research from scratch. Secondary research is valuable for benchmarking, trend analysis, and validating primary research findings.

By employing various types of customer research, including qualitative, quantitative, primary, and secondary research, companies can gain a comprehensive understanding of their customers, markets, and competitors. Armed with these insights, businesses can fine-tune their strategies, create more customer-centric products and services, and ultimately thrive in today’s dynamic and competitive business landscape.

Now that we’ve explored the different types of customer research, the next section will cover effective ways to actually conduct this research.

Effective Ways To Conduct Customer Research

Conducting effective customer research is crucial for businesses looking to understand their target audience, improve their products or services, and ultimately, boost their bottom line. By gaining insights into customer preferences, pain points, and behavior, companies can make informed decisions that drive growth and customer satisfaction. In this section, we will explore 7 effective ways to conduct customer research.

1. Surveys and Questionnaires

Surveys and questionnaires are versatile tools for gathering valuable customer insights. They allow you to collect structured data on a wide range of topics, from product satisfaction to demographic information. Ensure that your surveys are concise, well-designed, and easy to complete to maximize response rates. Online survey platforms like SurveyMonkey and Google Forms make it simple to create and distribute surveys to your target audience.

2. Customer Interviews

One-on-one interviews provide an in-depth understanding of your customers’ thoughts and feelings. Conduct both structured and unstructured interviews to dig deeper into specific issues or to uncover unexpected insights. Make sure to create an open and non-judgmental environment where customers feel comfortable sharing their opinions. These interviews can be conducted in person, over the phone, or via video conferencing.

3. Social Media Monitoring

Social media platforms are treasure troves of customer feedback and sentiment. Use social media listening tools to track mentions, comments, and reviews related to your brand or industry. Analyzing this data can reveal emerging trends, customer concerns, and opportunities for engagement. Engage with your audience on social media to build rapport and gain more insights organically.

4. Customer Analytics

Leverage web analytics tools like Google Analytics or customer relationship management (CRM) systems to track user behavior on your website or within your product. Analyze metrics such as click-through rates, bounce rates, and conversion rates to identify pain points and areas for improvement. By understanding how customers interact with your online presence, you can optimize their experience and increase conversion rates.

5. Online Forums and Communities

Online forums and communities dedicated to your industry or niche can provide a wealth of information. Participate in these communities or simply observe discussions to identify common challenges, desires, and preferences among your target audience. Platforms like Reddit, Quora, and specialized industry forums are excellent places to start.

6. Competitor Analysis

Analyzing your competitors can offer valuable insights into customer behavior and preferences. Study their customer reviews, social media engagement, and market positioning to identify gaps in the market or areas where you can differentiate your offering. Understanding why customers choose your competitors over you can help you refine your strategy.

7. A/B Testing

A/B testing involves comparing two or more variations of a webpage, email, or advertisement to determine which one performs better with your target audience. By systematically testing different elements like headlines, images, or call-to-action buttons, you can make data-driven improvements to optimize customer engagement and conversion rates.

By using surveys, interviews, social media monitoring, analytics, online communities, competitor analysis, and A/B testing, you can gain a 360-degree view of your customers’ preferences and behaviors. This knowledge will enable you to make informed decisions, enhance your products or services, and ultimately, build stronger, lasting customer relationships. Remember that customer research is an ongoing process; regularly revisit these methods to stay attuned to evolving customer needs and market dynamics.

And there you have it – the complete lowdown on customer research! We covered what it is, why bothering to listen to your patrons is pivotal, different ways to gather intel, and tips for doing it well.

While digging deep into customer minds may sound tedious, we hope this guide showed how fascinating and fruitful the process can be. Staying curious about your crew keeps your finger on the pulse of what truly fuels their passions.

So don’t be afraid to spy on them in action, quiz big crowds, chat one-on-one, or analyze clues hidden in the numbers. Customers have a story to share if you make the effort to understand their perspective.

Turning feedback into slick new perks or smoother experiences will wow existing fans and catch the eyes of potential newbies. With an open ear, you can design offerings that resonate authentically instead of going rogue on assumptions alone.

Research may require dedication, but the rewards of truly knowing your people makes it a total blast. Now get out there and start some conversational focus circles, surveys, observations – whatever fire sparks your customer curiosity! The more you explore what makes them tick, the more success you’ll attract.

Further Reads:

What is Customer Delight? Learn More!

Customer Touch Points & How To Identify Them? (Examples & Tips)

AIDA Model: How To Connect & Engage With Your Customers?

Customer Journey Map: Definition, Importance, and Process!

User Persona: What is it & How to Create it?

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17 Ways to Conduct Customer Research Right Now & Collect Valuable Feedback

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Whether you’re marketing a brand new startup or a seasoned veteran, there’s no substitute for real customer feedback and research.

After all, you can’t market anything effectively if you don’t know who you’re selling to.

Customer research is such a crucial part of marketing that, when we asked survey respondents how important they considered customer research to be, nearly 93% rated it as “Very Important” or “Crucially Important.”

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“Marketers need to conduct customer research at the very least annually. In order to sell to someone, you need to know their needs,” said Tim Brown of Hook Agency .

Brown’s comment got us thinking—if customer research is so important, how often are people doing it? When we asked those same marketers that question, we got some varied responses. But crucially, the majority skewed toward more often, with over 25% reporting quarterly customer research efforts and nearly 20% reporting they conduct customer research daily .

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So what are marketers actually doing to conduct that customer research? When we asked our respondents about that, there were 4 clear winners that more than half of the marketers we spoke with reported using:

  • Customer interviews
  • Email surveys
  • Analytics analysis
  • Online research

But we also heard about many other creative ways to conduct customer research that we hadn’t thought of before.

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On that note, here are the 20 customer research methods marketers shared with us.


1. Leverage Existing Customer Reviews

Brian Jensen of Congruent Digital recommended turning to a familiar source for customer research: online reviews. “We used a tool called Apify to crawl and return all of our client’s reviews into a database. We then put into a text analysis tool to find the top keywords and phrases (attributes) customers used in their reviews.”

Jensen says they used this data to help improve the client’s messaging.

“Once we had the data and knew by occurrences what their customers enjoyed most about their experience, we updated ads and landing pages to better identify with the needs and expectations of prospects.”

2. Spend a Day in Your Customer’s Office

Phil Strazzulla of SelectSoftware shared another customer research method we hadn’t heard about before. Strazzulla recommended spending a full day, in-office with your customer, saying “This allows me to have informal conversations with the key stakeholders I need to market to in order to better understand their challenges, goals, language, and personalities.”

“Simply reach out to a potential or current customer and ask if you can work from their space for a day,” Strazzulla explained. “And have as much free time as you can to walk around and talk to people in the office about what they do and how you can help them with your product.”

3. Turn to Data Analytics

Analytics analysis was one of the top 4 answers we heard—but it’s a broad term, so we were interested to learn more about what marketers do with analytics.

“When we do customer and product research, we start by understanding how customers are using the tool by looking at their data and usage, and then benchmarking it with their industry,” said Supratim Da Dam of CallPage . “This allows us to have a solid idea of how our customers are deploying our solution, the gaps, successes, blockers, and more.”

Robert Baillieul of Lombardi Publishing uses Twitter Analytics to identify topics and pains that resonate with their customers. “Anything that consistently generates engagement rates north of 5% indicates a huge pain point for your customer—sometimes issues they would never admit to out loud. You can then turn these insights into new products, services, or content.”

“We get data from many tools we’re using (email marketing, website analytics, social media, and more),” explained Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers . “With the help of a great data analyst and a tool like Google Data Studio, we can quickly analyze our customers.”

Vira Vielmann of Seventh Scout says they turn to social media analytics most often. “We typically utilize social media analytics to learn more about the audience engaging with us. This gives us an amazing insight into their demographics and interests. They also let us know what topics and posts are doing well and which aren’t performing the best, so we can adjust our strategy and editorial calendars as needed.”  

4. Collect Customer Survey Responses

“My favorite way to get customer research is to send out an email survey,” James Pollard of The Advisor Coach said. “I keep it short (about five or six questions) and only ask them the questions that will have the biggest impact on my business.”

Based on the marketers we spoke with, there are more benefits to this type of research to learn the voice of customer than you may expect.

“When you really pay attention to the way that people share information with you,” Amber Vilhauer of NGNG Enterprises said, “you’ll notice your audience using specific verbiage and wording that you can bake into your website. Often times the way that you would describe your services is very different than the way that a customer or prospect would describe those services.”

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“Ultimately, people want good products that will serve them well,” Mr. SR of Semi-Retire Plan explained, “so they do have an interest in giving you helpful information to improve your —especially if they’re an existing customer who already has an affinity for your brand.”

That said, marketing consultant Farheen Gill suggests giving customers a little added incentive. “Include them in the last phase of your welcome email journeys, but also offer giveaways for other surveys you need to run throughout the year (i.e. ‘Respond today to be entered into a drawing for a $50 gift card’).”

“What’s important,” said Andrea Loubier of Mailbird , “is that you dig deep with your surveys. Asking generic questions isn’t going to get you very far. Make sure your multiple-choice questions offer diverse answers and don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions. You may be shocked at just how much your customers are willing to share.”

Louis Watton of Shiply suggested another tip for getting insightful, honest answers. “One creative approach we’ve used in customer research is not letting interviewees know the company conducting the research at first.”

Explaining, Watton added, “Often we’ve found that customers will hold back on criticism if they know you work for that company. The most valuable insights and potential improvements we’ve learned have come from asking broader questions about the industry, which allows them to talk freely without worrying about insulting anyone.”

“We launch every new survey or questionnaire with a video,” said Charles Musselwhite of FunLovingCouples . “We don’t ask any more than 12 questions at a time, and we always add in a weird and obscure question or two to keep people on their toes and engaged.”

5. Watch Customers Use Your Product

Samuel Wheeler of Inseev Interactive offered up another top-notch tip, recommending marketers actually watch customers using the product, navigating the website, interacting with content, and more.

“It’s a great idea to ask users to narrate their thought process as they navigate the page and ask them to actually take an action (purchase or form submission). In addition to asking the users to talk through their decision-making process.”

“It’s a great way to get both quantitative and qualitative data,“ Wheeler added.

If you need to understand how customers are using your product to gather feedback, one tool you should consider for customer feedback is Usersnap. This helpful tool allows product managers, software engineers, designers, and marketers to instantly collect information from users on-site through screen captures, screen recordings, surveys, feature requests, menu buttons, in-app forms, visual drawings, and bug reports.

Another  feedback tool  you might consider to crowdsource customer feedback and feature requests is UseResponse. This tool allows you to create feedback communities where customers can post their feedback, while others can comment and upvote it.

Pro Tip: Here Is Your Go-To Dashboard For Measuring the Performance of Your Customer Support Team

No matter your role in customer support – agent, manager, or VP – your core focus is to ensure that customers’ issues, complaints, and information requests are always dealt with promptly and efficiently. But to stay on track, you may have to spend hours manually compiling data from different tools into a comprehensive report. Now you can quickly monitor and analyze your customer service performance data from Intercom in a single dashboard that monitors fundamental metrics, such as:

  • New conversations . Track the total number of new conversations your customer support team handles daily, weekly, monthly, or within the specified date range.
  • Open conversations by team member . View the total number of conversations in your support inbox that are still open and find out which team members are handling them.
  • Leads . Track the number of leads generated by your customer support team within a specified date range. Dig deeper to learn the nature of the messages that help convert visitors to leads, and use your insights to improve future conversations.
  • Users by tag name . View the total number of conversations your customer support team has handled over time and see how your team members tagged those messages in Intercom. Using tags makes it easier for anyone monitoring the dashboard to learn more about customer needs, interests, and issues.

Now you can benefit from the experience of our customer support experts, who have put together a plug-and-play Databox template that contains all the essential metrics for monitoring and analyzing the performance of your customer support reps. It’s simple to implement and start using as a standalone dashboard or in customer service reports, and best of all, it’s free!


You can easily set it up in just a few clicks – no coding required.

To set up the dashboard, follow these 3 simple steps:

Step 1: Get the template 

Step 2: Connect your Intercom account with Databox. 

Step 3: Watch your dashboard populate in seconds.

6. Leverage Publicly Available Data

We talk a lot about gathering and analyzing data these days, but one thing marketers often forget about is the wealth of existing data that are publicly available online. “A lot of people overlook the incredible amount of data that the government and nonprofits collect that can be useful for customer research,” said Jeromy Sonne of Reverb Agency .

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“The most creative approach I’ve used to learn more about my customers is public records, which give me additional information about the customer’s location, demographics, behavioral specialties,” added Emily Andrews of RecordsFinder . “Public records have a big database, which helps me to understand how better I can sell my clients’ goods or services.”

Carmine Mastropierro of Mastro Commerce told us about a hybrid customer research process: “One approach I’ve used to learn more about my customers is a mix of online research and market research tools.”

“Studying industry reports,” Mastropierro explained, “allowed me to get a broad overview of who my customers are and how they behave. Then, Google Analytics and other online tools helped me narrow down demographics, interests, and other behaviors to refine my audience.

7. Use Facebook Audience Insights

Casey Hill of Bonjoro also recommended pulling customer data from where it’s readily available already. In Hill’s case, that’s Facebook’s Audience Insights tool.

“It’s a free tool through Facebook,” Hill explained, “and it will give you information on any intended audience.” According to Hill, Audience Insights can help marketers answer questions like:

  • What kind of jobs do customers have?
  • When are they active online?
  • What pages do they follow?

“It’s an incredible tool for customer research that many people aren’t aware exists.”

8. Have a One-on-One Conversation

“I find that doing a 30-minute video call beats every other type of research,” said Corey Haines of Hey Marketers . “With the right questions in hand and a friendly conversational tone, so much can be uncovered that you would never know otherwise.”

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Sarah McIntyre of Bright Inbound Marketing agreed with Haines, saying, “Actually talking with people is critically important to understand, not just what they think about your product or service, but how they found you, what the sales process was like, who else they were considering, why they chose you. Unless you actually ask, you’ll be running your marketing based on assumptions.”

According to Renee Bauer, Hello Marketing Agency abides by a similar strategy for customer research. “We do regular NPS surveys for a client, and we ask responders to let us know if they are willing to participate in a one-on-one interview. These interviews serve as a helpful supplement to persona research, and provide actionable information for our client about what’s important to their current customers and how they need to improve their service.”

“Face to face encounters in a more social setting (as opposed to an interview or focus group) will give you the most honest, instinctive, and digestible feedback,” said Kyle Turk of Keynote Search.

“Online feedback methods, although they still provide great feedback, allows the user to spend too much time thinking of a response, and the ability to manipulate their responses. It also really only captures your promoters and detractors. The core customer group that is neutral about your product or service will not engage in the feedback, leaving a large gap in data.”

Anna Kaine of ESM Inbound echoed Turk, noting that “picking up the phone for a talk with customers is always more personal and genuine than just sending out a questionnaire—because you can really probe and show you’re listening. It’s a far more human experience.”

“We are clear and open about the focus of the calls, and they’re always happy to help us – after all, it’s in their best interests for us to focus closer on their pain points,” Kaine added.

Paige Arnof-Fenn of Mavens & Moguls recommended make a tour of customer interviews. “Go on a Listening Tour. Ask a few smart, open-ended questions, then sit back and take notice. Start listening with no strings attached and you’ll be amazed at what you find.”

Ever Increasing Circles ’ Alistair Dodds seconded Arnof-Fenn’s last point, adding, “We’ve found out things that I don’t think would have ever come up in an office or business environment. And it’s helped us to really focus in on how to get the client to their real objective.”

9. Conduct Research With Google

It’s no surprise that the king, queen, and jester of online research is, of course, Google. But the marketers we spoke with noted so many novel ways to use Google search for customer research, including:

  • Reading competitors’ customer reviews on Google My Business
  • Researching the way customers speak about your product and industry
  • Tailoring content toward real customer pain points and questions

“Google is an excellent resource to learn more about your customers, without the use of expensive tools,” said Ben Johnston of Sagefrog Marketing Group . “If you’re in a competitive space, look at your competition’s Google My Business profiles and read the reviews of satisfied and unsatisfied customers to learn what real customers like or don’t like about your direct competition.

Roman Zhyvitsk of Travel SEO Agency touted the importance of using Google to better understand how your customers speak about (and search for) your business. “When you sell your products or services online, it is highly important to know what search phrases people use to find it. Very often it is not as obvious as you might think.”

Johnston also noted how Google can help with ensuring content resonates with your customers, saying, “You can refine your content ideas to actually engage with your customer base by looking at ‘People Also Ask’ or ‘People Also Search For.’ That’s a direct insight into what kinds of questions your customer base is asking and what they’re interested in.”

Set Up Google Alerts for Customers and Prospects

In addition to conducting manual customer research on Google, Carlos Puig of BUNCH shared another pro tip: Google Alerts.

“Right after signing a contract with a new customer, I strongly recommend setting up a Google Alert for the name of the company and the names of the people you closed the deal with. Google will keep pushing relevant information that will help you understand the situation of your client and detect potential upsells.”

10. Ask Customers to Rate Your UX

Much of the advice we heard focused on overall customer information. But Victor Antiu of Sleek Bill says they focus on the micro aspects of customer experiences, too.

“Throughout the app, we marked micro-conversions. When the user finishes one (for example creates and sends an invoice), we show a small rating bar and based on the score he gives us, we either show him a small survey to find out what was hard, or we thank him and ask what we can improve.”

“It’s a similar system to what Skype and Booking.com do,” Antiu explained. “It’s a simple way to find pain points or issues in various funnels.”

11. Use Social Listening

“Social media is probably the best tool that you could use to understand the thought process of your client,” said Harry Gandia of Igniting Movement . “Social media can help a marketer discover what their target audience is thinking in real-time. Not many other mediums can offer that. And it’s totally free.”

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Many of the marketers we spoke with invoked one form of social listening or another. After all, social media is where customers hang out—regardless of who your customers are.

Find Their Online Groups and Hangouts

“One approach we use to learn more about our customers,” Kelsey Miller of Pepperland Marketing explained, “is to find the online groups, forums, and communities that they frequent. This can be in the form of Facebook groups, Reddit threads, industry-specific forums, hashtags, and so on. This is helpful in understanding how these people interact with each other, the questions they are asking, the challenges they are facing, and so much more.”

Alexandra Sheehan of Coach Content recommends turning to Facebook Groups specifically. “I love joining Facebook groups that my audience is likely to be a part of and just observing their behavior. This shows you what really makes them tick. The things that annoy them, their true pain points, their sense of humor, little nuances like that.”

“ Find out where your customers are hanging out online,” advised Vinoth AJ of Apoyo Corp , adding, “One proven method is Quora. All we have to do is type a topic and it will display all questions related to that topic. Go ahead and read all the questions related to your market.”

Create Your Own Group

While many marketers recommend going where the customers are, there’s also some benefit to taking the Field of Dreams approach.

“By far the best way to learn more about our customers has been to create a dedicated Facebook group around our products,” said Jonathan Chan of Insane Growth . “Not only does this give us the ability to foster a real sense of community around our brand, but we have routine access to the most highly-engaged members of our audience.”

Jack Paxtone of VYPER echoed Chan, explaining, “Hosting a forum either on our website or on Reddit turned out to be a great way to build a database of feedback from our clients, while also engaging with them to build a strong relationship for our brand.”

“The Vyper Facebook Group is currently our most popular platform for getting to know our customers,” Paxtone added. “We can freely interact with each other, understand their likes and dislikes, and also request valuable feedback when we are beta testing new products and services.”

Jarrod Miller-Dean of Housecall Pro added, “We utilize community outreach in our private Facebook group. For example, by posing a question in the group and asking members for their help and response.”

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12. Use Heatmap Tools to Understand How Customers See Your Website

Customer research is about more than just who your customers are. It’s also about understanding how they interact with your brand and your product. That’s why Sneh Ratna Choudhary of Beaconstac recommended using a heat mapping tool to better understand and optimize their website for the customers visiting.

“We’ve been using Hotjar to understand the exact pain points of users to implement a human-centered design.”

“For instance,” Choudhary explained, “our free QR Code Generator tool was receiving visitors, but there weren’t any real conversions. We looked at Hotjar videos only to find out that we had way too many CTAs to begin with. Upon realizing this, we scaled down our CTA to include only 3 major CTAs and our visitor-to-trial conversion rate is currently hovering at 15.6%.”

13. Keep It Informal

For some, customer research can feel like a weighty, formal undertaking—but it doesn’t have to be, and many of the marketers we heard from reminded us of that.

“So many business owners and entrepreneurs think that market research is this big, complicated thing,” Carla Williams Johnson of Carli Communications pointed out. “And, while you can conduct structured surveys and questionnaires, you can also simply ask your customers directly what they think of an idea that you may have.”

“Sometimes that direct, informal approach can give you the best feedback,” Johnson added.

Liz Courtney of BBMG took that idea to the next level, saying, “To get more realistic and meaningful insight into consumers’ needs, aspirations and behavior, we try to connect with them on their own turf. Visiting them in their homes, going shopping with them, or chatting with them in pairs with a friend rather than forcing them into unnatural settings like sterile focus groups or relying only on multiple-choice surveys.”

14. Tap Your Network for Feedback

Kathleen Marrero of First Fig Marketing & Consulting emphasized the effect an existing relationship can have on the kind of customer research and feedback you end up with, suggesting your network is a great place to start.

“I have found the best way to learn more about potential customers is to open up a friendly dialogue with connections I have on social media platforms. I have reached out to numerous connections on sites like LinkedIn and asked for a real, honest conversation about whatever space I am gathering information within, the good and bad and any other information that would help me better serve the community.”

“I have found that people are very willing to offer insight if there is no sales pitch,” Marrero added.

15. Leverage Your Email Subscribers

“Reaching out to email subscribers to ask what’s bothering them is one of the most effective ways to learn more about customers,” said Priscilla Tan of Content Kapow .

“Two weeks ago,” Tan shared, “I was struggling to write a blog post. I didn’t know which topics to focus on. Rather than going with my gut, I asked my subscribers. I gave them 3 options and picked the one with the most number of votes. Not only did it help with topic development, but it also helped me to dig deeper into the pain points they’re facing at work.”

16. Offer a Beta Version of Your Product in Exchange for Feedback

One common thread throughout the responses we heard was that, while customers do have an incentive to help you create a better product for them, that isn’t always enough to entice feedback or survey responses.

To combat that problem, Carsten Schaefer of Crowdy.ai suggested offering a beta or paired-down version of your product in exchange.

“We launched a beta for 100 days before going live with our product. We gave our beta users all the features completely free in exchange for one thing: feedback about our product and how they used it for their business,” Schaefer explained. “It has brought us incredible insights which we used in the final iteration of the product.”

17. Learn from Live Chat and Support Interactions

If there’s one painfully overlooked source of customer research, it’s the support team. Few other teams within a business have the kind of direct contact with customers that customer support pros see every day.

Zack Naylor of Aurelius said, “I make it a point to answer every single live chat we get on our website for product questions and requests. Often what happens is that I get to learn a lot about potential customers from what they’re looking for and end up being able to schedule a live call to dive deeper and learn more.”

Get to Know Your Customers

Customers are the lifeblood of every successful business, and finding business traction and growth depends on your ability to get to know and understand your customers.

Whether you’re ready to go big with a large, organized customer survey or simply want to chat one-on-one with a few customers, you’ll emerge better equipped to serve their needs and grow the business.

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How to Conduct Customer Research

Kiley Peters

Audience Research , Content Marketing

If you don’t understand what your customers want and how they want it, it will be challenging for your business to achieve its goals. And the best way to get the insights you need to successfully connect and form relationships with your customers is to understand their motivations, fears, pain points, desires, and struggles. When you can understand the motivations behind their behavior, you can provide meaningful solutions to your customers’ problems. Conducting customer research can give you the answers you need to run a successful business. Keep reading to learn about your options for customer research, and for tips to get started today.


Before you start conducting customer research, you need to understand your options, and we can break this down in multiple ways. Let’s start with primary versus secondary research . 

Primary research involves insights and data you personally collect about your audience. Think conducting surveys, analyzing social media, asking a customer to hop on a call for a conversation, or emailing back and forth with a current or prospective customer. 

Secondary research , on the other hand, utilizes information collected by somebody else, including government reports, third-party reports, online lists or databases, and analytics tools like free and paid keyword research websites. 

Let’s break this down further. Your data, whether primary or secondary, can be quantitative or qualitative . Quantitative data involves numbers. Consider your email marketing service and how you can look at open rates, clickthrough rates, and bounce rates. Qualitative research gets to the why behind the numbers. Both give you valuable information and combining the two covers both angles of your customer research.  

Ultimately, your juicier data will be qualitative, and this data can be a north star for your content strategy. It’s great to know information like a customer’s location, job title, age, and gender, but it’s golden to know why they wake up in the morning. But different types of research might make more sense for your business. Let’s talk about that.


There are so many different types of research you can do, and your decision will hinge on the size of your business, the resources at your disposal, your team makeup, your prior experience, and your goals. Let’s walk through some of your options for conducting customer research so that you can make the best decision for your business. 

Use Databases and Industry Research One of the easiest ways to do customer research is to use preexisting databases and publicly available industry research. All this secondary research requires is an internet search, and if you want to, a small fee to pay for specific collections of data. Some examples of places to look for private research include: Pew, Gartner, Forrester. And if you want public research, check out U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor & Statistics.Every single year, there are large organizations that conduct research that all of us can benefit from. And some marketing-adjacent companies do the work of angels and compile said research in easy-to-read blogs . One caveat here is that national or global statistics may not reflect your industry or audience’s exact nature. Primary research fills that gap.

Create Your Own Survey We know a thing or two about creating surveys to do customer research. Surveys involve identifying your audience, creating close-ended questions, and gaining valuable insights to guide your business. You can read all about it in our blog about survey best practices .

Talk to People, One-on-One Whether you’re hosting a focus group , emailing back and forth with a customer, or talking to prospective customers over the phone, talking one-on-one can help you get to know the people behind the data. While numbers are great, and super useful, hearing your audience’s story as narrated by them will give you more information about the whys behind their choices and perspectives.

Leverage Social Media Social media is essential for running a business in 2021, and while it’s a great way to connect with your audience, it can also be a fruitful source of research. Use poll features to ask what your audience cares about. Let them know you’re doing a survey—and what’s in it for them. Ask what kind of content they want more of. And observe. What do they like, what is underneath the surface of their comments.

Take it further than your profiles, and do hashtag searches. See what accounts people follow, what conversations they participate in, and what they care about.


Once you’ve decided it’s time to conduct customer research, and you’ve chosen your method, you need to find some customers to talk to. You can interview prospective customers or current customers, depending on your research goals, but either way, use your resources to leverage a sampling of your audience. 

Many businesses have customer relationship management (CRM) software they can use to identify subsets of customers to speak with. You can use your email list, specifically segments or tags, to send out a survey or ask for feedback. Ask for participants through social media. 

If you have a strong sales team, talk to them! They may know of a handful of customers to reach out to for insights. Moreover, the salespeople themselves may have insights to offer. Ask them if they notice trends. See if there are signs, behavioral or otherwise, that they notice in customers before they close a deal. 

It helps to do a soft startup; don’t just send a survey out to your email list. Ask people if they would be willing to do a survey, participate in a focus group, or have a conversation. And you can sweeten the deal by including incentives. 

If there’s something in it for your customers (or prospective customers), they will be more likely to participate. Offer a discount code for completing a survey. Send a thank-you note. Include a free downloadable resource for them once you talk. Show them that you value their time and will pay in kind. In order to connect with your customers through research, you need to be in the right mindset.


When you decide to conduct customer research, you need to get your game face on. And by game face, we mean the right mindset for talking to your customers on a deeper level. You’ll get high-quality answers to your questions when you approach your research with:

  • Curiosity —Seek to understand. Be an active listener and center the customer in your interactions. 
  • Empathy —Try to put yourself in their shoes. Aim to connect with them on a human level. 
  • Flexibility —If your customer says something intriguing, don’t be afraid to diverge from your list of questions. Natural conversations don’t come with blueprints. 
  • An open-mind —You may have preconceived notions about your customers. Set those aside. Give them space to enlighten you. 
  • A casual approach —People are more likely to conceal truths if they feel pressured or on the spot. Make your customer research enjoyable. Be friendly, be interested, be casual. 

Once you’re in your customer research mindset, get ready to ask the right questions.


If you don’t understand how to ask the right questions, you could get answers that lead your business and content strategy in the wrong direction. When approaching qualitative customer research, aim to ask open-ended questions and let your customers fill in the blanks. 

It’s a slightly different approach with surveys, as you want to ask close-ended questions to compile a bunch of quantitative data. But if you’re doing a focus group or one-on-one conversation, ask open-ended questions. If your questions are close-ended, they don’t leave much room for your customer to share their story. And when designing an open-ended question, make sure it’s not leading. Here’s an example: 

Do: What challenges do you face with raising your children? 

Don’t: Most parents find time management challenging. What do you think about that? 

Leading questions give you the answers you want, not the answers you need. When you ask thoughtful, open-ended questions, you can watch your customer’s story unfold. You’ll hear about a problem they have. The stress and frustration they felt. How they looked high and low for a solution and came to your website, found you on social media, or heard about your company from a friend. You’ll know what stuck out to them—the language you used, the solutions you offered, the ease of purchasing, the social proof. You’ll find out what mattered most to them, and why they keep coming back. 

Every aspect of your business should be a mirror for each part of your customer’s story. Remember, customer research is guided by the customer. Once you have your sometimes unexpected, but always valuable answers, it’s time to compile your insights.

6. Compile Your Insights

Okay so you did your research. Now what? It’s time to synthesize your research into an useful package. The format is up to you, and depends on what works best for your team, but you can make a slide deck, write a formal report, or host a webinar. Or all of the above! But don’t keep your valuable information to yourself. Analyze your insights, figure out what you’ve learned, and make a plan for action.

7. Evolve Your Business

The whole point of conducting customer research is to identify gaps in connection. Where are you falling short with your customers? When do you experience disconnection with them? Why do they decide not to use your services or purchase your goods? What stops them from clicking, adding to the cart, or buying from you again? What are their values and does your business share those values? These are vital questions to ask, and once you have the answers, you can create solutions to your own problems. 

Have discussions with your team once you analyze your customer research. What insights do your team members have? What solutions can they come up with? Create a step-by-step plan for addressing your gaps in connection in meaningful ways. The magic of customer research is that it is a straightforward way to create business growth.


Kiley Founder & CEO

Kiley Peters is the Founder and CEO of Brainchild Studios, a boutique audience research, content strategy, and website creation agency primarily serving brands targeting Millennial Moms or business owners. She is also the Founder of the Work From Home Playbook, a series of online courses guiding aspiring entrepreneurial moms through the steps of starting a virtual business. She also launched the Brainchild Fund, a nonprofit initiative to support women and girls in business and entrepreneurship Follow her on Instagram .

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A Simple Guide for Conducting Customer Research

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Growth is the catalyst for any successful business. And key to scaling your business over time is ensuring your brand remains focused and relevant . Successful brands are those that keep a constant finger on the pulse of their customers. They’re growing and changing too, after all. That’s why customer research is so important.

It’s easy to get complacent, but if you’re not checking in with your customers at regular intervals, you could lose them to a competitor for reasons you never imagined. Ongoing customer research can prevent that from happening.

Attracting new customers is no different. To grow your customer base, it’s important to be constantly identifying the motivations, preferences, needs and buying habits of your target customers.

Once you have a solid understanding of what makes your customer tick, you can begin to hone your marketing and sales tactics as well. Let’s look at why customer research is so important, and review some ways to execute a research strategy that gives you a marketing edge with both current and future customers.

What is Customer Research?

A Simple Guide For Conducting Customer Research - Group Meeting | Ignyte Branding

Customer research is designed to reveal shared traits within groups, enabling you to segment audiences and define buyer personas for more targeted marketing efforts.

Buyer personas are generalized representations of your target customers. These research-based profiles describe who your ideal customers are, the challenges they face, and how they make purchasing decisions. Buyer personas should be shared internally across your business and should be instrumental in developing your marketing plan.

That’s really the key. Customer research helps focus your marketing strategy, so you can reach more of the right customers—saving time and money while increasing sales.

What Methods Should I Use for Customer Research?

A Simple Guide For Conducting Customer Research - Focus Group Meeting | Ignyte Branding

Knowledge, as they say, is power. Research gives you the power to influence consumer behavior by knowing how your brand is perceived by those who experience it. Here are some other tried and true customer research methods that yield actionable insights for smarter business decisions.

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Customer Interviews

Customer interviews are the building blocks of qualitative research. Qualitative research is designed to reveal customers’ perceptions, beliefs, and motives through nuanced, in-depth exchanges. Reach out to loyal customers as well as lost customers. (It can be painful, yes, but it’s necessary.)

Work with a branding agency skilled in setting up formal, in-person interviews whenever possible. The fact is, people like being heard—it’s human nature. Interviews let you leverage this fact to collect rich user data. Using this data, you can create hypotheses about your customer base that can be tested with wider-reaching quantitative research.

Customer Surveys

While interviews make up the foundation of qualitative research, surveys are the backbone of quantitative research. Quantitative research gives you statistical information from a wider range of participants.

Surveys enable you to ask a large sample size the same questions in the same way. The sample should be representative of the demographics of the broader target market so that those insights can be extrapolated across the audience as a whole.

Focus Groups

Focus groups are a valuable qualitative research method that allows you to ask nuanced questions to a small group of participants, rather than one-on-one. These group discussions are led by a moderator with selected participants who share common characteristics (like, say, a group of professional women in their 30s).

The lively discussions that result from a well-run focus group elicit valuable insights into the perceptions and behaviors of customers within a peer group.


A methodology borrowed from cultural anthropology, ethnographic research has become a valuable tool for branding and marketing initiatives. Ethnography includes observations of consumer behavior in everyday life—either in work, home, or shopping environment.

By assessing user experience in a “natural” setting, ethnography yields insights into the practical applications of a product or service. It’s one of the best ways to identify areas of friction and improve overall user experience.

Brand Survey

Also known as “brand perception surveys,” brand surveys help you understand how your brand is perceived by customers, prospects, and/or internal stakeholders.

The insights that emerge from brand surveys give you a better idea of how your brand is performing within the competitive landscape. Ideally, your brand survey should be designed to glean insight into the four human factors that determine brand affinity:

  • Cognition: What ideas do survey respondents associate with your brand?
  • Emotion: How do respondents feel about your brand?
  • Language: How do respondents talk about your brand? (How would they describe it to others?)
  • Action: How do respondents interact with your brand?

Brand surveys give you insight into the strength of your marketing efforts and whether your customers’ experience aligns with your brand narrative.

The Takeaway

Customer research gives you a deeper understanding of what drives customer behavior. With that knowledge, you can begin to develop the business and marketing strategies that deliver results, ultimately saving time and money, and, of course, boosting sales.

Remember, customer research shouldn’t be a one-and-done endeavor. It should be part of your ongoing branding and marketing strategy and even incorporated into your product or service development. After all, understanding your customers and what compels them to act makes reaching and connecting with them that much easier.

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What Does Customer Research Mean to You?

When you hear the term  customer research , what comes to mind?

Most organizations have a Voice of the Customer (or VoC) program; maybe that’s the first thing you think of. Voice of the Customer programs help organizations keep a finger on the pulse of how they’re meeting customer needs , with VoC data revealing how customers feel about the brand, their experience, and specific interactions and touchpoints at scale.

Maybe you think of market research, which can tell you about who your prospects and customers are , and the basics of what they care about within your industry or market.

Or how about behavioral analytics, which helps us understand what customers do and how they behave on our digital platforms and other channels?

But those are all  types of customer research. What is customer research, really?

Here’s my definition: No matter the type, customer research is an ongoing pursuit to understand our customers better that drives us to bigger, more comprehensive, and more complex research strategies.

And while it certainly encompasses the common methods mentioned above, customer research comes in many other forms than these.

No matter who you are, your customers have more to share. And some of the simplest and most effective methods are right in front of us.

A word of warning: These are not all the most scientific or scalable options. But they still bring the customer’s perspective closer to the brand.

Not all of these may be a fit for you or your organization. But if you feel disconnected or just too far away from customers, even with all that data and research, try a few of these ideas to reconnect with the individuals behind those numbers.

Talk to A Customer

This isn’t about talking to ALL customers. This is about listening to one customer at a time.

One of our most popular resources is our 21-Day Customer Experience Challenge , with 21 days worth of simple, actionable missions, guidance and inspiration. One day’s challenge is to call a customer.

That’s it. Simple, right?

There are so many ways to reach out to customers and just ask them, “How are we doing? What can we do to make it better?” It’s hard to know who customers are if we never actually talk to them!

Do make sure you have their permission to contact them first before reaching out… but as long as you do, give one or more of these variations a try:

Call one customer on the phone. 

If you’re an executive who’s a few layers away from the actual customer experience, this one’s especially for you.

  • Start by referring to Net Promoter Scores or other metrics to select customers you know have opinions to share.
  • Call a promoter one week and a detractor the next , and listen for ways the promoters and detractors describe their journey differently.
  • Keep a log to identify themes. Document what you hear but mostly just keep a very open mind and heart.

Get to know this customer and what motivates them. Then get to know the next one.

After one or three or ten calls, you’ll start seeing customers as real people. You’ll think of Sally or José when planning your next product.

Email certain customers with a specific set of open-ended questions.

This is a great exercise for contact center leaders, serving as a way to get feedback from a random sample of customers who contacted them for support.

The key is to make sure the questions are specific enough that they give you focused information, but open-ended enough that your customer has the agency to speak freely.

Let’s look at three examples. Which one gets it right?

  • Example 1: “For which of these five reasons did you contact us?”
  • Example 2: “How was your experience?”
  • Example 3: “Tell us about why you contacted us.”

Example 1, while specific to one moment (the customer’s decision to contact you), it isn’t really open-ended.

Example 2, while open-ended, isn’t specific enough that you can extract any meaningful trends from the feedback.

Example 3 is in the Goldilocks zone — just right. This is still focused on the decision to contact you, but puts no constraints on their answer. It’s more personal and meaningful.

Asking customers to tell you things in their words is very meaningful to the customer and can uncover things you hadn’t considered. Asking specific questions allows you to identify similar themes or obstacles that aren’t necessarily showing up in the reporting.

Together, they offer a powerful opportunity to learn.

Reach out proactively and personally after a certain amount of time post-sale or using the product.

Your data can guide you here, too. Reach out to customers via text (again — make sure you have permission in advance!) and ask how they are using the app they installed.

Don’t do this in a way that can be confused for automated messaging. Use names and real language.

B2B organizations can do this by reaching out to end-user teams for their products. Checking in like this gives customers a chance to share feedback as well as provide a moment of engagement otherwise overlooked.

Of course, not all customer research requires a conversation. Sometimes it’s enough to…

Observe and Listen

The key to observing is to stay humble. Employees may make mistakes, processes will fail, and products won’t work as planned.

That’s ok. Observation isn’t about micromanagement or penalizing employees when things don’t go as expected. It’s about identifying opportunities to improve for the future.

Try these observation methods to humbly learn a thing or two:

Observe customers where and how they use your product or service.

Software and technology companies often refer to this as the “follow me home” method. Companies send representatives to literally sit with customers where they are and observe how they use their product in their real environments, with real-world limitations.

  • Are customers using your product or service the way that you intended them to?
  • Are customers getting confused or hung up at any point?
  • Is your product or service delivering the way you expected it to?

I once spent two days camped out in a bank lobby to just watch how customers interacted with tellers and the environment.

It was fascinating . More than that, it ultimately led to meaningful change.

These types of “sit and watch” techniques are super helpful to uncover unsaid challenges and opportunities.

Listen in on contact center calls.

Contact center agents have a hard job: They’re usually juggling several different programs and asked to categorize all the inquiries. That’s all very important, but when we ask our contact center agents to quickly categorize things, some of the nuance can get lost.

To get a more detailed picture of both specific statements and overall themes, sometimes it helps to just listen to a call. Listening can happen live or in a pre-recorded setting, but the key is to listen for what’s  not reported.

Listening in can help you identify those bigger, more nebulous challenges in the customer’s experience to start exploring.

Pay attention to customer communities and user forums.

Customers will ask peers for direction here and explain specific challenges. They will ask for help in finding workarounds and alternative solutions.

All of those requests are signals to you where customers are required to put in too much effort!

They’re also a great place to look for those super users. These customers can become advocates and share feedback in meaningful ways… but they have to be asked.

And don’t forget social media! Now that many organizations have a social media marketing team or a social media support team, it’s easy to forget about the customers who are interacting there.

Customers have a lot to say on social media, so check in often and see how they’re engaging, not just with your brand but in general.

  • Go beyond just searching for mentions or tracking sentiment with software (though that helps!) and really explore what customers are discussing.
  • What’s drawing a lot of attention?
  • What are the requests made that aren’t getting a lot of attention but could lead to issues later?

A great way to use social media is to seek out the personas you use internally “in the wild.” Find real people who resemble your persona and see what groups they join, what questions they have, and what connections they make.

Customers are at the Heart of All Customer Data

It’s wonderful to be able to gauge how customers feel and behave at scale to move programs forward. It can be addicting to follow ratings like NPS go up and down. All of that is important to creating great customer experiences.

But customers are people, nuanced and imperfect, just like all of us. It never hurts to slow down just a bit and listen to that one person in that one moment. That’s what leads to connecting with customers in the very best ways.

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How to Do Customer Research

Last Updated: August 25, 2021 References

This article was co-authored by Janet Peischel . Janet Peischel is a Writer and Digital Media Expert and the Owner of Top of Mind Marketing. With more than 15 years of consulting experience, she develops content strategies and builds online brands for her clients. Prior to consulting, Janet spent over 15 years in the marketing industry, in positions such as the Vice President of Marketing Communications for the Bank of America. Janet holds a BA and MA from the University of Washington. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 8,242 times.

You’ve heard the expression, “The customer is always right,” but who exactly is that customer? Well, that’s where customer research comes in! The truth is, you could have an amazing product, but if you can’t get people to buy it, your business could struggle. Customer research is a vital part of helping your company thrive. And it isn’t as hard as you may think. It’s all about getting into the heads of your potential customers so you can figure out how to attract them and give them what they want.

What is customer research?

Step 1 It’s research businesses conduct about their target customers.

  • So, for example, let’s say you’re selling skincare products. You’d want to know what type of people are likely to buy your products, how they typically shop, and where you can find them. Customer research can help you find all of that out.

Step 2 The main purpose of customer research is to help your business succeed.

What are the best methods for researching customers?

Step 1 Interview customers to find out their needs and motivations.

  • Posting your survey on your business' website and social media accounts can help you reach more customers. [6] X Research source
  • Offer a reward to incentivize people to take your survey. For example, you could offer survey takers 10% off their next purchase.

Step 3 Review your analytics to see customer behavior.

How do you identify a customer?

Step 1 Figure out what customer segment they belong in.

  • It’s pretty common to have multiple buyer personas within a customer segment. For instance single women aged 18-25 can have many different types of personas.

Step 3 Ask yourself questions about who your likely customers are.

  • For example, let’s say you’re selling a high-protein shake. Your customers could be in the 18-25 age range who make less than $40,000 a year. They’re probably pretty active and exercise often. Since they’re active, they likely already drink protein shakes from competitors. But maybe you could attract them by branding your product for people in their specific age range with an affordable price and using lingo and phrases specific to their generation. You could call your product a “Lit Shake” or “Lit Fit.”

What are the 5 types of customers?

Potential, New, Impulsive, Discount, and Loyal.

  • Potential customers are people who haven’t committed to buying from you yet.
  • New customers are folks you want to stick around after their first purchase.
  • Impulsive customers may buy from you on the spot if the conditions are right.
  • Discount customers will hesitate or refuse to pay full price.
  • Loyal customers are repeat customers who can help your business grow through word of mouth.

Expert Q&A

  • Don’t be afraid to ask your customers what they want as well! They may be able to provide valuable insight into what they like (and don’t like) about your products or services. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • If you can afford it you can also hire a consultant if you want professional customer research. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

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  • ↑ https://www.lightercapital.com/blog/what-is-consumer-research-why-is-it-important/
  • ↑ https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/217388
  • ↑ https://smallbusiness.chron.com/methods-conducting-consumer-research-3278.html
  • ↑ Janet Peischel. Digital Media Expert. Expert Interview. 30 March 2021.
  • ↑ https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/241080
  • ↑ https://www.livechat.com/success/types-of-customers/

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What is Customer Satisfaction Research? Definition, Importance and Process

By Nick Jain

Published on: September 8, 2023

What is Customer Satisfaction Research?

Table of Contents

What is Customer Satisfaction Research?

Importance of customer satisfaction research, process of customer satisfaction research.

Customer Satisfaction Research is defined as a systematic process of collecting, analyzing, and interpreting feedback and data from customers to assess their level of satisfaction with a product, service, or overall experience provided by a company. This research aims to measure and understand customers’ perceptions, expectations, and sentiments regarding their interactions with a business. The primary goal of customer satisfaction research is to identify areas where a company can improve its offerings and customer service to enhance customer loyalty, retention, and overall business success.

Key components of customer satisfaction research include:

  • Data Collection: Gathering feedback and data from customers can be done through various methods, including surveys, interviews, focus groups , online reviews analysis, and social media monitoring. The choice of data collection method depends on the research objectives and the nature of the business.
  • Measurement: Customer satisfaction is typically measured on a scale, often ranging from highly satisfied to highly dissatisfied. Common scales include Likert scales (e.g., 1 to 5 or 1 to 7), Net Promoter Score (NPS), or a simple yes/no response to a satisfaction question.
  • Analysis: After collecting data, researchers analyze it to identify trends, patterns, and correlations. This analysis helps in understanding the factors that influence customer satisfaction, as well as areas where improvements are needed.
  • Action Planning: Based on the insights gained from the research, businesses develop action plans to address areas of dissatisfaction or improvement. These plans may involve changes to products, services, customer support, or other aspects of the customer experience.
  • Continuous Monitoring: Customer satisfaction research is an ongoing process. Companies regularly collect and analyze customer feedback to ensure that improvements are effective and that satisfaction levels are consistently high.

Customer satisfaction research serves several essential purposes for businesses:

  • Identifying Weaknesses: It helps businesses pinpoint specific areas or touchpoints where customers are dissatisfied, allowing for targeted improvements.
  • Enhancing Customer Loyalty: Satisfied customers are more likely to remain loyal and continue doing business with a company. Research helps in understanding what drives customer loyalty.
  • Reputation Management: Positive customer experiences can lead to positive word-of-mouth, while negative experiences can harm a company’s reputation. Research helps in managing and improving brand perception.
  • Competitive Advantage: Businesses can use customer satisfaction research to outperform competitors by providing superior products and services that align with customer expectations.
  • Innovation: Customer feedback often contains valuable ideas for innovation and product development, which can drive growth and market differentiation.

Customer satisfaction research is a systematic approach to understanding and improving customer experiences. It plays a crucial role in helping businesses meet customer expectations, enhance loyalty, and ultimately achieve long-term success in a competitive market.

Importance of Customer Satisfaction Research

The importance of customer satisfaction research cannot be overstated in today’s business environment. It serves as a vital tool for companies to understand, measure, and enhance their customers’ contentment and overall experience. Here are some key reasons why customer satisfaction research is of utmost importance:

1. Customer Retention: Satisfied customers are more likely to remain loyal and continue doing business with a company. Customer satisfaction research helps in identifying areas where improvements are needed to retain existing customers, reducing churn rates, and preserving valuable revenue streams.

2. Repeat Business: Happy customers are more likely to make repeat purchases and engage in ongoing business relationships. Understanding what satisfies your customers can lead to increased sales and higher customer lifetime value.

3. Positive Word-of-Mouth: Satisfied customers often become brand advocates. They are more likely to recommend your products or services to others, leading to positive word-of-mouth marketing. This organic promotion can attract new customers at a reduced acquisition cost.

4. Enhanced Brand Reputation: High levels of customer satisfaction contribute to a positive brand reputation. When customers consistently have positive experiences with your business, your brand becomes associated with quality, reliability, and trustworthiness.

5. Competitive Advantage: In a competitive marketplace, delivering exceptional customer experiences can set your business apart from rivals. Customer satisfaction research helps you identify areas where you can outperform your competition and gain a competitive edge.

6. Reduced Customer Service Costs: By addressing common pain points and improving customer satisfaction, you can reduce the number of support inquiries and complaints. This can lead to lower customer service costs and improved operational efficiency.

7. Innovation and Product Development: Customer feedback collected through research often contains valuable insights and ideas for innovation and product development. Understanding customer needs and preferences can guide the creation of new offerings that align with market demands.

8. Data-Driven Decision Making: Customer satisfaction research provides data and metrics that can guide strategic decision-making. It allows businesses to make informed choices about product improvements, marketing strategies, and resource allocation.

9. Risk Mitigation: Identifying and addressing customer dissatisfaction early can help mitigate the risk of negative public relations incidents, customer defection, or legal issues resulting from customer complaints.

10. Employee Engagement: Satisfied customers often coincide with engaged and motivated employees. Employees who see the positive impact of their work on customer satisfaction are more likely to be enthusiastic and committed to their roles.

11. Long-Term Business Sustainability: Maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction contributes to the long-term sustainability and growth of a business. It helps create a stable customer base that provides ongoing revenue.

12. Customer-Centric Culture: Customer satisfaction research fosters a customer-centric culture within a company, where employees are encouraged to prioritize customer needs and continuously seek ways to improve the customer experience.

Customer satisfaction research is a powerful tool for businesses to gauge customer sentiment, identify areas for improvement, and ultimately enhance customer loyalty and profitability. In an era where customer expectations are continually evolving, understanding and meeting those expectations is essential for long-term success. By actively investing in customer satisfaction research, businesses can adapt and thrive in an ever-changing marketplace.

Learn more: What is Customer Research?

The process of conducting customer satisfaction research involves several key steps to gather, analyze, and act upon feedback and data from customers. Here is a step-by-step guide to conducting customer satisfaction research:

1. Define Research Objectives

Clearly define the goals and objectives of your customer satisfaction research. What specific aspects of customer satisfaction do you want to measure or improve? Are you focused on overall satisfaction, product satisfaction, service satisfaction, or a combination of these?

2. Select Research Methods

Choose the appropriate research methods that align with your objectives. Common methods include surveys, interviews, focus groups , online reviews analysis, social media monitoring, and feedback forms. Consider the advantages and limitations of each method and select the one(s) that best suit your needs.

3. Identify Your Target Audience

Define your target audience or customer segment for the research. Ensure that your sample group is representative of your customer base to obtain accurate insights.

4. Create Research Instruments

Develop the research instruments, such as survey questionnaires, interview scripts, or discussion guides. Make certain that your queries are precise, impartial, and closely linked to your research goals.

5. Data Collection

Implement your chosen research methods to collect data from customers. This may involve distributing surveys, conducting interviews or focus groups , monitoring online reviews and social media mentions, or providing feedback forms at various touchpoints.

6. Analyze Data

Once data is collected, analyze it systematically. Look for trends, patterns, and correlations in the responses. Use statistical analysis techniques to draw meaningful insights from the data.

7. Interpret Findings

Analyze the discoveries within the framework of your research objectives. What do the data and insights reveal about customer satisfaction levels and the factors influencing them? Recognize the strengths and shortcomings in your offerings.

8. Segmentation

Segment your data based on various criteria (e.g., demographics, purchase history, customer loyalty) to uncover specific trends within different customer groups. This allows for more targeted action plans.

9. Benchmarking

Compare your customer satisfaction metrics to industry benchmarks or your own historical data to gauge your performance relative to others or your past performance.

10. Action Planning

Develop actionable strategies and plans based on the insights gained from the research . Pinpoint precise areas requiring enhancement and establish their priority. Develop a plan for addressing these concerns.

11. Implementation

Put your action plans into practice. Implement changes, whether they involve product improvements, service enhancements, or process optimizations. Ensure that relevant teams are aligned and committed to executing these changes.

12. Monitoring and Feedback Loop

Continuously monitor the impact of your improvements. Collect ongoing customer feedback through surveys or other channels to assess whether the changes are positively affecting customer satisfaction.

13. Communication

Share the results of your customer satisfaction research with key stakeholders within your organization. Transparency and collaboration are essential for garnering support and resources for improvement initiatives.

14. Iterate and Repeat

Customer satisfaction research should be an ongoing process. Regularly repeat the research to track changes in customer sentiment and satisfaction levels. Use the feedback loop to iterate and refine your strategies.

15. Celebrate Success

Acknowledge and celebrate successes and improvements in customer satisfaction. Recognize the efforts of teams involved in the process to maintain motivation and commitment to ongoing improvement.

By following these steps in the customer satisfaction research process, businesses can continuously enhance the customer experience, improve customer loyalty, and ultimately achieve long-term success in the marketplace.

Learn more: What is Customer Feedback Analysis?

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Home » What Is Customer Research? Definition and Process

What Is Customer Research? Definition and Process

August 1, 2023 max 5min read.

Customer Research

This article contains,

What Is Customer Research?

Benefits of customer research, types of customer research, how to do customer research.

Customer Research Definition: Customer research systematically gathers and analyzes customer data to gain insights into their needs, preferences, behaviors, and opinions. It involves various research methods, such as surveys, interviews, focus groups, and data analysis, to understand customers better and make informed business decisions.

By conducting customer research, businesses can identify market trends, uncover pain points , and discover opportunities to effectively tailor their products, services, and marketing strategies to meet customer demands. Customer research is vital in developing customer-centric solutions, enhancing customer satisfaction, and ultimately driving business success.

Now that we know that Customer research is the process of gathering and analyzing information about customers to understand their needs, wants, and behaviors. This information can be used to improve products and services, develop marketing campaigns, and make better business decisions.

Customer research can provide several benefits for businesses, including:

  • Improved product and service design: By understanding the needs and wants of customers, businesses can design products and services that are more likely to meet those needs. This can lead to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • More effective marketing campaigns: By understanding the target market, businesses can develop campaigns more likely to reach and persuade potential customers. This can lead to increased sales and revenue.
  • Better business decisions: By understanding the competitive landscape, businesses can make better decisions about product development, pricing, and distribution. This can help businesses to stay ahead of the competition.
  • Reduced risk: Customer research can help businesses reduce the risk of launching products or services that are not well-received by customers.
  • Increased innovation: Customer research can help businesses to identify new opportunities for innovation by understanding the needs and wants of customers.
  • A better understanding of the competitive landscape: Customer research can help businesses better to understand their competitors and their strengths and weaknesses. This can help companies to develop strategies to compete more effectively.

Overall, customer research is a valuable tool that can help businesses to improve their products and services, develop more effective marketing campaigns, make better business decisions, and reduce risk.

Understanding your customers is crucial for business success. Explore various types of customer research that provide valuable insights into customer preferences, behaviors, and needs.

  • Surveys: Utilize structured questionnaires to gather quantitative data on customer opinions, satisfaction levels, and preferences. Surveys are scalable and efficient for reaching a broad audience.
  • Interviews: Conduct one-on-one or group interviews to gain in-depth qualitative insights into customers’ experiences, motivations, and pain points. Interviews allow for detailed exploration and clarification of responses.
  • Focus Groups: Bring a small group of customers to engage in interactive discussions on specific topics or products. Focus groups offer valuable feedback and real-time reactions.
  • Observational Studies: Observe and record customer behaviors in real-life settings to understand how they interact with products or services. Observational studies provide valuable insights into actual usage patterns.
  • Customer Feedback and Reviews: Analyze customer feedback, comments, and online reviews to identify common trends and sentiments. This type of research offers direct insights into customer satisfaction.
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): Measure customer loyalty and willingness to recommend your brand using NPS surveys. This standardized metric helps assess overall customer sentiment.
  • Online Analytics: Analyze website and app data, including click-through rates, conversion rates, and browsing behavior. Online analytics offer insights into customer interactions with digital platforms.
  • Social Media Listening: Monitor social media platforms to understand customer conversations and sentiments about your brand. Social media listening helps identify emerging trends and brand perceptions.
  • Customer Journey Mapping: Visualize the customer’s end-to-end experience with your brand to identify pain points and areas for improvement. Customer journey mapping helps enhance the overall customer experience.
  • A/B Testing: Conduct controlled experiments to compare two different product or marketing campaign versions. A/B testing helps optimize offerings based on customer preferences.

By employing these diverse customer research methods, businesses gain a comprehensive understanding of their customers, enabling them to tailor products, services, and marketing strategies to meet customer needs effectively and build long-lasting customer relationships.

Customer research can be daunting, but it is essential for businesses that want to succeed. By following these steps, companies can conduct customer research that is effective and informative.

There are many different ways to conduct customer research. The best method for a particular business will depend on the specific goals of the study. However, there are some general steps that all companies should follow when conducting customer research.

Step 1: Define your goals.

What do you hope to achieve with your customer research? Do you want to improve your product? Develop a new marketing campaign? Understand your target market? Once you know your goals, you can tailor your research accordingly.

Step 2: Choose your methods.

Many customer research methods exist, including surveys, interviews, focus groups, and usability testing. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, so you will need to choose the ones that are most appropriate for your goals.

Step 3: Collect your data.

Once you have chosen your methods, you must collect your data. This may involve sending surveys, conducting interviews, or hosting focus groups. Collecting data from a representative sample of your target market is essential.

Step 4: Analyze your data.

Once you have collected your data, you will need to analyze it. This may involve using statistical software or simply looking at the data and drawing conclusions. It is essential to be objective when analyzing your data.

Step 5: Take action.

The final step is to take action based on your findings. This may involve changing your product, developing a new marketing campaign, or understanding your target market better. It is essential to use your results to improve your business.

By following these steps, businesses can conduct customer research that is effective and informative. Customer research is an essential tool for businesses that want to succeed. Companies can make better decisions to increase profits and customer satisfaction by understanding their customers.

More Like This :-

  • What Is Product Testing? Definition, Types, and Websites
  • What Are Strategic Goals? Definition and Examples
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An example of customer research is conducting interviews with customers to understand their pain points and preferences regarding a new mobile app, helping improve its usability and features.

The methods of customer research include surveys, interviews, focus groups, observational studies, customer feedback analysis, online analytics, social media listening, customer journey mapping, NPS surveys, and A/B testing. Each method provides unique insights into customer behavior and helps businesses make informed decisions.

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How Customer Success Can Supercharge Your Revenue Here's how focusing on customer success can drive revenue and boost your bottom line.

By Paul Sullivan • Jan 10, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • The importance of customer success

Strategies for driving revenue through customer success

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Today's business environment is tough — as such, customer success has become a crucial aspect of generating revenue. It's no longer enough to simply acquire new customers; retaining and expanding existing customers is equally important for sustainable growth.

In this article, we'll explore how customer success can drive revenue and provide strategies for maximizing its impact on your bottom line.

Related: The How-To: Delivering Great Customer Service

Understanding customer success

Before we dive into how customer success can propel revenue forward, let's first define what it is. Customer success is the process of ensuring that your customers achieve their desired outcomes while using your product or service.

It involves proactively engaging with customers, understanding their needs and providing them with the resources and support they need to be successful, which in turn increases customer loyalty.

The importance of retention revenue

One of the key ways that customer success management can stimulate growth is through customer retention. Retention revenue refers to the revenue generated from existing customers who continue to use your product or service. We all know that net new customer acquisition costs more, yet so many companies insist on following this playbook. However, today's investors are paying closer attention to retention rates and churn rates than ever before.

According to research by Bain & Company , increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can increase profits by 25% to 95%. This is because loyal customers are more likely to make repeat purchases and are also more likely to refer others to your business.

By focusing on customer success and ensuring that your customers are achieving their desired outcomes, you can increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, leading to higher retention rates and, ultimately, more revenue. There is no more compelling reason to introduce a solid customer success strategy.

The power of expansion revenue

Another growth strategy is through expansion revenue. This refers to the additional revenue generated from existing customer relationships through upselling, cross-selling and renewals.

By proactively engaging with customers and understanding their needs, you can identify opportunities for upselling and cross-selling . This not only increases revenue but also strengthens the relationship with your customers by providing them with additional value, so bake this into your customer onboarding processes.

The key here is ensuring your customer success team is a part of the revenue team, aligning it with sales (and also marketing) and making it responsible for part of the financial targets. Not only does this spread your revenue risk, but you're also putting the customer experience front and center. No one wants to be chased by a salesperson they haven't spoken to in a year for a renewal — a sale is far more likely to convert if driven by a trusted advisor who's built a relationship with the account. According to Forrester research, trust is the most important brand attribute for buyers — so lean into it.

Related: 3 Pillars of Client Retention Every Brand Needs to Implement

Proactive engagement and personalization

Proactively engaging with customers and providing personalized support is crucial for growth via customer success. By regularly checking in with your customers and understanding how their business needs may be shifting (aka really knowing them), you can identify opportunities for that all-important upselling and cross-selling. The best companies, however, will plan this as part of the customer lifecycle and lifetime value. It can be usage-driven for SAAS companies and service-driven for business services; wherever an opportunity is available, you should have a natural progression plan.

Additionally, personalized support can help customers achieve their desired outcomes, leading to higher satisfaction and retention rates. This can be achieved through personalized onboarding, regular check-ins and tailored resources and support.

So much of content marketing is focused on bringing new customers on board, that existing ones often get overlooked. That playbook is dead. It costs more and doesn't have great ROI — it's time to flip the script. This is why customer success and marketing teams must work together to build more long-term client relationships and achieve negative churn.

Utilizing customer data

Data and the resulting insights are another powerful tool. By analyzing customer data, you can identify patterns and trends that can help you better understand your customers' needs and behaviors. For example, by tracking customer usage data, you can identify which features are most popular and which are underutilized. This can help you tailor your upselling and cross-selling efforts to offer customers the features they need and are most likely to purchase. It will help you identify what features, additional products or services to develop based on the most desired outcomes of your customers.

It can also help with churn. We recently implemented a Net Promoter Score process for a client who'd never done one before. When low scores came in from several customers, it was a wake-up call for the team, who had thought everything was ticking along just fine. This allowed them to react, drill into the issues and save the accounts.

With metrics and insights in place, you become proactive instead of reactive by keeping a regular pulse on your customers. Note: You should implement a 360-view of them across one CRM to facilitate this and achieve the best results.

Collaboration between customer success and sales teams

As highlighted above, collaboration between customer success and sales teams is crucial for driving revenue growth and a seamless customer experience . For example, the former can provide sales teams with insights into customer must-haves and behaviors, helping them tailor their pitches.

According to Gartner, 43% of vendor-related regret happens at the handoff between sales and implementation. Why? Many teams still work in silos, and as such, there tends to be a gap in communication and handover — allowing for buyer remorse and worry about big-ticket investment. By working cross-functionally, you can nip this in the bud and ensure a smooth transition.

Leveraging technology

Technology can play a significant role here as well. For example, a customer success platform can track usage data and trigger automated emails or notifications when a customer reaches a certain usage threshold, indicating an opportunity for upselling. You can also build automated workflows within your CRM, ensuring those valuable check-ins and customer satisfaction surveys aren't missed — achieving a level of personalization at scale.

Related: How to Measure Your Customers' Happiness Score (and Why That Matters)

Times are tougher than ever, and buyers are in the driving seat. Therefore, customer success is even more crucial for nailing those sales targets. You can win bigger and maximize this team's impact on your bottom line if you, 1) tear down those team silos and start working together and 2) be proactive instead of reactive by using technology, data insights and good old-fashioned relationship building .

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Home / Design / Customer Research: What Does It Affect?

  • July 5, 2023

Customer Research: What Does It Affect?

Dyachenko Anastasia

The reason is simple: the product didn’t satisfy the customer’s needs. The consequences are obvious. This may happen if a project team neglects the customer research process and doesn’t pay too much attention to its importance. Are you surprised? Let’s clarify it together step by step. 

What Is Customer Research?

Customer research is a complex process of collecting data regarding customers’ preferences, wishes, and pains. The research is usually done on consumers’ preferences, attitudes, loyalty, usage, and behavior in a market.

Understanding your customers and their needs is a crucial aspect of any successful business, whether it is custom healthcare software development or enterprise system creation. Customer research is one of the key methods used to gather information about your target audience. From improving client satisfaction and loyalty to identifying new opportunities for growth, it can provide invaluable insights that can help you make more informed decisions and drive your business forward.

In essence, the process of consumer research involves gathering data and gaining knowledge about clients to help businesses enhance their services and adapt their proposals to fast-changing customers’ preferences. And it does not matter if you are working in the healthcare industry or fintech; conducting at least basic customer research is a standard practice for businesses to gain new insights. This valuable information can be used to refine products, develop an effective marketing strategy, or even redesign web platforms to make them more user-friendly and engaging.

In most cases, basic customer research aims to address two critical questions:

  • Who are the perfect customers for our products, and who may not be a good fit (especially relevant for fintech or healthcare software )?
  • What channels can be utilized to reach and communicate with the target audience?

Such research is also an essential part of risk management and preliminary analytics. For example, in the same custom healthcare software development , it is extremally important to know the specific needs of the users and to anticipate their changing preferences.

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What Does Customer Research Solve?

Firstly, it helps to identify potential new customers and assists in understanding various behaviors, and motivators to meet customer expectations. Secondly, customer research simplifies the process of setting realistic targets for the project. Thirdly, understanding how customers will use the project identifies upsell opportunities. 

It is easy to make more informed decisions regarding the pricing, distribution channels, and marketing mediums, or to identify opportunities to introduce a new product or service. Customer research helps in understanding customers so that the variable projects can be designed accordingly.

The best way to prove its necessity is to present real-life examples. We chose 4 specific cases in 4 well-known companies as Lego, Apple, Google, and Uber that are worth observing.

We also recommend you learn how to get fair customer feedback . 

Main Types of Customer Research

There are many types of research and methods that can be applied. It all depends on the industry (obviously, the healthcare software development team will use different analytics methods than e-commerce developers), company goals, target audience, etc. Let’s take a closer look at the most common and versatile options.

Primary research

This involves collecting data yourself through various means, including

  • face-to-face interviews;
  • Surveys based on specific parameters such as industry (banking, financial, entertainment, healthcare industry , etc.), gender, age, income, etc.;
  • social media interactions.

Secondary research

Secondary research involves using data collected by others. These can be

  • online databases (especially relevant for mobile app development );
  • forums or communities;
  • industry reports (very important for trading, fintech, and healthcare software development services ).

Research types based on data

There is also another classification for primary and secondary research. It is created based on the type of data collected.

The first option is qualitative data. This type of data is subjective and can be interpreted. It includes descriptions of attributes (e.g., blue jeans or long hair).

The second option is quantitative data. This type of data is more objective, and it can be measured. For example, you can measure or count length, cost, weight, etc.

You can use both types of data in different areas, including custom healthcare software development or building versatile solutions for enterprises.

Different Methods for Consumer Research

Now that you are familiar with the most common types of customer research, let’s explore various methods you can use to gather insights and make informed decisions. Again, the choice of a particular method for healthcare software development and EHR product , for example, would be very different. 

This is all about asking people a series of questions regarding a particular subject or concept (in custom healthcare software development, you make a list of pains and concerns regarding using clients’ portals, and so on). Surveys can be conducted in person, via emails, or through online forms. It provides some critical benefits for marketing and promotion strategy planning. You can quickly gather large amounts of data without high costs. And the info collected is easy to analyze.

Pay attention that only clear and concise questions can yield reliable information. So you have to adapt your list of questions to business needs and requirements. This is especially important for healthcare software . An online survey tool like Google Forms can help you gather needed data by providing a ready-to-use template and a link to share with customers.

Here, you have to analyze your customers’ actions and behaviors within your product. Analytics dashboards give you an overview of what your clients do and how they interact with your software or services. 

Let’s take as an example the same healthcare software . In this case, you can collect data on how quickly users leave the client portal , which sections they visit most often, which pages they are interested in, etc. This is very valuable data for healthcare software development , especially if it is processed and visualized correctly.

While customer-reported behavior can be helpful, actual behavior can differ. Therefore, tracking and observing customer behavior using heatmaps, scroll mapping, and user-recorded sessions are essential not only for healthcare software but for any product and any industry.

Focus groups and interviews

Interviews provide you with the opportunity to speak directly to your customers and ask open-ended questions, which is very helpful for any industry, but for healthcare software , especially. This method allows for in-depth, one-on-one conversations and exploring topics thoroughly. And whether it is fintech or the healthcare industry , you can take the most from talking with real consumers.

The crucial point here is to have an experienced interviewer who can conduct the interviews lightly and properly to gather valuable insights. In some cases (like with healthcare software ), interviewees can deal with sensitive and not uncomfortable questions, so you need professionals for this. You can conduct interviews in person or via video conferencing tools like Google Meet or Zoom.

Working with focus groups is also an excellent opportunity to get valuable insights. This method is old and very helpful; it gives high results in e-commerce, education, fintech, and healthcare software development .

Here you can bring together a small group of people based on certain criteria and ask them about a particular topic (healthcare software , for example, or new branding). A moderator facilitates the conversation, and meaningful insights can be drawn from the group’s discussions. This method is useful for gaining a deeper understanding of a specific or narrow subject. For example, in healthcare software development , you can gather insights into how clients feel about new registration features.

Competitive Analysis

Competitive analysis is a method used by businesses to understand their competitors’ strategies and tactics. It helps to know how they can use their strengths to improve their products or services. You can use it in healthcare software development , UI and UX design for e-commerce products, etc.

There are different approaches to conducting a competitive analysis, but they all involve gathering information about competitors and analyzing and interpreting that information to gain insights. This can include analyzing the target audience, product features, pricing, and customer reviews, among other things. For example, in the case of healthcare software, you have to understand how your competitors promote even the less popular services.

The purpose of a competitive analysis is to identify your strengths and weaknesses relative to your competition and clarify opportunities for growth and improvement. By understanding how your competitors are positioning themselves in the market, you can better differentiate your own products or services and create an unconditional advantage. Again, in healthcare software , you can offer new technology for diagnoses, and you can win this race because your competitors don’t have it.

It’s important to note that competitive analysis is an ongoing process, as the market and your competitors’ strategies can change over time. Therefore, it’s essential to stay up-to-date with industry trends (especially in fields like IoT, healthcare software development , and fintech) and keep a close eye on your competitors to ensure that your business is constantly adapting and improving.

Incorporating one or more of these methods into your consumer research strategy can provide valuable insights to help grow your business. And it doesn’t matter if you’re working with healthcare software or neo banking – data is an integral part of risk management and success.

Uber Experience in Customer Research

When the Uber team decided to launch a project in India and Brazil, the main research tool was direct communication with customers. The results got the team to make some unexpected but customer-centered decisions.

Most of the customers in India and Brazil had old smartphones, so it was impossible for them to pay for the service by credit card because the application image of a credit card didn’t load properly due to its high resolution.

The best way to fix it was to make an Uber lite app that weighs up to 5MB and works very quickly. Thanks to this research, the Uber team measured the benefits either of adapting their app to old phone models or simplifying the order and payment process. 

Lego Experience in Customer Research  

In the customer study done by The Lego group, it was reported that only 9% of the primary toy users were female. To extend the target audience, the company decided to produce a new product to involve more girls in playing with Legos.

How did they do that? By conducting a four-year study of customer research that involved 3,500 girls and their mothers. The research included studying the girls’ playing habits and extensive surveys about the most interesting features for girls in Lego.

As a result, Lego came out with a new line of toys on January 1st, 2012. This line was called “Friends”. The changes covered brick colors (more vibrant ones were added), the packaging and the general look of figurines. Additional accessories such as hairbrushes and purses were added as well. 

Apple Experience in Customer Research

Customer research by Apple was aimed to figure out how to make customers’ desires a reality. To reach this goal, the marketing team at Apple created the “Apple Customer Pulse” online survey platform.

After a successful launch, the company was able to compile and analyze the data faster, and the surveys were easy to administer, without much effort. Such an innovative approach made the market research more appealing to participants, as well as to the company.

These surveys have resulted in different modifications to Apple products. Such modifications include the increase of screen resolution that allows watching videos and games with better quality. 

Google Nest Experience in Customer Research

For customer research, Google Nest uses Google Consumer Surveys. Mostly, surveys include questions about the functionality of current products and jobs to be done to improve them.

The surveys create opportunities for Nest (a wireless kit for creating a smart home security system that is stuck on the walls or ceiling) to quickly gain information from thousands of people concerning their needs and wishes.

Some surveys may include such a tricky question as “How high is your ceiling?” that rounds out the information about how large a certain appliance should be. By incorporating the feedback, Nest is able to improve the products and, in turn, increase their sales.

Why Customer Research Is Important for Project Team Members?

As all team members are involved in the customer research process, there are more chances to create embarrassment about the project and empathy for its users.

Also, customer research improves internal team communication which leads to a better understanding of the product’s essence and its distribution. Consequently, it lets us make a solid content marketing strategy that aligns with modern trends of customer needs. 

It is important to conduct a research process in the following way to achieve the proper results:

team members conduct user interviews, take notes properly, and listen to customer feedback attentively;

the team analyses the raw data from research on the workshop session;

team members continue the research and project development process. 

We are sure that a full team engagement makes every stage of customer research simple. Moreover, all team members understand each other, and share various ideas to make the product better. Joint customer research has a wonderful effect on team coordination. 

What Does Customer Research Affect?

Customer research helps to get feedback to measure satisfaction, perform market research, and gauge expectations. No doubt that customer research assists in creating a shorter development time with a clear vision of what you are trying to build. Secondly, it allows for avoiding costly fixes of development problems later.

Customer research also enables different teams to work collaboratively, ensuring a cohesive user experience across the entire product/service. Done well research makes the project a high-quality customer-centered product that really solves the relevant problems that people have. 

We believe that a full engagement with your customers makes every stage of the customer journey simple and saves huge amounts of money. Customer research is a helpful approach used by outstanding organizations to evolve their products and release features that people will definitely like. 

In addition to this, customer research expands the knowledge in the specific methodology such as JTBD (Jobs to be Done) and Customer Value Proposition.   The usage of these tools may create a shared understanding of the user’s needs, and make the work towards the same goal easier and more interactive. 

Our experience in customer research proved the theory that the methods of research are variable. For some projects, we applied a direct interaction with customers, competitive analysis, for others — comparison tables of prices, services, etc.

The main point is that we personalize each research for each project. There is no instruction for ideal customer research, each attempt is unique. Our team will be glad to conduct in-depth customer research for your project and provide you with upscale service. Don’t hesitate to contact us! 

See also our guide on how to create an Uber-like app for lawn care business, here:  lawn mower on-demand application development guide .

Frequently Asked Questions

The Healthcare industry is known for complex processes explained by the high level of responsibility.

The cost of medical app development depends on several factors like your needs, set of features, technology stack, and so on. Though our business analytics make sure to not spend an unnecessary penny.

To make a mobile app screen, you need to create a user flow diagram for each screen, draw wireframes, select design templates, and colors, create layouts, and create an animated prototype.

We usually take our clients through the following steps:

  • Planning and Research; 
  • Prototyping;
  • Development;
  • Maintenance.

You will participate in every stage of the development process and get regular updates.

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The  Sixth Edition  has been fully revised to reflect the 7th edition of the P ublication Manual of the American Psychological Association  with more inclusive language, updated citation styles, and updated writing suggestions. Learning objectives are now included at the start of each chapter. To help readers better achieve these learning objectives, the authors have clarified and improved the writing exercises to help readers better achieve these learning objectives. The final three chapters detailing qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods now have a parallel structure so readers can better compare and contrast these approaches. Chapter 10 on mixed methods in particular has been restructured to reflect the latest developments in mixed methods and best practices. New research examples throughout help capture and demonstrate new trends in research.

  • ISBN-10 1071817949
  • ISBN-13 978-1071817940
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About the author.

John W. Creswell, PhD, is a professor of family medicine and senior research scientist at the Michigan Mixed Methods Program at the University of Michigan. He has authored numerous articles and 30 books on mixed methods research, qualitative research, and research design. While at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he held the Clifton Endowed Professor Chair, served as Director of the Mixed Methods Research Office, founded SAGE’s Journal of Mixed Methods Research , and was an adjunct professor of family medicine at the University of Michigan and a consultant to the Veterans Administration health services research center in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He was a Senior Fulbright Scholar to South Africa in 2008 and to Thailand in 2012. In 2011, he co-led a National Institute of Health working group on the “best practices of mixed methods research in the health sciences,” and in 2014 served as a visiting professor at Harvard’s School of Public Health. In 2014, he was the founding President of the Mixed Methods International Research Association. In 2015, he joined the staff of Family Medicine at the University of Michigan to Co-Direct the Michigan Mixed Methods Program. In 2016, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Pretoria, South Africa. In 2017, he co-authored the American Psychological Association “standards” on qualitative and mixed methods research. In 2018 his book on “Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design” (with Cheryl Poth) won the Textbook and Academic Author’s 2018 McGuffey Longevity Award in the United States. He currently makes his home in Ashiya, Japan and Honolulu, Hawaii.

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John W. Creswell is a Professor of Educational Psychology at Teachers College, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is affiliated with a graduate program in educational psychology that specializes in quantitative and qualitative methods in education. In this program, he specializes in qualitative and quantitative research designs and methods, multimethod research, and faculty and academic leadership issues in colleges and universities.

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As we kick off a new year, we’re thrilled to see people increasingly using and loving Microsoft Copilot for work and life. Our goal is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more by bringing Copilot, the everyday AI companion, to millions of people around the world. We have reached another milestone in this mission with more than 5 billion chats and more than 5 billion images to date. As Copilot continues to earn preference and usage, we’re receiving valuable feedback on how to improve. Two examples: First, there are a set of Copilot power users like creators, researchers, programmers and others who want more rapid access to the very latest we have to offer. And second, our Microsoft 365 customers want access to Copilot in the Microsoft 365 apps for personal use.

To help address those needs, today we’re delighted to announce more options for power users, creators and anyone looking to take their Copilot experience to the next level. This begins with the introduction of Copilot Pro, a new premium subscription for individuals that provides a higher tier of service for AI capabilities, brings Copilot AI capabilities to Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscribers, and new capabilities, such as the ability to create Copilot GPTs. We are also announcing the general availability of our Copilot app for iOS and Android phones. Finally, we’re excited to bring Copilot for Microsoft 365 to more commercial customers by expanding the availability to businesses of all sizes, including small- and medium-sized businesses, starting today.

Introducing Copilot Pro: Supercharge your creativity and productivity

Today we’re announcing the availability of Copilot Pro, a new subscription that delivers the most advanced features and capabilities of Microsoft Copilot to individuals looking to supercharge their Copilot experience. Whether you need advanced help with writing, coding, designing, researching or learning, Copilot Pro brings greater performance, productivity and creativity.

Copilot Pro provides:

  • A single AI experience that runs across your devices, understanding your context on the web, on your PC, across your apps and soon on your phone to bring the right skills to you when you need them.
  • Access to Copilot in Word, Excel [i] , PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote on PC, Mac and iPad for Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscribers.
  • Priority access to the very latest models – starting today with OpenAI’s GPT-4 Turbo. With Copilot Pro you’ll have access to GPT-4 Turbo during peak times for faster performance and, coming soon, the ability to toggle between models to optimize your experience how you choose.
  • Enhanced AI image creation with Image Creator from Designer (formerly Bing Image Creator) – ensuring it’s faster with 100 boosts per day while bringing you more detailed image quality as well as landscape image format.
  • The ability to build your own Copilot GPT – a customized Copilot tailored for a specific topic – in our new Copilot GPT Builder (coming soon) with just a simple set of prompts.

You can subscribe to Copilot Pro today for $20 per month/per user.

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Expanding Copilot for Microsoft 365 to businesses of all sizes

While Copilot Pro is our best experience for individuals, Copilot for Microsoft 365 is our best experience for organizations. Copilot for Microsoft 365 became generally available for enterprises in November. As we said earlier this year, 40% of the Fortune 100 participated in our Early Access Program, and since GA for enterprise, customers like Visa, BP, Honda, Pfizer, and partners like Accenture, KPMG and PwC are already using Copilot — which means thousands of people across industries and sectors have started working in new ways, with an AI-powered copilot at their side. Today we are excited to announce that Copilot for Microsoft 365 is now available for organizations of all sizes — with no seat minimum. We are also enabling our partners to help every business become AI-powered.

Today’s updates include:

  • Copilot for Microsoft 365 is now generally available for small businesses with Microsoft 365 Business Premium and Business Standard Customers can purchase between one and 299 seats for $30 per person per month.
  • We’re removing the 300-seat purchase minimum for commercial plans and making Copilot available for Office 365 E3 and E5 customers (A Microsoft 365 license was previously required).
  • Commercial customers can now purchase Copilot for Microsoft 365 through our amazing network of Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider partners .
  • Last month, we also announced eligibility of Copilot for Microsoft 365 for education faculty and staff.

Copilot for Microsoft 365 is even more powerful for organizations because it works across your entire universe of data at work — including emails, meetings, chats, documents and more, plus the web. With natural language prompts like “Tell my team how we updated the product strategy,” Copilot can generate a status update based on the morning’s meetings, emails and chat threads. Copilot is also integrated into the apps millions of people use every day, including Microsoft Teams (which is not available with Copilot Pro). Copilot jump-starts your creativity in Word, analyzes data in Excel, designs presentations in PowerPoint, triages your Outlook inbox, summarizes meetings in Teams – whether you attended or not – and so much more. Backed by enterprise-grade security, privacy, and compliance, and Microsoft’s Customer Copyright Commitment , we can’t wait to see how businesses of all sizes achieve more using AI. Learn more on the Microsoft 365 blog .

Copilot Mobile app screeshots

As we expand the availability of Copilot to even more people, we continue to offer a great free experience for anyone interested in exploring how Copilot can transform productivity and creativity using AI. Today we’re excited to share additional updates to Copilot. You can get started by visiting copilot.microsoft.com.

  • Copilot GPTs – Today we’re announcing Copilot GPTs. Copilot GPTs let you customize the behavior of Microsoft Copilot on a topic that is of particular interest to you.  A handful of Copilot GPTs will start to roll out beginning today with specific purposes such as fitness, travel, cooking and more. Soon, Copilot Pro users will also be able to create their own Copilot GPTs using Copilot GPT Builder. Stay tuned for more on this experience as we get closer to availability.
  • Copilot mobile app – The Copilot mobile app is now available for Android and iOS. The Copilot app gives you the power of Copilot on the go as your Copilot queries and chats will roam across your phone and PC. The Copilot mobile app includes the same capabilities of Copilot on your PC including access to GPT-4, Dall-E 3 for image creation, and the ability to use images from your phone when chatting with Copilot. Download the app from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store .
  • Copilot in the Microsoft 365 mobile app – We’re also adding Copilot to the Microsoft 365 mobile app for Android and iOS for individuals with a Microsoft account. This new feature is rolling out over the next month. Access Copilot right inside the app and easily export the content you create to a Word or PDF document. Download the app from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store .

With today’s announcements, we continue to bring Copilot to more customers with more options that work for them. Whether you’re looking to get started with Copilot for free, want to supercharge your Copilot experience with Copilot Pro or are an SMB or Enterprise customer looking to increase your productivity in new ways with Copilot for Microsoft 365, there’s a Copilot experience for everyone.

[i] Currently in preview, English only

Tags: AI , Copilot Pro , Microsoft 365 Copilot

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