Do you currently work for an organization that is a global entity?
Has your organization become somewhat of a household name in its market sector?
Has your organization seen massive expansion in the last decade from relatively meager beginnings?
If you’re fortunate enough to have answered ‘yes’ to one or more of the above, then there’s a good chance you’re working for an organization that places value on research – and perhaps most importantly – insight. If you’ve answered ‘no’, it’s possible that not investing enough in research may be the culprit.
Research is the bedrock of many hugely successful companies operating globally. In fact, the ability to perform research effectively and derive meaningful and deep insight is perhaps the difference between greatness and mediocrity in our competitive and increasingly tech-centric global market.
Of late, thanks to a relatively enormous Black Swan event, we’re now more reliant on technology to perform remote research programs. For some, this will perhaps be a short to medium term wrinkle before ‘normal’ service resumes. However, apart from the fact that none of us know when we can put our current challenges behind us for good, those with a growth mentality will be and have been using this as a watershed moment of opportunity to really ramp up their remote research capabilities both operationally and strategically.
Having been at the forefront of this remote research revolution for some time now, we at Medallia LivingLens know there are a number of companies out there that are thriving purely as a result of investing their time, expertise, and hard-earned cash into remote research fairly early to ensure that it is the rule and not the exception.
What’s more, for those that have truly succeeded, we’ve observed a number of key habits that each of these companies share – either related directly to their research programs or evolving as a result of their approach to remote research.
These habits serve as good practice that organizations of all sectors and sizes can adopt. We hope that the below observations will act as some food for thought and help you to think about your own organization’s approach to research.
1. Communication: Have a two-way dialogue with your audiences
Simon Sinek is an author and motivational speaker that is revered in the global business community. He once said:
“Great communicators don’t just hear the words. Great communicators hear the meaning behind the words.”
This sentence alone nicely sums up what many successful organizations actually strive to do in their own approaches to research. Data, feedback, and reviews are one thing when it comes to key audiences and customers. However, it’s simply not enough to ‘hear the words’, as Sinek puts it, we need to ‘hear the meaning behind them’ too. As a result, we may need something more than simple words on paper, or huge data sheets being strewn across boardrooms.
Remote research comes into its own in this sense. Firstly, not only can we put interviewees at ease from the comfort of their own homes, we can actually capture their responses from a multitude of data-driven and emotional viewpoints. The ability to capture body language and sentiment represent just two of these emotional metrics, with both having the power to bring the human element to pure data.
Using technology to conduct virtual research interviews one-on-one or one-to-a-group has become the norm of late. Thankfully, the technology to uncover useful and meaningful insight from those interviews exists, too.
Via video capture, researchers can analyze responses from a multitude of sources, including Zoom, and actually, get closer to what a customer feels and thinks about a product or service. In essence, researchers now have a window into the ‘whys’ behind the asks and the ‘needs’ behind the words. They can actually listen and reflect beyond what people are saying and can collect critical signals about both good and bad experiences.
2. Diversity: All insight is good insight
The companies we’ve worked with who’ve had the most success don’t rely solely on their highly engaged customers, brand ambassadors, and fans to draw insight from. In fact, they step out of their bubble and venture where some organizations fear to tread because they recognize the importance of diverse insight. You get a more accurate, full-picture view when you source insight from groups and individuals who’ve either had a negative experience with their product or service, dumped them from their supplier list, and/or have made the move to a competitive brand.
Successful organizations engage heavily with customers falling into a vast number of interest groups and with differing credentials. Some of these include:
Stepping out of your bubble of promoters means that you can uncover the blind spots in your own perceptions of your brand and face up to some hard truths. This particularly flies in the face of the types of post-rationalist behaviors which exist in some boardrooms when faced with data and research which is contrary to internal views and beliefs.
Again, a well-constructed research program, and the ability to pivot to virtual, has been the means via which successful organizations have been able to enter into dialogue with audiences all over the globe to elicit valuable insight. It’s startling to think of where we’d be without the technology to do this, particularly given current global challenges.
3. Efficiency: Protect brilliant minds from ‘operational noise’
Successful companies don’t waste the minds of brilliant researchers. In fact, they nurture them and give them the head space and tools they need to be even more brilliant.
Take the typical day of a researcher, and it’s easy to see why so much talent gets wasted in the maelstrom of operational noise. There are interview transcripts to type, interviews, and supporting materials to file, references to search, and taxonomy to grapple with. Unfortunately, these ‘operational’ tasks take up a lot of time and valuable headspace.
Successful companies focus their researchers’ time on the things that are fundamental to take the business forward—for instance: listening for nuggets of insight, analysis of interviews, and the synthesizing of analysis with reporting so that it can be shared successfully with stakeholders.
Organizations are starting to realize that remote research techniques and the technology that supports them, can actually give their researchers the space they need to take a more active and strategic role within their company.
4. Scalability: Optimize your research program
Insight and ideas have an infinite shelf life. As a result, great organizations manage this information and knowledge within their company effectively, right from the get-go. In stark contrast, average companies will try to reinvent the wheel every time when it comes to profiling their key audiences and markets. This wastes time and drains the great minds and resources of any company.
Knowledge management tools are a great way for companies to effectively ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’ and operationalize processes quickly whilst operating at scale. For example, researchers can use such tools to access historical insight quickly and equip their organization with the evidence on which to make pivotal decisions in competitive markets.
Tools of this type, coupled with a solid approach and strategy to remote research, can also support those processes which manage and organize audience interactions – particularly in making sure consents are respected, data is anonymized, and making interviewees feel comfortable with what they are participating in.
5. Storytelling: Make research speak
Remote research in particular goes beyond just data and allows companies to tap into video to give a voice and vitality to both their promoters and their detractors.
With the right technology, researchers are now able to tap into the tiny part of the human brain which loves to be told stories. In fact, storytelling is powerful and great companies use it to align business groups to a shared business goal. What’s exciting is that the use of video in remote research is set to play a bigger role in creating powerful, behavior-changing stories.
By finding valuable nuggets of spoken insight from the videos collected and splicing together a compelling story in the form of a showreel, researchers chart new waters and put themselves at the very forefront of every successful company’s ambition.
The true potential of remote research
Great companies are built with a great attitude towards the power of research and storytelling. Everything discussed above is well within the grasp of each and every researcher or organizational lead.
A tool to help you collect insights about your consumers is no longer a nice to have. In fact, when the research can be done remotely and at scale with the latest cutting-edge technology and systems, it truly has the power to shape the future of great companies and the great minds working within them.