Why Mobile Qualitative Research is Growing Strong

Mobile Qualitative Research or MQR, as it is known, is growing in popularity as a go-to market research tool because it’s finally realizing the promise of providing feedback while the customer is using the product.  MQR creates feedback in the real world and with the introduction of mobile software analysis tools, researchers can receive and analyze results in real time.

MQR Process

The process is simple and straight forward.  After recruiting participants, questions are sent to their mobile device over a period of days or weeks, allowing the participants to react and respond via that same device.

A researcher can assemble and view the results with an online dashboard.  They can input new questions to reengage any of the participants in real time, delving more deeply into a particular subject.  Imagine doing that with traditional or online surveys.

MQR Benefits:

  • Immediacy
  • Familiarity
  • Engagement

The primary advantage of Mobile Qualitative Research is the immediacy of feedback.  Since participants (and most of us) carry our phones during the day, when at work, out shopping or at a concert or sporting event, participants can text or send photos of their experience at the point of sale, or during the process of entering a crowded stadium.

This immediacy means that the information provided is more accurate because the respondents do not have to recall what they experienced at a later time when they are finally sitting down to go online.

There is no learning curve for MQR participants since they are simply texting or sending photos on mobile devices that they all ready own and are familiar with.  This ease of use helps increase the participation rate because of its simplicity and familiarity.

Higher engagement or non-static engagement with the participants is a big plus.  Since the information is submitted in real time, a live researcher will know that the data is input at the time the researched event is occurring.

Mobile Qualitative Research = Access

According to the Nielsen group over 265 million Americans have mobile phones, 98% of which are text capable.  By the end of 2010, according to the International Telecommunication Union, approximately 5 billion people worldwide had cell phones.

Mobile Qualitative Research allows researchers access to those people that either don’t have time to sit down at a computer or don’t have access to one.  Also, using MQR participants don’t have to be herded into a study room or assembled into panels, saving significant costs and time.

Creating a Customer Engagement Culture (Part 3)

This post, Creating a Customer Engagement Culture, is the last installment in the customer engagement trilogy.  In it, I examine the recommendations of the authors of the article, Creating an Engagement Culture, published in Chief Learning Officer Magazine.

“Improving employee and customer engagement is hard and there are few models to guide leaders on how to achieve it.” – Leimbach, Michael & Roth, Tim, (2011) Creating an Engagement Culture, Chief Learning Officer Magazine.

The primary lesson I took away from the article was that focusing solely on customer engagement strategies ignores your employees who, after all, are the people engaging your customers.  If your employees have not made an emotional choice to be loyal to your company they’re not as effective when engaging your customers.  According to the authors there are 5 areas leadership and their managers must strategically align to create a customer engagement culture: Opportunity, Personal Accountability, Validation, Inclusion and Community.

As the quote above says, creating a customer engagement culture isn’t easy.  It’s also not impossible.

5 Key Components to Creating a Customer Engagement Culture

  1. Opportunity – Focus on potential rather than on loss.  Focus on growth rather than survival.  Create an environment where employees feel they are engaged in a process that recognizes personal contribution as necessary for company success.
  2. Personal Accountability – Set, Communicate and Measure behavioral expectations that support company values.  This task is about aligning what you do (task specific) with how to behave while doing it (action specific). Achieving this objective may require manager communication training to reinforce, support and clarify expectations.
  3. Validation – Acknowledge and encourage everyday performance, not just the top performers.  When leadership validates its employee’s efforts they send a signal that employees matter.  It is the daily affirmation, a note, a kind word, or a gesture that says, “Hey, employee, you matter and we notice.” that makes employees feel personally supported and valued.
  4. Inclusion – Change is difficult but when Leadership engages employees in the change process they achieve buy in when change decisions are made inclusive. Imposing change from above creates resistance but effective dialogue resulting from leadership listening to employees, incorporating the best suggestions into the change process and regular, positive communication creates a sense of community and trust that flows upward from employees to leadership.
  5. Community – A term I often hear regarding business cultures is “silos”. Departmental, informational, operational and other silos of isolation contribute to “not my department” or “not my job” attitudes. Seeking a high engagement culture in your company means tearing down the silos and building community engagement halls where information, goals, success stories and failure challenges are shared and acknowledged; a place where collaboration is encouraged.

Stating the obvious, there is nothing said here about creating systems to encourage customer engagement as a cultural value.  Instead, the authors focus on what your company can do to align executive and management leadership around the values of an engaged culture.

I agree with the author’s that engagement is a choice made by your employees and customers.  It is not something that can be imposed.  They conclude that a culture of engagement is one where the conditions under which engagement can occur have been met, thereby providing your employees – and by extension your customers – an opportunity to choose to be fully engaged with your company.

I think most of us would agree that it’s not easy but it’s also not impossible.

Measuring Customer Engagement (Part 2)

In the first article of this series we discussed common characteristics of an engaged customer. In this article we’ll look at measuring customer engagement.

Measuring customer engagement is a process that begins with a clear objective followed by determining measurement metrics, then data gathering and of course, analysis and reporting.

Defining Engagement Measurement Goals

The goal is simple: Is what we are doing working?” Answering this question requires an examination of internal customer and financial data to profile the engagement characteristics of profitable, repeat (loyal) customers and compare them to customers that are less engaged.

Define the Metrics for Engagement

Examine the channels of customer involvement: POS, Website, Call centers, trials and demos etc. engaged customers utilize.  These channels, when measured, contain the data  points used for measuring customer engagement and present the frame work for establishing a measurement goal.   To minimize the complexity of the measurement and to reduce the cost in dollars and time, less is more.  It is better to closely examine several key metrics than to inundate the analysts with reams of data from every touch point or interaction.

Gather the Data

For many companies data gathering possesses challenges related to data ownership and data reporting channels.  The specialized software and tools used to gather web analytics, marketing campaign management and loyalty club data typically belong to Marketing, while call center, agent analytics, IVR analytics and contact center platforms belong to operations or IT.  Consolidating this data for cross analysis with financial data is a keystone for successfully measuring customer engagement.

Reporting

In the simplest sense, what to do with the information gleaned from a consolidated data analysis is straightforward: get the analysis into the hands of the decision makers.  But that is only half the reporting story.  The data must be fed back into the data pool for action by the various touch point channels in the form of recommended action so that, after implementation, the result of the action is compared with prior data to determine the efficacy of the change.  This process, repeating itself constantly, provides a substantial  customer engagement level and an engagement strategy success picture on an ongoing basis allowing for continuous adjustment to maximize return on the engagement strategy investment.

Whew!

Isn’t There a Single System or Process?

If measuring customer engagement seems a bit convoluted and anything but straight forward it’s because it is convoluted and anything but straightforward.

Some engagement metrics are extremely difficult to obtain and quantify.  On line data is much easier to capture than off line data.  It’s not easy to capture data that isn’t typically recorded; like time in store, number of items reviewed or compared on a shelf before a purchase decision, etc.  It is also difficult to correlate some data types to a specific customer.  Anonymous data such as that obtained from surveys, cash purchases or web site visits do little to enhance the customer engagement profile.

There is no single methodology or formula to plug into your business model to measure customer engagement. The complexity of measurement requires individualized, company wide programs tailored to fit the needs of your business.

*****

Knowing the profile of an engaged customer in your organization and having the ability to measure customer engagement are but two of the three legs required to successfully create fully engaged, loyal and repeat customers. The third leg is creating a customer engagement culture, bottom-to-top, top-to-bottom, so that your customers are effectively engaged at every stage of interaction with your company, before, during and after the sale, and the next sale and the next….

The final post in this discussion explores some prevalent methods for creating a culture well suited to customer engagement.

Establishing Deeper Connections with Customer Engagement

This article is the first in a three part series exploring the twin concepts of customer engagement and the engaged customer.  Some CEOs, especially in the SaaS arena describe an engaged customer and a non-engaged customer like describing the difference between a Van Gogh and overstock office art , “I don’t know much about art, but I do know what I like.”

What is an Engaged Customer?

An engaged customer is engaged by your company on two fronts: (i) before, up to, and including the point of sale and (ii) during the life cycle (use) of the product or service.  Recent research has shown that an engaged customer exhibits three specific traits that, if identified, promoted and supported within your organization, translates directly to a better bottom line.

Common Attributes of an Engaged Customer

Customer Loyalty

A hallmark of an engaged customer, loyalty is an essential trait for survivability in the current slower paced and more costly market place.  It costs less to maintain (for repeat business) a current customer than to identify, attract and convert a new one.  The slower pace refers to the lower rate of business transactions rather than the frenzied pace of product development.

Customer Interaction

Customer interaction refers to the customer’s relationship with your company.  Interactions occur on line and off line, before and after the sale.The type, quality and frequency of these interactions have a huge impact on maintaining an engaged customer.

Customer Feedback/Input

Providing a means for customers to provide feedback and input about your product or service creates a sense of involvement in the process of determining what the consumer wants.  If your average customer’s input has an identifiable impact on your product offering, they are more likely to buy the product or update once it is available.

The Point Is…

The methods of engagement vary but most commonly involve an interaction before there is a problem or complaint.  On line; product reviews, product ratings, surveys and live chat are recent customer engagement examples.  Check-in calls to customers, special events at retail outlets, unique purchasing opportunities and loyalty point programs are examples of off line engagement.

Regardless of the method, the goal of engagement is to create a deep connection with customers. Your customer’s involved relationship and emotional brand attachment are competitive advantages that are difficult for competitors to overcome.  This leads to the question, “How do you measure customer engagement?”  That is the topic of the 2nd article in this series.

Mobile isn’t Just for Data Acquisition Anymore

The evolution of mobile devices as a business tool has reached a point where they are powerful enough and ubiquitous enough to change how businesses make decisions.  Smartphones and tablets have made, time sensitive business data analysis available to executives and decisions makers with a speed, depth and access that was previously unheard of.  Now, it is not a matter of waiting for a report, it is simply a matter of swiping fingers across a screen.

In the marketing industry, mobile devices have been used for years to acquire product or consumer data in the locations where the products are used or the consumers congregate.  The acquired data is usually uploaded to a data warehouse and managed by an ERP system.  Analysts would then clean the data, drill down to the relevant information (based on the questions they are seeking answers for), create a report, summarize it and present it to an executive.  The executive uses the analysis to make a decision and then has the analyst or a clerk input the decision into the ERP or database.

Untethered Analysis

However, using the newest generation of mobile business analysis tools, the decision maker can pull up the data, drill down to the information required, make a decision and instantly input that decision into the ERP.  They no longer need to be in a board room or even at a desktop computer to obtain the analysis they require.

The speed at which the data and the analysis is available to the decision maker allows them to react to current and real world situations in which the data is critical to making a decision.  The cost of the traditional work flow, and the loss of time waiting on the creation of these reports is eliminated.

Will Analysts Have a Place in the Future?

The evolution toward just-in-time delivery of business data analysis does not spell the death knell for professional analysts.  Analysts of the future will still be responsible for setting the parameters of the business data analysis.  They will still determine how to provide the data in the clearest possible terms so that the executive, on his or her mobile device, can understand and act on what the data is telling them.

Executives and decision makers will still need to rely on the expertise and experience of the analyst to tell them what the analysis means.