Getting Customer Understanding Right Key To Mastering CX
Marketers must balance quantitative with qualitative methods to understand what makes customers tick, according to speakers at Forrester Research’s CXNYC 2016 event.
Marketers must balance quantitative with qualitative methods to understand what makes customers tick, according to speakers at Forrester Research’s CXNYC 2016 event, Tuesday in New York City.
According to Tony Costa, principal analyst at Forrester, established assumptions about people and their needs are outdated. “We’re seeing a movement away from identity based on social status and toward lifestyles,” he said. “Assumptions can become blind spots.”
The key to exposing those blind spots and staying relevant is to understand customers as individuals, not as segments or demographics, Costa said. “Know them as social beings,” he explained. “Conduct deep research on customers.”
Recent Forrester research shows that the research customer experience (CX) pros are conducting relies on very thin data sets. “[Professionals] are looking at narrow slithers of human existence, with no context on what this means for CX,” Costa said. He displayed the following chart:
With only 16% of CX pros conducting ethnographic field studies, there’s still a long way to go in mastering CX, Costa pointed out.
Costa talked about Adidas, which conducted ethnographic research to better understand women’s preferences for workout clothing. It found that women wanted to look and feel good in their outfits because they are working out in groups, such as with yoga. That insight prompted a partnership with fashion designer Stella McCartney, who designed a yoga clothing line that became a big success for the company.
Another good example, Costa pointed out, is John Deere, which wanted to gain a foothold in the Indian market but wasn’t having success. Through ethnographic research the tractor company found that its vehicles are used for basic transportation among Indian farmers and their families. John Deere’s problem was its tractors all had just a single seat. The company made the switch, and sales took off.
After Costa, Thom Kozik, vice president of loyalty at Marriott International, took the stage to talk about the ways in which ethnographic research has helped the hotelier reinvent loyalty.
“What we learned is that it is no longer about the traditional mindset of people’s loyalty to a brand,” Kozik said. “It’s about our loyalty to them, to the customers. We have to show loyalty and appreciation for them if we want to win market share.”
But it is very difficult to get a company such as Marriott—which is measured by Wall Street every month—to move to getting into that individual level of customer understanding, he added. “It’s a very different way of thinking about the customer,” Kozik said.
Once you nail identity, Kozik said, that level of understanding gets visceral. “No amount of behavioral data would have helped us to understand the customer to the level we understand them today,” he said.
Finally, Alex Wright, head of UX research at Etsy, took to the stage to discuss his role at the online marketplace. He joined Etsy three years ago with the task of building out a customer insights team; today his team weaves together UX, marketing, product, CX, and customer insights to inform every aspect of Etsy’s business, from interface design to strategy. According to Wright, the company has invested heavily in customer research, believing that knowing customers better will create empathy for the Etsy brand.
“Etsy really has a stong data mindset,” he said. “We’ve developed a robust A/B testing platform, and our continuous deployment environment forces accountability. We’re really focused on better understanding our buyers and sellers. We’re using our research for exploratory purposes, for identifying unmet needs, opportunities, and emotional peaks and valleys in the user journey.”
Also from CXNYC 2016: “Key To B2B CX Measurement: ‘Make Customers Feel Heard’”