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Customer Insights Made Easy

Uncovering things you might not know about your business.

Market research, and more importantly, customer insights are extremely helpful in understanding what your business does well and not so well, comparatively in the market. Whether you’re a café owner looking for other avenues for income or a construction company looking to find out why customers are choosing the bloke across the road, getting to know your customers and their motivations can be an integral part of uncovering why your customers like what they like, or do what they do. At the end of the day, the customers are what define a business!

Let’s take a step back and think about it for a second. Customers are just like you and me, a fellow homo sapien. Now, you and I like certain things, do things a certain way, crave particular food items now and then and so on. Now picture your typical customer (profile) and imagine what it would be like to buy from your own business, for example:

  • Was it done quickly?
  • Did I spend too much money for what I was getting?
  • Was the quality of the product/service any good?
  • Was the service up to scratch?
  • Did I offer enough (or too much) choice?

These are some of things that customers (also both you and I) objectively and subjectively use to judge whether or not we buy again from a business.

But wait, that’s too hard.

Honestly, it really can be daunting for a small business owner and it’s why we have devised a little cheat sheet on how you can get started without the hassle of not knowing what to do in the first place!

We firmly believe that you don’t need complicated statistical software and algorithms to get started, on, what is traditionally, a very academic field of work, market research. Just sit down and use this example guideline to start on your journey of self-discovery.

Matching expectations with reality.

When starting for the first time, we encourage businesses to brainstorm what are the key criteria that your business’ life depends on. These are the things, when done collectively poorly, ruin a business and likewise, when done collectively well, flourish. All businesses usually sit within this spectrum.

Here, we limit it to five criteria, so that there isn’t an overwhelming list our brains can’t handle. It also keeps our minds focused on what matters the most.

For example, the five criteria we can look at are:

  • On-time delivery
  • Value for money
  • Quality of products and/or services
  • Customer service
  • Range of products and/or services

While it’s not an exhaustive list, depending on the business, some criteria may be different. Say you’re a hairdresser and “on-time delivery” doesn’t apply, something else may be more relevant.

 

PRO TIP
Try and choose criteria that encompasses the entire business as a single unit to start, then you can branch off into examining other arms of the business once you’ve wrapped your head around the bigger picture.

 

Part 1 | Mapping customers’ expectations

Once you’re done thinking about what areas of the business are important to its survival, now is the time to ask your existing customers to rank them 1-5 by importance to them when dealing with you, where 5 is most important and 1 is least important.

Here, we’re looking to find out what your customers expect of you and determining what matters the most to them. For example, maybe a customer values your quality products (gave a score 5) but price isn’t what matters when buying from you (gave a score 2). There are countless insights you can gain from simply asking customers to rank the importance they place on certain aspects of your business.

Part 2 | A reality check

Using the same criteria you’ve decided on, ask follow-up questions on how you ACTUALLY perform in each of those areas. Customers will rate your performance on a scale 1-5, where 1 is poor, 3 is average and 5 is excellent.

This will give you a more definitive health check on your business and find out where customers are and aren’t satisfied with your business.

 

PRO TIP
Use what you’re good at (competitive advantage) to boost your existing sales and marketing efforts. If your customers use more than one supplier for the same product/service, chances are they are thinking about how you weigh up against the competition!

 

Part 3 | Recommendations anyone, please?

As the icing on the cake, one could say, is the Net Promoter Score® (NPS®). This is a simple yet effective metric you can use to see if customers will refer any business to the friends and colleagues (more business, YES!). There is formula on how to do it (you can Google it for those wondering) but we won’t get into that here (that’s for another post).

Putting all the pieces together

Now you can really see how you’re doing with your customers. Work out how each of your criteria stacked up against the other criteria and map that against how you’re really doing with customers in reality. This should help identify areas of improvement at a glance as well as understanding how your customers’ expectations (Part 1: what’s important to them) are met with their current dealings with you (Part 2: your performance, Part 3: NPS®).

 

PRO TIP
Use this tool as an early warning system to flag down any potential problem areas before there’s irreparable damage: your customers go elsewhere!

 

So, what now?

“So, what now?” I hear you think. We’ve got you covered.

Here are a few extra tips and tricks to make this process much more valuable to you:

  • Use the above criteria to get you started, chop and change if you feel it doesn’t apply to your business
  • You don’t need a large sample size, 10-15 is usually enough to get an idea of how you’re tracking
  • Preferably, talk to customers you have recently done business with, the more recent the better
  • Keep the survey to the three questions and aim for no more than two minutes of someone’s time
  • If you find, as the owner, you don’t have the time to do so, have someone else who is close to the client and is familiar with your business to do it
  • After each round of surveys, brainstorm ideas together with your team and try and set recommendations for yourself
  • Make the necessary changes in your business
  • Rinse and repeat, preferably on a monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly, etc. basis

Be objective, be gracious.

Let’s be real here, don’t let the ego get in the way. It’s what stops us from growing and understanding ourselves personally and professionally. Customers don’t like certain aspects of your business? Embrace it. Change it. Reach out with open arms and customers are more than likely to give you constructive feedback to improve on.

When you sit down with your customers, just have a whole hearted and HONEST conversation about the current state of affairs. You are empowering them to help you provide a better product or service.

Stay objectively connected with the business and start a process of continuous improvement. It’s a long-term investment (emotionally and financially) that pays off in the end. Happy customers, happy business (isn’t that how the saying goes?).

PS. Now that you’ve made it this far, we’ve actually got the checklist for you here. Go get started and start making your customers’ voices heard!

 

The Power of Data Analysis

Global competition and increasingly ambitious business objectives leave no room for instinctive decision making.  Staying ahead in a world of infinite social media tweets and posts and online shops requires a 360-degree view of the elusive customer to guarantee successful and goal oriented omni-channel brand engagement. You have to know your customer and their every wish and desire to service them strategically and uniquely to guarantee sustainable success.

However, a 2017 CMO survey by Black Ink revealed that marketers perceived access to advanced analytics and general data to be the biggest hurdles in marketing; and, continually find themselves forced to rely on legacy solutions such as Excel or CRM systems.

The key to sustainably successful marketing is to align data insights with strategic company objectives.

Ask yourself:

  • What are your core objectives?
  • How does marketing contribute to these objectives?
  • Which data can you utilize to analyse your performance?
  • How will you measure success?
  • How can you design and install a systematic and continuous measurement process?

These questions will help you identify your key objectives and strategically collect and analyse data to measure success and inform strategy.

Be very selective about which data you choose to analyse and how and why. Metrics should only be included if the relationship between the metric and the goal is clear.

Such as:

Goal

Metric

Increase brand awareness Number of daily website visitors
Focus budget on most profitable customer segments Return on ad spend
Maintain market leader position Content trends
Optimise spending on campaigns Campaign conversion rates

 

This objectives-focused data analysis approach makes data both accessible as well as actionable by providing an in-depth performance summary, enabling decision making on the spot.

Metrics should be re-evaluated and modified regularly and made accessible to all team members; guaranteeing informed, prompt and appropriate decision making and goal oriented actions.

Source: Marketing Analytics dashboards: The do’s and don’ts

Know what your customers are thinking. Act now.
Read more about the Key to Successful Marketing.

Market Research + Economic Trends

To successfully operate a business and grow profits, it is important to have a thorough understanding of the economic opportunities and, equally, threats. Market research provides decision makers with strategic, high quality, objective and comprehensive insights, ensuring long-term, sustainable growth for business.

The economic landscape offers great financial opportunities, as foreign investment fosters local growth on one hand and labour costs, exchange and interest rates and increase competitiveness on the other.

Global economic growth supports Australian economy

The Australian Economy has just completed its 26th year of continuous growth, setting an international record. Australia’s economic future looks promising, while growth has accelerated in around 75% of Australia’s major trading partners. Favourable conditions, such as low interest rates, a relatively weaker Australian Dollar and low unit labour costs, boost Australian competitiveness. This means that expanding manufacturing and service sectors ultimately support domestic financial markets.

Only US trade restrictions, tensions with North Korea and Iran, as well as rising global government debt could potentially cause growth disruptions.

Guaranteed Growth – commodity headwinds support economy growth

The acceleration in economic growth in 50% of countries worldwide (IMF) translates into increased infrastructure spending and consequently fuelling demand for more Australian commodities. This growing demand is strong enough to offset against a slowing Chinese demand, safeguarding the national economy.

A booming Indian population combined with urbanisation and the “Made in India” campaign seeks to grow India’s manufacturing base, fuelling the need for more infrastructure. Furthermore, China’s “One Belt One Road” initiative is estimated to be one of the largest infrastructure projects in history (TIME) while Trump’s US$1 trillion infrastructure program will significantly contribute to commodity demand and set an end to the downturn.

Additionally, LNG contract agreements has commenced multi-year infrastructure projects (0.5% of GDP) and Asian economic and demographic momentum is pushing Australian tourism and education demand upwards (0.5 – 0.75% of GDP), all looking to boost Australian economic growth.

Tightening labour markets and weak wages keep inflation under 2%

Possible growth in wages, as a result of a positive economic outlook, might bring inflation closer to the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) 2-3% target. However there still are very few upward pressures on wages or prices. The government’s focus on budget repairs makes tax cuts or welfare increases appear highly unlikely, meaning that an increase in household spending could only come from either wages growth or an increase in small to medium enterprise (SME) profits.

However, Australia is currently experiencing the lowest wages growth on record (only 2% p.a.), a reality of a highly competitive product and labour market.

RBA Governor Dr. Philipp Lowe expressed his hope for a “pickup in wages” and declared it would be “a good thing if workers asked for a pay rise”. Australia could miss the next wave of global economic growth if consumer spending does not increase.

Households – macroeconomic risk?

Weak income growth, decreasing consumer spending and high levels of household debt are posing a serious financial risk to the Australian economy.

It is not just the fact that the average household debt has increased, but more households have debt and carry it for longer. Increasing living costs combined with weak income growth and job security concerns are creating delicate environment sensitive to interest rate fluctuations. This evokes exaggerated consumer responses to economic news. However, it should be noted that unemployment, interest rates and mortgage rates are decreasing and the labour market is picking up. This means at least in the short-term, nothing will trigger any major financial risk factors. If companies recognise the booming economic headwinds in the future and offer their employees higher wages, consumer spending will increase and the Australian economy will once again prosper.

Does your business strategy incorporate opportunities related to economic growth?

Knowledge is power, and market research provides your organisation with business intelligence tailored to your needs and reduces risky decisions on strategic direction

Source: Euromonitor International

Set your Organisation up for success.

Market Research + Political Risk

Many factors influence businesses but few pose as great a risk as political risk. Understanding and forecasting the political landscape and its risks should be an essential part of every business’ operations. Market Research enables management and decision makers to make informed decisions, identify opportunities and, importantly, mitigate risks.

Staying informed on political risk factors influencing and impacting your company is very time consuming. Market research streamlines this process by providing your business with insights tailored to your needs.

As political agendas are driven by market forces and informed by market research themselves, market research will give companies the most accurate and robust future prognosis.

This is an overview of major political trends, likely to affect a range of different industries.

In 2017, a number of issues have fractured the Australian political landscape, but not limited to: citizenship scandals; energy and climate crises; the continuous asylum seeker debate; increasing conflicts between moderates and conservatives; and the list goes on. These have weakened not only, the Labor Party but also the coalition and have ultimately affected the security of Malcom Turnbull’s leadership.

Energy and climate

The hope of a “lasting energy framework” after Alan Finkel’s investigation into the security and reliability of the electricity market was disappointing. Finkel’s “Blueprint for the Future”, outlined an action plan to repair the Australian electricity market by introducing a Clean Energy Target, to conform to the Paris Climate Change Agreement. This was starkly opposed by coal advocates and argued that 42% of renewable energy by 2030 was too ambitious and would put service reliability at risk. The Greens also criticised the Blueprint as a “short-term political fix”.

The government now supports the new proposal of a National Energy Guarantee (NEG), proposed by the Energy Security Board. The NEG recommends a reliability guarantee and an emissions guarantee.

The new proposal has already been criticised for renewables’ incentives being revoked and for the lack of penalties for corporate non-compliance. The details of this plan will be released in April 2018. It remains to be seen if the new proposal will withstand the challenges from different interest groups.

Asylum seekers

The decommissioning of offshore detention centres on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea and Nauru, as well as the forceful removal of the remaining asylum seekers has provoked global condemnation and affected our relationships with the rest of the world. However, the offshore asylum seeker processing topic remained one of few where the coalition was united under Turnbull.

Liberals’ ideological issues

The global phenomenon of a continuous split in the political right is very tangible in Australia. With Tony Abbot seeking to position himself as the new voice of a Liberal conservative Australia, in direct challenge to Turnbull’s leadership.

Tumultuous leadership

Last year was marked by an increasingly rebellious Coalition, with backbenchers openly defying Turnbull’s authority. An example of this breakdown saw Senator Bernadi openly defecting from the Liberals and establishing his own, the Australian Conservative Party.

With growing pressure from his own ranks, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation inspired the Nationals to publicly challenge the Turnbull government, forcing a Royal Commission into the banking sector against the Prime Minister’s will.

Things got a little heated when Turnbull recently and openly critiqued former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce for his relationship with a former employee. The following resignation by Joyce might just place more strain on a fragile Coalition relationship.

The Australian Labor Party

Whilst Labor’s strategy of “sit[ting} back and watch[ing] the Coalition self-implode” saw the party in front of the Coalition in two-party polls, Bill Shorten still personally ranked behind the Prime Minister in a two-party preferred polls.

Section 44 – “The Citizenship Debacle”

2017 saw a record number of parliamentary resignations owing to a new interpretation of Section 44, which raised questions over constitutional ineligibility of parliamentary membership due to citizenship requirements. The High Court found five MPs constitutionally ineligible, followed by two members of the government’s ministry, the Senate President and finally two cross-bench Senators. This issue of eligibility is largely unresolved, as additional referrals to the High Court have already been lodged and will roll into 2018.

Aboriginal matters

Parliamentary eligibility issues will continue to dominate Aboriginal recognition matters. The rejection of the establishment of a First Nation’s Voice, recommended by the Referendum Council, was appointed to advise on meaningful recognition of First Nation peoples on civil rights grounds.  Any progress on the recognition issue is unlikely, as no goodwill remains between stakeholder groups and the government.

Same sex marriage

In 2017 Australia became the 26th country to legalise same sex marriage, following a 61.6% vote in favour. The postal survey was conducted despite harsh critique on the plebiscite strategy, for its non-binding nature, exclusion of oversea voters, security concerns, the constitutional eligibility of the ABS to conduct a plebiscite and the government’s justification to spend AUD$122 million of taxpayer money to conduct it. Despite the overwhelming vote in favour, the matter still seems unresolved, as the balance of marriage equality and religious protection remains highly debatable.

Risk Management and Market Research

Considering the volatility of the past year, the political future seems hard to predict. Major new policies seem unlikely in the near future, though past issues seem likely to continue well into 2018.

When seeking to establish an effective risk management plan, success is highly dependent upon the identifying relevant risk factors. Market research can identify firm- and country-specific risks and distinguish between instability and/or government risk, helping you determine relevant threats effectively.

This is particularly important, as the nature of risk varies from firm to firm and is dependent on different exposures. As companies are rarely able to influence country-specific risk or even governmental risk factors, such as subtle policy changes, these can pose a great threat to businesses. Hence, it is of utmost importance to identify and effectively manage these risks. Market research can provide those insights needed to make relevant risk mitigation and management decisions, so that operations and financial performance can be better safeguarded going in to the future.

Sources: Committee for Economic Development of AustraliaInternational Risk Management InstituteStable Research.

Uncover your risks with market research.
Contact us now for a free, no obligation, 2 hour consultation with our Principal analyst.

Market Research + Risk

Can YOU afford the risk?

Market research and risk is something you do not always find in the same sentence but now you have!  We all have risk within our own businesses and while we cannot be rid of them (oh, do we wish we could), we can only manage them. Failure to manage that risk can potentially harm your brand or, worse, cost you your business.

Depending on your industry and business, risks can come in all shapes and sizes such as:

  • fluctuating currency exchange;
  • varying legal landscapes;
  • differing cultural differences and nuances;
  • potential language barriers;
  • training labour;
  • insufficient transport and logistics solutions;
  • digital security breaches; and
  • protection of intellectual property (IP) and data management.

While these risks cannot be managed all at once (let’s be realistic here), it is important to remember that good risk management practice consists of taking small steps rather than being overwhelmed from the get-go.

Using good quality, third-party market research, you can identify, mitigate and prioritise risks in your business:

Managing risk with market research

Managing risk with market research

Understanding your market and customers helps you identify potential risks for your business, e.g. new competitors’ tactics, malicious suppliers, etc. Using this information, you can proactively develop strategies specifically targeting each of the potential risks that were identified in the research.

Ultimately, as the business owner or decision maker, you can prioritise these risks from the most pressing to the least important according to your mission, strategy and goals in the business. This could mean, for example, protecting IP around your main product (competitive advantage) is much more important than transport constraints due to a public holiday for a software company.

Depending on the industry and what your product is, risks can vary greatly between businesses. It is essential to use the power of market research to understand your markets, customers and external and internal influences to effectively identify, mitigate then prioritise your risks to avoid irreversible damage to your brand and business.

Unlock your potential with market research.
Contact us now for a free, no obligation, 2 hour consultation with our Principal analyst.