For many years research suppliers have been adapting and modifying solutions to meet client information, budgetary and deliverable expectations. Today we call our efforts to apply “better solutions that meet new requirements, unarticulated needs, or existing market needs” innovation (REF: Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/innovation). The innovation occurring today is exciting and presents new alternatives to both active and passive data collection techniques. With being innovative comes a responsibility to pay close attention to the quality of the research being conducted and integration of different methods of data collection to communicate the complete story. An innovative solution, stretching the limits of technology, is of little value if the information gathered and reported are not sufficient quality to facilitate strategic decision making. Focus must be placed on how the innovative tool/technology is enabling high quality data collection to occur in the most effective manner.
As research suppliers we need to continually focus on:
1. Seeking out new data collection technologies. As digital communication methods continue to evolve, the research supplier community must continually adapt to new ways of capturing respondent feedback.
2. Being mindful of target audience identification and access. When capturing respondent experiences in passive and active ways we must be sure to correctly identify the individual providing feedback and determine if they are the target audience or part of the general population.
3. Posing the right questions for the research objectives & using the appropriate data collection technology. Active data collection methods must address the research objectives with questions designed to achieve an unbiased response regardless of data collection method. Passive data collection needs to consider the context of the feedback collected as well as the frequency of similar experiences from the target audience.
4. Ensuring data quality and integrity. Innovative data collection techniques present huge opportunities for unique insight if the information is closely monitored and results validated to ensure the data used for analysis accurately represents the view of the target audience. Unqualified participants, straight liners, or those providing illogical or inconsistent responses must be removed from the final data set.
5. Communicating the findings. All research starts with the question “What decision(s) do I have to make?” Successful active and passive data collection techniques must address this most basic question. Once the methodology is developed, the fieldwork is conducted and the data is analyzed, the information must be reported in a straightforward, easy to understand manner that is immediately usable to strategic decision makers. Results today may need to be provided using more interactive methods including video and/or interactive apps or social interactive CRM tools (like Salesforce Chatter). It is important to consider the end users of the research and provide the most appropriate tools for them to access and interpret the information for strategic decision making. Tools using the most up-to-date communication technologies may lack appeal or be under-utilized by individuals that are not comfortable with technology.
While data quality and customer relationship management will likely always be important in supplier selection, a research supplier’s ability to be and remain innovative by keeping up with changing technology will ultimately differentiate them from competitors.
- Consumer Research