The dreaded “R” word — rework. Whether you are building a house, designing a website, or executing a custom market research project, “rework” is a word that both the client and its research partner would love to avoid.
Not all rework is bad of course, as ideas need to be generated and explored before keeping the good and tossing the bad. But how do we, as keepers of the customer voice, avoid those big problems: Not getting the right information at the right time, missing the mark on key objectives, leaving important questions unanswered? The answer is simple: By relentlessly pursuing input from stakeholders and end users through these three critical steps in the process.
Conversations with our stakeholders and end users drive this process, by ensuring we get clear on the stated, and sometimes hidden, objectives.”
Before we even start the process of gathering customer input, we need to make sure we know exactly what we are trying to accomplish, or where we are trying to go. While this sounds easy enough, it requires a process that takes planning, effort, and thought. Conversations with our stakeholders and end users drive this process, by ensuring we get clear on the stated, and sometimes hidden, objectives. What decisions will this research help inform? Who are the decision makers? Will they have input during the design process? We want to hear all goals and hypotheses so that we can build them out collaboratively and fully. This approach ensures that we are on the correct path from the start, avoiding risk of reaching the end of an engagement only to realize that a key need was overlooked.
Objectives covered, we set off to gather the needed information. At this stage it remains critical that we work collaboratively to ensure the questions are framed in a way that will make sense to the target audience: Will we get the feedback we need to meet a particular objective? A simple review with the key players can be an incredibly useful at this point, as it can help us quickly identify omissions, spark new conversations and ideas, and distinguish content that is unnecessary, leaving us with a final set of questions that are succinct yet comprehensive.
This approach ensures that we are on the correct path from the start, avoiding risk of reaching the end of an engagement only to realize that a key need was overlooked.”
With information in hand, it’s now time to craft a story. The worst thing that we can do at this point as researchers is to put our heads down in isolation until a final report is ready. Instead, we prefer to take the “share early and often” approach. Starting with the simple things such as templates and color schemes, we make sure that we understand the look and feel that will resonate. From there, we set a goal of an initial review of key information, outlining what we see as the key points and general storyline. Through these conversations, we carefully distill the information down so that the final story is centered on key insights and strategy recommendations that are clear, relevant, and grounded in data. There should be no surprises that require massive course corrections or structural changes by the time things are finalized, as the results will have been shared back and forth many times.
It is only through this type of collaborative partnership, with a constant focus on the needs of our clients, that we are able to bring the voice of the customer into the equation in a way that avoids rework for everyone.
Want to learn more on how to avoid a rework?