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By Tamara Irminger Underwood

There are a lot of companies that claim to “listen to their customers” using Voice of the Customer strategies, but few do it correctly. Some companies think that online pop-up surveys that can be answered with emojis counts as “listening”, while others think that reading online comments counts. While these methodologies may offer some general insight, they don’t go far enough to truly capture the motivations and desires of a target audience.

There is a reason that experienced qualitative research professionals continue to rely on multiple market research methods such as focus groups when trying to better design Voice of the Customer studies. In the hands of a good moderator, focus groups can cut through all the chatter and illuminate what consumers really think or feel with regards to a brand or product.

For brick-and-mortar stores, the competitive landscape and shifting purchasing behaviors often means declining in-store sales. While this may spell doom for some brands, it doesn’t need to play out this way. Qualitative research can unearth what compels consumers to remain loyal, or what drives them away. Discovering the positives and negatives are equally useful, allowing companies to make strategic changes and modifications to better serve customers’ needs.

Surveys vs. Focus Groups in Voice of the Customer Studies

Voice of the Customer studies often comprise customer surveys — only.  While surveys are good at capturing quick snap-shots, they are better at identifying patterns from a zoomed-out view, rather than offering more granular detail. The best research outcomes for Voice of the Customer studies involve quantitative research AND qualitative research. When budgets allow, this will often offer the most comprehensive insight into the customer journey.

Surveys are a good tool for understanding general trends and can help researchers identify patterns that can be focused on using focus groups or in-depth interviews. A well-moderated focus group can take general ideas identified in a survey and drill down into what influences purchasing or decision-making behaviors.

When companies invest in understanding what drives consumers’ behaviors, they are better prepared to make mid-course corrections. As the marketplace continues to evolve and new technologies and purchasing options become available, listening and understanding your customers are the keys to success, and the best way to do that is by incorporating qualitative research into Voice of the Customer studies.

To learn how qualitative research can enhance Voice of the Customer studies, request a proposal today.