Have you ever experienced the complete chaos of research? Have you ever lost focus because the insights seem to be coming at you from all sides? You are not alone in this. That is why we use a framework to create order in this chaos. In this blog, we will mainly focus on the people side of research.
Before you can start on any innovation track, it is pivotal to know what the as-is situation is and what is happening in the world around you. For this, you will need to do research. This might sound easy, but in reality, this ‘let’s google and see what happens’ approach almost always leads to confusion. Therefore, it is crucial to follow a structure. By using the framework shown below, it becomes easier to structure exactly what you need as clearly as possible.
By using these four categories, we are able to structure our research and thus making it more efficient. These 4 topics should all be tackled separately to increase the coverage of the research.
Researching ‘People’ as a starting point
As said previously I will mainly focus on the first topic: ‘people’. This category is a category that can’t, moreover shouldn’t be explored from behind your desk. To gather invaluable customer insights, you have to be willing to get out of the building, talk to customers and try to understand what it is your customer really needs.
The biggest hurdle is isolating your prejudices and assumptions about what customers want and trying to innovate from there. To increase your chances of discovering latent needs I recommend you approach this phase in two steps. First, you will want to gather a lot of input through quantitative research to get a feel for what a general customer thinks, feels and wants. Second, you can use this input to dive in and discover deeper needs through qualitative research.
The goal of quantitative research is to gain insights into the general opinion of your customer base and know how the different opinions are distributed. This research is mostly done through surveys. The questionnaire is then directed to as many people as possible. The broader the sample the more representative the results will be.
The selected sample should, however, be representative of the group you are trying to solve a problem for. The most recurring parameters for this selection are age, gender, location, language and often times the distribution across different products.
With the quantitative research, you are able to pinpoint what is awry and what is excellent. But the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind it all, is still missing. To make sure you know why your customer thinks the way he/she does, and how he/she does it, you will have to go more in-depth using qualitative research.
Qualitative research enables you to dig deeper into a specific need or pain point. The goal is to dig deep into the latent needs of the customer. This can be accomplished through various approaches: interviews, focus groups, blind product testing…
With all of these methods, the key is to observe and understand. The toughest thing during this process is to let go, or be aware of, all your assumptions. The most important questions you have to ask are: Why and how?
Another trick I recommend you to use during qualitative research is to leave a silence once in a while. If you feel you haven’t quite reached the core of the problem, just wait, observe and listen. As long as you don’t feel like you have to carry the conversation and fill every void, your interviewee will keep on talking; reflecting. Through the things he/she says and the way, it is said you are able to deduct the reason behind a problem.
And once you understand the reason behind a problem you are able to start solving the underlying needs of your customers.
By combining these two methods you are able to start broad and process a lot of information and subsequently dive deep into one or multiple subjects to get to the core of the problem.