Having empathy for your customers enables you to get more insights.
When a customer, or a respondent in a one-on-one interviews, sees and knows that you care about what they have to say, they will tell you more.
Regardless of what the data says, every person has a different story. Are you sincerely interested in hearing it?
I believe it's incumbent upon us as marketers to hear those stories and to use what we hear to create products, services and customer experiences that meet, and exceed, the customers' needs.
Steve Jobs was famous for saying he didn't ask consumers what they wanted because they didn't know. That may be true, but by listening to customers, we are able to discern what the different needs and wants are and come up with a unique and remarkable solution that meets those needs.
Dialogue is critical if we are to get consumer insights from qualitative research that drive innovation and accelerate sales.
As a group of executives were disbanding from listening to a two-hour focus group of 10 respondents, everyone missed what I thought was a great summary by one of the participants -- our client was more like Nordstroms than Wal-Mart and shouldn't be ashamed of that fact.
I used this insight to help convince the client to not engage in a price war with their competition. It was inconsistent with their brand and would kill their margins. Ultimately, the client agreed.
It amazing what you can learn that will help your business if you are empathetic with those with whom you are working and targeting.
Listen to what they have to say, you might learn something, or better yet, it might spark the next big idea for you or your firm.