Supplement Quantitative VOC with Qualitative for Consumer Insights

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Jun, 17, 2014 @ 10:06 AM

listen intensely for consumer insights










I just completed two dozen one-on-one interviews for a client who had fielded a quantitative customer satisfaction survey based on Net Promoter Score (NPS).


The client received very positive feedback, and a correspondingly strong NPS; however, they felt like they may be missing something so they provided me with the names of 40 respondents to reach out to and engage in a one-on-one dialog about what the company did well and what it could do better.


I learned that their customers were very engaged given that 60% responded to my call or email within a week.


I also learned several things the company does well (i.e., makes their clients' jobs easier, very objective) and what they could do better (i.e., have more client contacts across the company, ensure the lead client contact stays in touch more frequently).


These are insights my client did not get from quantitative research. 


Quantitative tells you what people are doing or what they think.


Qualitative tells you why and what you can do to improve.


Have a dialog with your customers to get to know them, their needs and their wants better.


Better yet, have an independent third party have a dialog with your customers since your customers will be more willing to give the third party some "bad news," or suggestions for improvement, than they'll give the supplier directly.


The insights you get will help you improve your products, service, communications and the customer experience.


All of which will help you generate more revenue and have more satisfied customers.


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Tags: customer satisfaction, VoC, voice of the customer, net promoter score, consumer insights accelerate sales, one-on-one interviews provide consumer insights

One-to-One Relationships Generate Consumer Insights

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Dec, 19, 2013 @ 06:12 AM

one-to-one provides greater consumer insights







At a speech before the Executives' Club of Chicago, Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald shared how P&G has evolved its marketing in the age of social media.

"We discover meaningful insights into what consumers need.  We translate those insights into noticeably superior products that are focused on those needs.  We communicate that superiority through advertisements that include compelling claims, performance demonstrations and superior benefit visualization."

"We want to be the most digitized company in our industry.  It is our vision that with digital technology we can have a one-to-one relationship with everyone in the world."

Given the size of Procter & Gamble, if they can have a one-to-one relationship with everyone in the world, your firm can certainly do the same with your customers and prospects.

By committing to have a one-to-one relationship with each of your customers, you'll be able to determine their needs and wants.

In addition, as the relationship matures you will be able to leverage relationships with your best customers whereby they will provide referrals via social media and help you extend and expand your marketing.

There are a couple of things you need to do to accomplish this:

  • Have an excellent CRM systems that everyone of your employees uses religiously. This is how you document customers' needs, wants and insights. Ultimately you will use the information in the CRM to let your customers know how much you care about them.
  • Empower, and encourage, your employees to engage employees in a dialog, in-person or online, to learn more about their needs and wants as well as what they can do for the customer to improve their customer experience.

It wasn't until P&G conducted ethnographic research, one-on-one's with customers, that they learned how to position Febreze.

Febreze, a product originally conceived as a revolutionary way to destroy odors, became an air freshener used once things are already clean. The Febreze revamp occurred in the summer of 1998. Within two months, sales doubled. A year later, the product brought in $230 million. Since then Febreze has spawned dozens of spinoffs — air fresheners, candles and laundry detergents — that now account for sales of more than $1 billion a year.

What are you doing to have a one-to-one relationship with your customers?

Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: dialog, empower employees, consumer insights accelerate sales, one-on-one interviews provide consumer insights

8 Reasons to Have Face-To-Face Communication

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Nov, 19, 2013 @ 06:11 AM

Face to face communication resized 600


Thanks to a great presentation by Tonya Reiman (@tonyareiman) on "The Power of Body Language."

Following are eight reasons you should opt to have a face-to-face communication with someone when given the option:

  1. Face-to-face communications establish more trust than other modes of communication.
  2. Face-to-face communication is more likely to be perceived as credible.
  3. Face-to-face communications are more productive than other modes of communication.
  4. Face-to-face communication is more efficient than other modes, there is less likelihood for misunderstanding or misinterpreting.
  5. Face-to-face communication allows for better rapport and trust-building than audio or written communications which can make the difference in reaching agreement, ensuring that each party understands the other, and closing a sale.
  6. 89% of American workers say email, text and voicemail get in the way of their workplace relationships.
  7. 87% of American workers say email is not an effective way to resolve workplace confrontations.
  8. 67% of senior executives say their organization would be more productive with face-to-face communication.
I've seen statistics that say 10% of communication is what is said, 20% is what we hear, 70% is what we see.
Think about how much more you get out of face-to-face communications than communications that are just based on email or telephone calls.
Their are so many visual cues in a face-to-face communication that it's hard to deny its effectiveness.
How many times have you had miscommunication with someone via email or telephone that would not have ocurred had you been speaking directly with one another?
When you are able to see the person to whom you are speaking, you receive visual cues on whether or not they understand what you are saying and you give them visual cues as well.
Let me assure you, you will get far more insights from customers, prospects, channel partners and management team members when you have a face-to-face conversation with them.
Let me know if I can be of assistance.
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Tags: consumer insights, dialog, earn your customers trust, one-on-one interviews provide consumer insights, authenticity, connecting emotionally with customers, face to face communications

7 Dimensions for Creating an Emotional Connection with Your Brand

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Oct, 25, 2013 @ 06:10 AM

emotional connection to the brand






Your brand is the heart and soul of your business.

Humans have a hard-wired need to have a relationship with other humans, as well as the functional and fun items and tools we use in our daily lives.

Consumers typically have the most powerful connection to their smartphone engaging with it 150 times a day.

While we love novelty and change, we also have a strong need for constancy and commitment.

Brands serve a vital human purpose. They give identity, meaning and connectivity to our experiences and possessions.

Ultimately we want to create a passion for our brand with the customer.

This is done on seven dimensions:

1. Form -- the physical manifestation of the brand. Visual as well as audio elements including tone, timber, beat and harmonic qualities. Form is the face and voice of the brand.

2. Function -- those that are indispensable and unique to the brand. Explicit functionality can be easily and well articulated by the consumer and implemented by the product designer. Implicit functionality is found to be valuable and indispensable by the consumer but they have trouble articulating these elements verbally.

3. Feelings -- automatic emotional associations arise at the thought or mention of a brand. Shorthand for a large network of attributes and connections (e.g., place, social setting, occasion; act of preparing; enjoying; post enjoyment; larger cultural context; and, live events or cycle of life).

4. Values -- broader social and moral values that a brand may be connected with either explicitly or implicitly. Values that may be relevant to the essential character of specific brands are: personal, spiritual, moral, communal, social, political, economic, philosophical, historical, traditional, cultural, national, environmental, legal or lifecycle-related.

5. Benefits -- personally meaningful rewards we expect to acquire by using brands. The following benefits stand out in associating a brand with a consumer's personal identity: beauty, intellect, sexual attractiveness, fashion, knowledgeable, success, pride, exclusive and elite, access to power and resources, genetic and racial pride and uniqueness of personality.

6. Metaphors -- reveal larger than life expectations that come to be consciously or subconsciously associated with a brand and its meaning to a consumer. The metaphor is useless unless it is tangibly and consistently reinforced (e.g., Volvo = safety).

7. Extensions -- natural extensions make sense in the consumer's mind. The most successful extensions use one of the following strategies: functionality addition (e.g., 3M sticky notes); functionality merge (e.g., shampoo and conditioner); occasion merge (e.g., turkey beyond holidays); interaction and interface merge (e.g., Baskin Robbins and Oreos); technology merge (e.g., Intel inside); and, device merge (e.g., iPhone).

Established brands should drive home the core feelings consumers have about your brand.

New brands need to focus on unique benefits and function that will differentiate the brand.

Commodity brands need to focus on form, function and benefits to engage the brain on a practical level.

Luxury brands need to generate an emotional response to compensate for the premium pricing.

How does your brand stack up on these seven dimensions?

Have you asked your customers?

Need More Insights From Your Analytics? Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: dialogue, emotional connection to the brand, one-on-one interviews provide consumer insights, customer satisfaction measurement and improvement, core values

Analytics Needs Customer Feedback Mechanisms

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Oct, 16, 2013 @ 06:10 AM


Analytics needs consumer feedback








Great article which reinforces what I have been saying about the importance of having a dialogue with your customers rather than relying solely on analytics.

Where's Your Skeptic's Hat? Analytics Needs Customer Feedback Mechanisms

Monday, February 20, 2012 by Darshan Desai

Recently, I came across a very interesting article in New York Times, How Company Learns Your Secrets.  In this article, the author Charles Duhigg describes the application of analytics and behavioral science to large retailers’ marketing efforts. The real fascinating part of the article was the story of Target’s efforts to use purchase history and demographic data to identify which of its female customers were in the second trimester of a pregnancy, so that they can better target those customers, and try shifting their buying habits. Very thought-provoking story. Somehow, the story and discussion followed by the story made me rethink the idea of using the static data like purchase history and demographic data to construct complex mathematical, predictive models. It also made me think about the questions like when to rely on these models, to what extent, and how to use customer feedback and insights to make these models more reliable to support complex decisions.

Analytics seems to be a very hot topic right now, and the software vendors make it look even hotter by spreading bright and shiny success stories about it. We have heard a lot about the benefits of analytics used successfully. However, we don’t hear much about what happens when analytics done poorly and used inappropriately. Analytics provides highly powerful insights if given in the right hands, but, what happens when those powerful tools are given in the wrong hands. I have heard some stories of how analytics goes wrong in the absence of right feedback mechanisms; like, inaccurate plagiarism detection failed the brightest student, the most influential customers got fired because of the assumption of low value, the smartest employee quit because of the wrongly done performance tracking, and I still get the diapers and baby-formula samples when my kid is seven! These all reminds me of The Monkey Story, which is about a bird who owned a gold coin but could not hold it in his beak, so could not really have it.

In the obsession to throw coupons and samples to get some more business, you may find it tempting to spy on your target customers’ purchase history. However, if you want to make effective decisions to gain a competitive edge, watch out. And, be aware of the inherent biases of predictive analytics, have dialogs with your customers, get useful feedback from them, engage them, and effectively use that data to improve your model and augment your predictions and decisions. I love this video that emphasizes importance of having dialog:

For owning the analytics gold coin and for really having it, it is crucial to constantly use your judgement and wear a skeptic hat to explore and understand the data patterns and existence of its inherent biases. When you are building a predictive model, what matters are the associations between the variables, and the associations may or may not have causal relationships. Cotton-ball purchases and pregnancy may have high correlations, however, that does not mean that cotton ball purchase causes pregnancy. That’s why the predictive models may or may not have good explanatory powers and vice a versa. And, that is why, to come up with better predictions and decisions, you need multiple approaches and techniques to verify unintuitive results of your model. To enhance predictive and explanatory power of your models, it is important to augment the operational data with customer experience data generated through chats, emails, questions, dialog or surveys, and, the qualitative customer insights and feedback gained from on-going social media conversations. You don't need to assume much when you have the opportunity to ask.

Are you using analytics to detect patterns in your data?

Is your analytics helping you gain competitive edge?

Are you augmenting and integrating the customer surveys, feedbacks, insights and experiences with your predictive models? How?

Need More Insights From Your Analytics? Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: dialogue, consumer insights, one-on-one interviews provide consumer insights, face to face communications

Case Study: Insights From Sales Can Accelerate Sales Dramatically

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Aug, 02, 2013 @ 06:08 AM

Insights help accelerate sales


The V.P. of sales for Farm Bureau Insurance wanted to know why his 880 agents weren't coming anywhere near meeting their annual sales goals of Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) health insurance.

I interviewed 20 of his agents to understand how they identified leads, scheduled appointments, conducted sales presentations and what they, and their customers, thought about BCBS health insurance.

To verify there was no additional learning from the 860 other agents, I conducted an online survey asking the same questions I asked in the one-on-one interviews.  

The findings were consistent; however, the depth of insights from the one-on-one's was significantly greater than the online survey.  The ability to ask follow-up questions is invaluable for obtaining insights.

What I learned was:

  • Agents only scheduled one hour for a sales presentation to their clients.
  • In that hour, they sold auto insurance, homeowners insurance and life insurance, they rarely had time to mention health insurance.
  • Agents recieved a greater commission for selling Farm Bureau auto, home and life insurance than they did selling BCBS health insurance.
  • Agents, and their customers, thought BCBS health insurance was the best available.
  • Farm Bureau has an office on a major thoroughfare in every county in the state.
  • One agent would not meet with prospects in their living room, instead he suggested they sit around the kitchen table to ensure he could see both the husband and the wife at the same time.
The V.P. of Sales was surprised and pleased by the number and depth of insights the one-on-one's provided.  
However, he was most pleased with the results of the recommended solution to his problem.
I recommended that Farm Bureau buy an A-frame sign to set out in front of each office every morning.  The sign had the BCBS logo with the words "sold here" above the Farm Bureau logo.  
Both companies were so well known and respected, nothing more was needed.
After spending about $60,000 on A-frame signs, Farm Bureau met its 12-month BCBS health care sales goals in less than three months.
The signs let Farm Bureau customers and prospects know they sold BCBS health insurance.  They also reminded Farm Bureau agents to mention BCBS health insurance as they were walking out of their office.
While the respondents to your research may not provide the answer to your specific question, their thoughts and insights will help you uncover the solution.
How do you use insights to accelerate sales?
Need More Insights From Your Analytics? Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales 

Tags: dialogue, accelerate sales performance, one-on-one interviews provide consumer insights

Conversations Generate More Insights Than Surveys

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Jul, 12, 2013 @ 06:07 AM


A dialogue will generate more insights than surveys

Vovici recently posted a blog entitled "58% of Respondents Don't Like Surveys" ( 

Vovici fielded the survey and describe themselves as, "the leading provider of intelligent online survey management and feedback solutions."

As I've gained more experience garnering insights from different target audiences, I recommend talking to customers and prospects rather than surveying them. 

Surveys are cold and impersonal.  Interviews, ideally one-on-one, are a conversation.

There were some positives in Vovici's research:

  • 13% of respondents want to voice their opinion
  • 10% like to be helpful
  • 9% like interesting topics
  • 7% want their answers to make a difference

Having conducted quantitative and qualitative research for more than 30 years, my experience is that one-on-one, in-depth interviews consistently yield far more actionable insights than focus groups or surveys.

This methodology is also a much better way to build a relationship with a customer or prospect.

Consumers, B2B and B2C, want to express their opinions, like to be helpful, like interesting topics and want their answers to make a difference. 

All of this can be accomplished when you have a face-to-face, or even a personal phone, conversation with a respondent.

Not only will you get feedback on the topics you want to discuss, you'll find out what's important to the respondent that you hadn't even thought about.

I highly recommend completing every interview with the question, "Is there anything I failed to ask you that you think I need to know about this topic?" Frequently the respondent will provide additional thoughts on an earlier question or make a suggestion that no one had even considered.

Your sincere interest in what the respondent is saying will let the respondent know they are being helpful. When the respondent sees this, they'll be more open and give you their in-depth thoughts on the subject rather than the canned answers they think you want to hear or the socially acceptable answer that's frequently provided in a focus group.

It's much more interesting to speak with a real person than to complete an impersonal online survey.

Your follow-up questions, and ability to answer the respondents' questions, will affirm that their answers will make a difference.

I conducted one-on-one interviews with 15 customers and prospects of a client and followed it up with an online survey of another 800 respondents.  The answers to the standard questions were consistent between the qualitative and quantitative research. 

However, the depth and value of the insights from the interviews were invaluable relative to what was obtained from the online survey.

What's your experience with in-depth interviews versus other methodologies?

Need More Insights From Your Analytics? Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: dialogue, consumer insights accelerate sales, one-on-one interviews provide consumer insights

15 Questions for Channel Partners to Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Jul, 05, 2013 @ 06:07 AM

Channel partner insights accelerate sales
Following are 15 questions to consider asking your channel partners in order to get insights that will accelerate sales.
Keep in mind a broad definition of channel partners.  These may be your employees, your ultimate channel partners, your sales force, distributors or manfuacturers' reps who sell several products or services.
Questions should be refined based on your objectives and your business.
However, do not assume you already know the answers to the questions and do expect to get a lot of different answers.
  1. How long have you been in the business?  How did you get started?  Who else have you worked with?
  2. What is a good day at work for you?  What is a bad day at work for you?
  3. What do you think makes for a good client relationship?  What do you think makes for a bad client relationship?
  4. What trends do you see that are causing customers to shift to another brand or product?
  5. Who are your biggest competitors?
  6. How do you differentiate yourself?
  7. Who are your customers?  What are their titles?  What are they like?  How do they keep up with what’s going on in the industry (i.e., websites, trade publications)?
  8. What are the steps in your sales process?
  9. Where do you add value in the sales process?
  10. Strengths, weaknesses, personifications of competitive companies?
  11. What should we do to develop a better relationship with you and your firm?
  12. How often do you want to be contacted by us?  In what form (i.e., email or telephone)?  In what information are you most interested?
  13. What do other brands you sell do well?  Where can we improve?
  14. What should we do to make our products/services leapfrog ahead and stand out among the competitors’ products?
  15. What have I not asked you that you think I need to know to improve our service to you and your company?

The first three questions are really a warm up to build trust with the channel partner and to establish the fact you are very interested in, and value, what they have to say.

Ask follow-up questions to any answers that are vague or unclear.  Ask the respondent to “tell me more about that” or “can you give me a specific example?”

Based on my experience, the less the respondent thinks you know about an industry or category, the more they'll tell you.

Begin every interview assuming you know nothing about what you are asking questions. Listen with "fresh ears." 

Let me know if I can assist you in getting consumer insights from your channel partners.

Need More Insights From Your Analytics? Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: consumer insights accelerate sales, one-on-one interviews provide consumer insights, sales performance acceleration, channel partners

Empower Employees to Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Jul, 03, 2013 @ 06:07 AM

Empowered employees accelerate sales

I just ran across notes I took from a webinar where David Leinconi was talking about his new book 5 Elements of a Dysfuntional Team.

Given all I read about the percentage of engaged employees (29%), not fully engaged (45%) and actively disengaged (26%), I believe we as business owners, leaders and managers need to address this discrepancy to improve our business and our customers' experience, thereby accelerating sales.

The success of your business correlates with the level of empowerment, and engagement, of your employees.

The five elements of a dysfuntional team are:

1. Absense of trust

2. Fear of conflict

3. Lack of commitment

4. Avoidance of accountability

5. Inattention to results

Any of these elements are problematic. If you have more than one, you have big problems. Talk to your employees about each of these -- on-one-on and in small groups.

Address them by ensuring that you and your management team are:

1. Good listeners

2. Perceptive and empathetic

3. Open communicators

4. Calm

5. Genuinely concerned about the well-being, health and growth of your employees

Learn who your engaged employees are and give them more responsibility.  They will help your business grow by building stronger customer relationships, increasing productivity and helping engage more of the "not fully engaged."

Learn who your disengaged employees are and get rid of them. They are costing you business, hurting your relationships with customers and poisoining your organization. Don't forget, these could be your members of your team who, it turns out, aren't good managers that employees trust.

There are too many great workers looking for a place where they can make a meaningful contribution to tolerate disengaged workers.

Remember that your employees are just like everyone else, "they don't care how much you know until they know how much you care"  . . . about them.

Need help talkinng to your team to determine who's fully engaged, not fully engaged or disengaged?  Call me and I'll help you empower your employees to accelerate sales.

Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: accelerate sales performance, one-on-one interviews provide consumer insights, empowered employees, customer bonding programs

Consumer Insights Accelerate Sale of Golf Club

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Jun, 27, 2013 @ 06:06 AM

Consumer insights accelerate sales of a golf course


This is another "real life" example of insights accelerating sales; however, it was somewhat indirect. 

This is the third gated golf community for which I worked, but the first for which I did any formal qualitative research. 

By having in-depth one-on-one interviews with the members, I was able to really get a feel for their emotional attachment to the club that would have been difficult, if not impossible, to get with online surveys or telephone interviews.

This client was the only private golf course in the greater Myrtle Beach-area -- a golf Mecca. 

The members were concerned over the lack of membership growth, whether or not the clubhouse dining and recreational facilities needed to be expanded and whether or not the golf course needed renovations. 

I conducted in-depth one-on-one interviews with 20 club members lasting from 45 to 60 minutes to determine:

  1. Brand perceptions;
  2. Drivers of brand selection;
  3. Trends and attitudes regarding golf and club membership;
  4. Brand differentiators, strategies and positioning; and,
  5. Unsatisfied needs and potential areas for improvement.

These interviews revealed that respondents loved the club  and the club pro “as is.” 

They wanted the club to remain just a golf club with no additional amenities. 

They did not feel the club had any competition even though there were numerous other golf courses in the area.

They felt the design of the golf course was the strongest value proposition of the club and opinions about the future of food and beverage service were mixed.

Since this research was conducted with resident members, I recommended conducting the same research with non-resident members and sharing key findings with all members. 

I provided an integrated marketing communications and ultimately recommended “staying the course” until more could be learned.

Ultimately the club was sold to McConnell Golf with the members retaining their membership rights to this club and a consortium of six other private clubs in North and South Carolina.

McConnell Golf is interested in golf-only clubs, and the research indicated that this is what this club wanted to remain.

Need More Insights From Your Analytics? Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: emotional connection to the brand, consumer insights accelerate sales, one-on-one interviews provide consumer insights