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Trade Talk: More proof that MR needs to adapt



Article ID:
20130502
Published:
May 2013, page 10
Author:
Joseph Rydholm, Quirk's Editor

Article Abstract

This article looks at a survey conducted among customer experience professionals and why they are more focused on increasing text analytics and VOC software than traditional marketing research.

A couple of things jumped out at me as I read summaries of findings from recent studies on customer experience (CX) professionals conducted by the Temkin Group, a Waban, Mass., customer experience research and consulting firm.

The first is, these people really seem to love their jobs. Among the 283 respondents surveyed for one of the studies, 98 percent of CX pros said they think they are in a great industry. Further, 49 percent think their efforts had a positive impact in 2012 and 75 percent expect to have a positive impact in 2013.

Customer experience also seems like a growth area, as 46 percent of CX pros expect their firm to expand their full-time CX staff this year, up from 40 percent last year. And just over half (54 percent) expect their companies to spend more on CX in 2013 than they did in 2012.

Which brings me to the other noteworthy data bit. When asked to indicate the vendors whose services they expect to increase spending on in 2013, the CX workers put text analytics and voice-of-the-customer software vendors at the top of the list. At the bottom? Market research firms.

Falling behind

For some insights on the reasons for MR’s poor showing, I checked in with Bruce Temkin, managing partner of the Temkin Group. In his view, many market research firms are in danger of falling behind if they don’t keep up with a radical change happening in the world of customer insights – one that has seen a host of other sources supplant marketing research as a key vehicle by which to monitor customer behaviors, opinions and needs.

“In the ‘old world,’ companies would periodically do research on customers that would lead to analysis by market research people, who would analyze the data and create some PowerPoint slides. The results might have initiated some action by the company but all too often the good intentions for making change dissipated quickly after the presentation of results,” Temkin says.

“In the ‘new world,’ customer insights are delivered to people who run the operations on a regular basis. Instead of a single set of PowerPoint slides, store managers, call-center supervisors and retail category managers receive an ongoing set of insights that are tailored to their specific roles.”

Thus it would seem that the need for the data-generating services of traditional research firms is decreasing as companies have access to more and more real-time (or nearly real-time) data on their customers from sources other than the usual ad hoc research study, such as e-mails to the company, conversations with call-center agents and social media dialogues.

“As companies get a better handle on this unstructured data and combine it with other things that they know about customers from feedback systems, CRM and ERP applications, then the amount of useful operational insights will grow dramatically. Companies will increasingly depend on these ongoing operational insights to run their businesses,” Temkin says.

Which is where the text analytics firms have stepped in. “The text analytics vendors have dramatically improved the ability of companies to analyze large volumes of this free-form data. This is an area that will continue to increase in importance as companies look for new insights in different areas of unstructured data.”

All of this is yet another indication that research firms – and in-house corporate research departments – need to move beyond “merely” serving as facilitators of data-gathering. There is no shortage of data. In fact, there’s too much of it. Rather than helping clients get more data, researchers need to help them analyze and maximize the information they already have.

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