At Paragon, research comes first.
We believe that truly understanding your customer is a precursor to delivering meaningful digital experiences. Customer insights are at the core of all great digital solutions– and when applied correctly can help organizations optimize conversions across a customer’s journey. It’s important; that’s why customer research (along with strategy) comprises an entire pillar of our service catalog – a category we call “ENVISION with insights”.
Deep customer insights are cultivated by carefully choosing the right research tactic to engage and listen to your audience. It’s never a one-size-fits-all solution – as budget, industry, customer profile and project goals all impact the decision. However, the end goal is always the same: to extract data underlying the thoughts and feelings that impact the customer’s decision-making process – ultimately leading to a better overall experience, increased satisfaction and loyalty.
Below are some of the customer research strategies we use to Envision a successful project (and why we use them):
- Contextual Interviews: These one-on-one interviews can be structured, semi-structured or free-flowing, but the end result is to understand the subject’s existing mental model, vocabulary and behaviors. We do this by conducting the interview in a place or time that allows the subject to demonstrate or otherwise “show” the researcher what they use, how they do things, or actually perform the action.
- Intercepts: Intercepts offer a low-cost, yet unique opportunity to learn about real customer needs, attitudes, behaviors and perspectives within a natural context: a patient waiting room for healthcare; at a credit union branch, or on the floor of a manufacturing plant. Talking to customers in their purchasing or contextual environment can uncover honest, candid and valuable feedback – as well as real pitfalls and CX improvement opportunities.
- Surveys & Focus Groups: Surveys tend to be classified as quantitative research and the results can be conclusive, unlike a focus group. They also let you ask questions and measure just about anything–and can be as short as a single question to as long as several hundred questions. Focus groups are typically interactive group settings, held in a neutral place where your customers can feel comfortable – allowing for more in-depth customer feedback.
- Personas & Archetypes: A user persona is a qualitative tool that creates a fictional character that acts as an archetype to guide design and development. Often based on quantitative and ethnographic research inputs, a user persona brings the abstract concept of a targeted audience to life – with demographic, psychographic and technographic information as well as personal narrative elements that create a comprehensive picture of the user’s behaviors, environment, desires and needs. They are particularly helpful in the process of defining the underlying values and points of differentiation between market segments when developing new marketing messages. (Read “How to Find Value in Personas for Healthcare Marketing” – written by Matt Hummel, Paragon’s Chief Experience Officer and published in Strategic Healthcare Marketing Magazine.)
- Journey Mapping: Journey maps capture a customer’s experience with your organization (from their perspective) across a series of touch points to identify unmet needs and pain points, the emotional factors that influence decision-making, and opportunities to improve the customer experience. The complete customer experience isn’t comprised of a single touch point; rather, it’s a culmination of engagements and experiences throughout their journey. Our journey maps account for what your customer are doing, who influences them, what their thinking, how they’re feeling, their pain points and unmet opportunities.
While all of our client’s projects are unique, certain research tactics above (or a blend of tactics) may be most suitable. Regardless, the goal of customer research is to ultimately save you time and money in 5 distinct ways:
- Gain a competitive and strategic advantage by eliminating the guesswork to form a clear picture of who your customers are, what they love and don’t love, and why and how they make decisions.
- Identify new business opportunities and customer segments to deliver effective and targeted marketing campaigns.
- Maximize your technology investment by ensuring that you’re using the right technology to effectively deliver on your goals and engage customers.
- Optimize the customer experience by building internal alignment around your digital goals – while ensuring that the focus remains on the customer at all points in the service design.
- Increase brand loyalty by understanding and designing for conversion-optimization.
Whether infusing customer research and fail fast techniques into our human-centered design process, influencing which marketing automation tool we choose when building enterprise websites, or as the foundation for CX measurement post-launch to evolve our solutions – our customers recognize the value of our research-driven approach adds to their outcomes.