Seeing the Truth of Customer Research

Customer research is very important, you really need to know your customers needs and what they are thinking.  However if the research isn’t correctly executed it can have a negative effect.

Even the big guys can make this mistake.  Last week Walmart confessed to it’s massive $1.85 billon dollar customer experience mistake.

Basically Walmart, despite it’s size and expertise seems to have forgotten one of the basic premises of customer experience or service design

Listen to what your customers tell you but only act on what they do.

Walmart revised its long term strategy based on a series of customer surveys.

Now through out the user experience community it is well known using surveys and focus groups  by themselves is dangerous.

This is because  surveys and focus groups only really  allow customers to disclose what they can easily verbalise.  And as is often the case what is easy to talk about may not be the key issue.   The important information, will and does,  remain hidden from research, unless an observational method is used.

It’s really is amazing, but this relying on what customers tell you is a simple mistake that businesses all over the world make time and time again.

The way around this issue is simple – don’t  rely on one type of research.

Sure surveys are a good source of information, but you have to supplement them.  Analyse  any survey information along with observation research methods such as web analytics, user testing, card sorting or ethnographic studies.

Hence any business looking at customer research should consider designing and balancing the research they are going to conduct or just hire a customer experience professional.