Ever heard any of these?
- “Yes, we run a quarterly customer satisfaction (CSAT) and NPS survey, but I feel like we don’t really take any action based on it.”
- “Win/loss reporting, well yes, we do it, but I don’t think it’s very effective and I don’t think we do much in response to the data.”
- “Wow, we ran an amazing overall market study last year, but I can’t think of a single strategic change made as a result of the findings.”
What’s wrong here? Why are we going to the trouble of doing good market research, but not making any use of it?
Sure, sometimes it’s politics or change resistance or the ostrich effect.
But more often than not, in my experience, the reason is simple: timing. Companies know they should do this research. They know their peers do. They know it’s a best pratice. So they do it.
But it arrives asynchronously. Like the win/loss report that arrives the week after the ops review. Or the strategic analysis that arrives six months before the strategy offsite. Or the CSAT survey that arrives arrives mid-quarter.
When these deliverables arrive asynchronously, people do their best to read them. They share them on Slack or email and make a few interesting observations. But then they forget them. There is so much other data. And so much else to do.
How do we fix this? Simple. Fix the timing. If your company has a a quarterly business review (QBR) where next-quarter OKRs are discussed and assigned, then ensure the CSAT report arrives days before that meeting. Better yet, make the CSAT report review a standing item on the QBR agenda. Along with a review of the win/loss report. Time the annual state-of-the-market study so it arrives a week or two before the strategy offsite.
Don’t fight your company’s cadence. Instead, slide into it. Design the surveys to be actionable and time them so they can be. Work with your vendors to move to new timing. Otherwise, you’re spending $50K to dump a report into a drawer (or a PDF into a shared drive).
Market research doesn’t improve with age. Build it and time it appropriately, and you’ll find that it’s a lot more actionable than you might think.
For the second part of this series, see The Keys to Making Market Research Actionable, Part II.
(Expanded to two-part series on 2/14/23)