Customers often think they have one question they want answered, but then it leads to several more down the road. This can be frustrating for researchers, but this is exactly why market researchers are hired: to help guide the process and define objectives for a project.
Below are three tactics to employ when you’re working with a customer to define clear research objectives. These tactics will help customers stay on track and keep objectives tied to the original research purpose. Plus, customers will realize they are getting value when the project closes and they have their true research questions answered.
1. Ask your customers to explain
As researchers, it’s not often easy to admit that we do not know everything about a customer’s particular business. After all, we’re supposed to be hired as the “experts.” But regardless of what you do know—or don’t know—as your customers to explain it to you. As a lot of questions. If you feel like you know everything, pretend that you don’t.
Why? You should be focused early in the research process to learn as much as possible about the specific business of your customers, even if it means you have to claim we do not get it. You’ll often receive much more information, and a lot more details this way. Your customers will be inclined to over share when you admit that you don’t know everything, and that you may even feel silly about it, and could they please help explain.
This will also lead to a “wow” factor during the final presentation. They’ll realize the ideas they shared with you were deeply understood and incorporated into the final analysis and conclusions, allowing them to be a part of the research process from the beginning.
2. Provide an overview of your research process
You’re hired as a research consultant for your expertise in answering challenging business questions. Prove your expertise by walking customers through your research process in its entirety. Never assume a customer should understand what a meaningful research objective is. Explain the research process that you plan to go through. Specifically focus on the defined way by which you will go about understanding exactly what the research needs are of the organization you are consulting for.
This is a topic that is easy to go overboard on. Be sure that the size of the research talk is appropriate for the group you’re working with, and that the time you plan for it is appropriate for overall amount of time you have set aside.
3. Over deliver to fully engage with your client
When working with clients, take the time to think about the end result and how you want to deliver and present your findings. For example: If you are doing a qualitative study and seeking to deeply understand the emotions involved in a certain stage of the customer experience, why not also take the time to analyze the emotions involved in the research and business decisions?
Why? Going above and beyond to paint the full picture allows you to explain things in a way that they will be easily understood. It creates more empathy and makes what you deliver (a presentation or report) engaging for your client. It will allow them to full grasp and appreciate your work and the findings, also making it clear to them the value you’re delivering as a research consultant.