It makes sense, doesn’t it? Having everyone in a business feel responsibility for customer experience (CX) means better insights and more of them, improved products, and the kind of brand equity that only comes when a company consistently gets things right the first time.
Once, customer research was limited to a few individual specialists or a department. Then the digital age happened. Growing consumer power unleashed by the internet and mobile devices means mere customer satisfaction is no longer good enough. Businesses must connect with buyers on an emotional level and deliver not just a terrific product but a delightful experience across every channel, at every stage of the purchasing journey.
Make everyone a stakeholder
The reality is that to compete in this environment, companies need to help everyone in their organization more deeply empathize with what customers are experiencing when they engage with the brand.
An organization with a healthy CX ecosystem has established a shared, scalable practice across the entire customer experience with all business goals centered around the customer. Each team, department, and individual is a vital element to the overall success of this customer-centered ecosystem.
What’s not so easy or clear is how to scale customer research efforts. How can companies get feedback from customers on a regular cadence, share that insight across the organization and reach a shared understanding?
Even the term “research” can intimidate teams that aren’t intimately familiar with customer research. That means that most teams unfamiliar with or even resistant to conducting their own research will need guidance and support to get them to buy into the everyone-is-responsible-for-customer-experience mentality.
A number of useful tactics can help non-researchers feel more like CX stakeholders: show and tells where researchers frequently share results with others across the company, training that pairs non-researchers with experienced researchers, viewing parties of customer feedback videos, and Slack channels to socialize the latest a-ha moments.
Easy ways to embed customer research throughout the organization
It also helps to drill down into specifically how customer research can be scaled across different teams. Here are some tips:
Design sprints are one of the fastest ways to help design teams answer critical business questions using design thinking and customer validation. When teams incorporate on-demand customer research during sprints, they can quickly gather valuable insights that inform design decisions while helping expose a team to design thinking and rally an entire organization around the customer.
In the weeks before you run the sprint, set the stage by running tests with target customers to learn more about their needs. During design sprint week, validate the prototype or concepts with target customers. Then, finally, take the idea from prototype to working code by gathering insights from customers as you iterate and build.
Research teams are naturally positioned to embrace customer research but scaling it takes a few extra steps. They can have the most impact by teaming up with other disciplines to help uncover the most interesting and impactful challenges to explore.
Because research teams are experienced researchers, they’re in the unique position to conduct more in-depth customer research and then share their methodology for others within the organization to adopt.
For example, research teams can help other teams adopt customer research as part of their regular process by helping them: know which research method to use, how to access existing data, and how to recruit participants, get feedback and analyze the results.
Product managers are dually tasked with delighting customers but also growing the business. Product decisions need buy-in from key stakeholders, and they need to be made faster than ever before.
Embedding regular customer research drives and informs product discovery and validation, helping teams make decisions quickly and confidently.
Marketers can leverage customer research to validate a huge array of marketing content — everything from commercials to images to email messages.
It can also help you get inside the heads of customers on a wide variety of topics. Everyone from the social media manager to the direct mail team should be listening to customers to understand what’s relevant to them. That’s a fast path to empathy with customers.
Customer experience ownership is everyone's job
Scaling customer insight gathering across an organization is often just a matter of helping everyone across departments understand its value. An aggressive and systematic approach to this challenge is the best way to instill the everyone-owns-customer experience culture needed in the digital world.
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Janelle is UserTesting's Chief Insights Officer and an expert research practitioner fascinated by human behavior and intrigued by data insight. She brings over 15 years of experience conducting large-scale customer research initiatives with both B2C and B2B companies across a variety of industries to help them transform their customer, user, and brand experiences.