Do You Know the Difference Between Market Research and Customer Insight?

Let’s start with some basic definitions:

Market research is an organised and systematic effort to gather information about customers or markets. It is a key component of any business strategy and provides information about market needs, market sizes, competitors and customers. It tends to be factual and statistic based. It is the “WHAT” of customers and markets.

Customer insight is information that enables a company to determine why their customers behave how they do with regard to their brand. Armed with this information, organisations are able to use insight to affect purchase behaviour. It is the “WHY” of customers and brands.

How do CUSTOMER INSIGHTS work in practice?

One of Feedback Ferret’s automotive clients undertakes regular customer surveys with their Service clients and was keen to dig deeper into the reasons behind the lower Net Promoter Scores (NPS). By diving deep into the survey results, Feedback Ferret found that surveys containing comments about “oil change” were often from customers very ready to defect from either the brand or dealer, and the customer’s propensity to recommend the dealer.

So why was this? Further insight was required. Digging deeper into the verbatim comments revealed the following issues:

– Unreasonable wait times
– Appointment times were not always honoured
– The oil change was too expensive
– Customers were being quoted one price but being charged another
– The details of the service were poorly explained or not explained at all
– Upselling was putting customers off
– Services have not been performed correctly
– The car was not washed as promised

As a result of this customer insight and analysis, we made the following recommendations:

– Commence work at scheduled appointment time
– Manage customer expectations when services cannot be completed in timely manner… Tell them!
– Charge only quoted service price, unless customer is informed and consents to additional services and costs
– Explain services upon returning vehicle to customer
– Recommend additional services tactfully
– Provide all services requested in timely manner
– Perform work correctly, the first time
– Wash the car if promised/complimentary by dealer or requested by customer
– Honestly advise on upcoming necessary, high priority maintenance needs
– Evaluate high prices for routine maintenance services

This is real customer insight, not market research. And it’s insight that, if acted upon, can really make a difference to the customer experience.

Here are some more differences between research and insight – all food for thought:

– There is plenty of research out there. There is much less actionable insight.
– Research delivers facts, knowledge and statistics. Insight delivers this as well, but also delivers an additional layer of recommended actions that can help improve the bottom line.
– Research departments deliver to the marketing function. Insight departments work in partnership with the marketing function.
– Research departments deliver data and statistics. Insight departments deliver data plus narrative.
– Insights are more sought-after and prolific in Anglo and American markets, less so in Europe. Translation challenges of narratives appear to be the main obstacles (although here at Feedback Ferret, we are able to manage this very successfully).

In conclusion, research tells us WHAT is happening – whereas insight tells us WHY it is happening. More importantly, insight helps us understand what to do about it to increase customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and help boost the bottom line.

Both are equally important elements of any business but, if we are to create solutions to problems, we need deeper and more actionable insight.

Author: Sonia Sparkes, Sales Operations Manager, Feedback Ferret