I remember people saying, “let the actions speak for themselves.” That makes sense to a degree, but what if the right people don’t see the actions? Or they aren’t interpreting them correctly? That’s why communicating results does matter. The same holds for our customer research and understanding. If nobody else in the company uses it, what’s the point?
“I come at this from two prongs,” said Hannah Shamji, a customer research consultant, on “Reel Talk: The Customer Insights Show.” “One, the rigor of the research. And then two, can we use this? So it’s not just sitting somewhere, and it’s being communicated and useful.”
In this article, I discuss:
- The dangers of not communicating well
- How communication helps with implementation
- Communication at the beginning of a project
- The shift to learning
- 4 steps to communicating better
The risks of not sharing results well
There’s a real danger of leaders, stakeholders, and others not understanding the value of the research when communication is lacking.
“Communicating results is this whole thing, and if you can’t, you end up being this silo of knowing stuff, but nobody else knows it,” Hannah said. “How far can that insight go?”
Sometimes communication issues happen because data isn’t centralized, which can occur for several reasons, including old workflows, gatekeepers, and less-than-optimal communication.
If collaboration and communication don’t happen, that can lead to tension and even competing resources, Hannah explained.
“Your time isn’t well-spent,” she said. “The siloed information is so detrimental. That can send you to do a lot more work than you need to do.”
How communicating results helps with implementation
Jenn Vogel, SVP of marketing at Voxpopme, said on a guest podcast appearance that speed in research is ever more critical. But, that has to go beyond doing the research fast. Decisions also need to be made, and actions need to be taken.
“Research happens a lot more quickly in marketing, but the implementation isn’t as robust,” Hannah said. “So people might do all of this research, but then it’s not used or just lives in everyone’s heads.”
She added there’s a push to do the research quickly but perhaps not doing it with the proper rigor – especially once the research part is complete.
Communicating results in a meaningful way can help here as well.
Communicating results start at the beginning.
Hannah mentioned that it all comes down to the goal. For example, some teams have the purpose of talking to customers. But that shouldn’t be the goal, she said.
“That can feel like that’s the goal, but it’s not the goal,” Hannah said. “The goal is what you learn from that. What you do with it.”
Read nexts: 7 steps to conduct research successfully
“It’s not just about talking to your customer, but what do you want to do?” Hannah said. “Where are the gaps in what you know and don’t know?”
Hannah said that talking to the customer is a step in the insights collection.
“It’s all about outcomes, and can we make sure this research is useful?” she said. “Because if it isn’t, all that time is just wasted.”
Also, before starting, consider and be clear about:
- Where the research will be housed
- What decisions are we trying to make from it
- The way it will be shared with others
Some companies can struggle with communicating results because they are looking for tangible goals like these:
- Talk to this many customers
- Get this many responses
Hannah said that sharing meaningful insights with others in a company is way more challenging to measure.
“I think what happens is we go for those quick wins – ‘let’s talk to customers,'” Hannah added.
The shift to learning
Communicating results becomes more manageable when the team makes a shift from task goals to learning goals. So, what can we learn from this project?
“Suddenly, when you make that shift to learning, it’s about everyone learning,” Hannah said. “Even questions like ‘who should be involved’ and ‘when do we need research?’ are needed. When those questions aren’t addressed, you won’t have a plan for after the fact.”
4 steps to communicating results better
Hannah said she follows four steps to ensure a project is on the right track.
- Do we need research?
- What kind of research is needed?
- Who are the participants?
- What results are we looking for?
- How will it be reported?
“You want to have some kind of boundary around the research,” Hannah said, adding that the scope can creep broader and broader when boundaries don’t exist. “It can just explode if you don’t have some boundary to it.”
Hannah said that the more specific the planning is, the sharper your questions will be. So it’s essential to hone in on particular things and not pile on everything you potentially could ask.
Brian Monschein, vice president of research at Voxpopme, says this stage is critical because, like “any great meal needs a recipe to follow, so does research.”
“Think of your research project brief as your recipe for success,” Brian said on an episode of BRIght Ideas. “And trust me, even though it’s a little bit of extra work, you will be glad we did it.”
Brian recommends including:
- How did the project come up?
- Who is asking for it?
- What do we already know about this business question?
- An overview
- How will you be using this information?
Sometimes, you can uncover questions in this step that you already know the answers to. That means that no new study has to be run, and the budget can be used for another project, Brian said.
After you determine the best methodology, go ahead and reach out to the target audience to conduct the research.
In this stage, it’s also good to collaborate with others internally on what is being discovered so far. Are several people hearing the same consumer trends, for example?
Look at the core findings and how they tie back to the thesis.
“There are the core patterns, core pain points, and it might be ‘hey, we thought it was mostly this segment our product was relevant for,’ but we found that it’s also relevant for this other segment,” Hannah said. “You can collect all this data, but you want to look at the bigger story.”
Socializing the data
When you socialize the data, keep in mind your audience. For example, the chief financial officer likely wants different information than a front-line sales rep. A demand gen marketer probably would want different details than a content marketer.
“There are more important nuances to one category or another,” Hannah said. “Understanding those nuances will help you prepare differently.”
Also, consider the best channels to communicate.
“We talk to each other across multiple verticals and we share that information widely,” she said. “We also have different channels for different things. Having that two-way conversation can be very helpful. ”
Determine what will get the story across the best and what materials do different stakeholders need?
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