A Multi-Method Approach to Improving Customer Experience
How UX insights can help your business.
Customer experience has become a critical differentiator in today’s marketplace. There is distinct business value in analyzing, managing, and improving customer experience effectively; it provides strength in brand preferences, a boost in revenue, and an improvement in customer loyalty.
There are different ways of exploring and evaluating customer experience, and organizations shouldn’t feel restricted to using a single method type. Nor should they limit the ways in which findings can be used. In this blog we will look at the multi-method approach to analysis, focusing on the benefits this can bring in terms of enriching an organization’s profiling and understanding of the overall customer experience.
Understanding your ‘population of interest’
When conducting research into the customer experience, it’s important to recognize the customer as your ‘population of interest.’ Each piece of information gathered is an opportunity to learn more about and gain a greater understanding of that population.
For many organizations, customer-based research can be fragmented in its execution; individual teams (whether marketing or UX focused) will implement specific research methods to aggregate interesting pieces of data, which inform isolated perceptions of the customer. Instead of using these findings in isolation however, it’s far more valuable to pool the data. By doing so, organizations are able to create a more holistic picture. Research methods and the data they yield can be brought together to form a body of research which looks at how users interact with a product, as well as the cognitions and emotions they harbor towards a brand.
The importance of quality research design – adopting a multi-method approach
Quality research design leads to quality results. The type of research you drive needs to be approached in such a way that ensures methods are matched to the underlying hypothesis. Quantitative and qualitative research are the two main types of research, and many organizations tend to adopt an either/or mindset. Quite often however, especially for the types of questions being asked in the customer experience realm, a multi-method approach (one which combines qualitative and quantitative methods) is typically the best option, as it will produce more varied and richer data.
So, how should we tackle the task of matching methods to questions? In the first instance, it’s important to define a set of variables which can then be operationalized. For example, a company may have a question related to customer loyalty as their underlying hypothesis. The next step then would be to consider which variables are relevant. These could include:
- Satisfaction: How do you measure this? You could start by finding out what customers are saying, in which case customer feedback tools would be useful. You could also say that satisfaction can be measured via an NPS score. You could look at customer service call volume as an indicator, or maybe the number of repeat visitors to a website.
- Functionality: What are the ways of measuring the functionality of a particular design? You could assess the time taken to find an object and the success rate of finding an object, along with the open-ended feedback that customers provide.
Making use of a rich data pool
You’ve outlined your hypothesis, defined your variables and operationalized them with multiple research methods. What next?
Ideally, you should be able to use all the knowledge gained from customer research. All the testing (whether instigated by marketing or UX teams) generates feedback on product functionality, as well as insights into customer behavior. Ultimately, companies should look to combine all knowledge gained and distribute it to relevant product teams. Not only can it be used in future product development and refinement, it can prove invaluable for the continuous understanding of user mental models and customer needs.
When evaluating the customer experience, combining research methods relating to both customer insight and UX data can be extremely beneficial. Just remember, rather than completing user studies in isolation, view the study of your customer experience as a ‘program of research’ in which multiple studies are run across the entire organization to build a body of knowledge.
A picture is worth a thousand keywords – or was it the other way round?