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Going for Gold: How evidence-based research helps you achieve excellent customer experience

Martine Leroy|28th April 2015

What is evidence-based customer experience research?

Evidence-based customer experience research is about understanding, at a deep and human level, who your target customers are and how they want to achieve their goals, whether those be work based or personal, and their context. Evidence-based research is also used to evaluate the products and services created to support customers. Put simply, it’s a cycle of research that drives innovation, validates solutions, and informs iterative design. This process of using research to inform and evaluate solutions, from the development of strategy to the delivery of solutions will ensure you are meeting both customer and business needs.

Why should I use evidence-based customer experience research?

Using research to inform the process of solutions development is the first pillar of exceptional customer experience, and it’s how you set yourself apart as a brand and start influencing your customers’ behaviour, generating loyalty. When used together, the four variations of research, all with a different part to play, help to achieve excellent customer experience.

1. Market research

Market research puts your target market under a microscope – gathering information and generating thoughts using quantitative and qualitative methods. For example, conducting focus groups to get direct feedback from your target market. The goal of market research is to identify how your customers are currently behaving, what may influence their choices, and the pain points they experience. This type of research will help you to better shape a hypotheses about the market, your customers’ behaviour, and where opportunities to provide solutions may exist as you form your strategy.

2. Business research

Business research turns the microscope inward, looking at your business’s perspective and needs in order to develop a strategy on a particular solution that takes into consideration the higher-level strategy. It entails holding stakeholder interviews and workshops, understanding the competitor landscape, determining the Key Performance Indicators, and understanding how the business will measure the success of their solution. Business research will allow you to form an effective design strategy that progresses business objectives alongside customer requirements.

3. Customer research

Customer research uses qualitative research to gain deep insights on behaviour, motivation, triggers and barriers that will inform the identification of solutions to address customers’ requirements. Most of the insight gained is used to create journeys that depict what is happening, when, where and with whom. Insights from customer research are cross-checked with the objectives uncovered in business research to understand where there are opportunities that serve both customer and business needs.

When the customer population is geographically spread and varied, quantitative research is used to validate findings from qualitative research to ensure that we understand differences that may occur in different customer populations. Customer research is how you bring the customer’s needs into focus, clearly communicating and informing the design and development of solutions.

4. Validation and evaluation

This stage of evidence and performance-based research is combined with a number of design phases (moving from low fidelity to high fidelity design) to create an iterative evaluation and design process for the development of a product, service, or tool. Customer experience research and its resulting artefacts (e.g., personas, journeys and concepts) inform the early designs to improve the end product or service, and ensure that it continues to address business objectives and customer needs as the design evolves. This process is underpinned by the principles of customer-centred design and best practice evaluation methodology. This phase of research is where your hypothesis is tested against actual customer feedback and throughout design development to better guide your designs.

Conducting evidence-based customer research

Using a robust framework and methodology, we drive tangible improvements in customer experience. Our approach focuses on seven core areas:

1. Understanding the wider and deeper context of customer work, their needs, perceptions, experiences, behaviours and attitudes.

2. Understanding the objectives of the business and how they will measure success to ensure that the design also meets business objectives, and aligning them with customer needs.

3. Analysing qualitative customer data to create personas, experience maps, user journeys and mental models to document and share the world we uncover, informing design decisions.

4. Aligning goals to match customer aims with business objectives and values.

5. Innovating services to help clients validate high-risk concepts quickly and cost-effectively through collaborative workgroups, rapid prototyping and user validation.

6. Designing solutions from conceptual ideas through to the establishment of content and navigation structure, and then delivering through to interaction and visual design.

7. Iterative validation and evaluation throughout the design process to ensure that the solution meets the expectations of both the business and the customer.


If you’d like to learn more about evidence-based research and its four components, keep an eye out for the upcoming blog series from Head of CX Elisa Del Galdo and Head of Insights Martine Leroy, which will explore these topics in more detail.

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