Analyze Product not just Marketing: VoC at X Change (Part 4)

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There are four areas from our Voice of Customer (VoC) discussion at X Change that I’m highlighting. In the first post, I wrote about a way to explore task accomplishment in more depth. In the second I outlined a method for using VoC to understand customer journeys. For the third, I described how VoC can be a super-efficient way to test creative strategies before investing in an expensive A/B or MVT test. Here, I discuss why it might make sense for digital analytics folks to spend a little more time measuring product not just website and marketing.

The overwhelming majority of use-cases for online VoC (including all the ones I’ve talked about so far) focus on measuring the impact, value, and performance of online marketing and online touchpoints. Well, that’s what we all do, right? But the most revealing and impactful part of the X Change discussion around VoC argued that this isn’t all we can or should do. There were some persuasive voices in the group arguing for the unique benefits of a product-focused VoC program.

Some of the hospitality and product companies in the group had teams specifically devoted to optimizing product-specific experiences. That’s great, and the typical work we do optimizing digital touchpoints is a part of that for many companies. But digital is also a terrific channel for data collection ABOUT the product experience and not just the digital touchpoint.

When we discussed this at our EY internal staff meeting, one of my team asked the very pertinent question – is this really digital analytics? The delivery vehicle for the VoC instrument may be digital, but the research is product and offline experience focused.

It’s a fair question. In its purest form (without any behavioral component), this really isn’t digital analytics at all.

But so what?

I’m not that interested in being a purist. What I see is that most of our enterprise clients don’t take advantage of digital as a channel to do the product research they should. Digital is a cheaper, more efficient, closer to real-time way to deploy product research to targeted audiences. These days, you can achieve better samples in digital than you can offline. You can target those samples more precisely. You can more easily engage people across time. You can change your survey and research methods with far less expense and you can do it quicker – allowing you to iterate research at a much faster pace. You can even deploy the collected information much faster and you can usually cross-tabulate with additional data about digital behaviors.

Even as digital has gotten better, faster and cheaper as a way to do product focused research, many traditional methods have become more expensive and less accurate. Just try getting a good sample on a phone survey these days. Just try! Mail, phone, even mall intercepts – all produce significantly more biased samples than they used to. Offline, it’s hard to get real samples even at focus group level sizes without significant incentivization and controlling those incentives is no picnic.

Owning and understanding the online VoC channel isn’t the same thing as owning and doing product research. But if you own the channel and your company isn’t taking advantage of it, maybe that’s an opportunity to consider.

Yes, product research in the digital channel is under-used just from a cost and efficiency standpoint. But part of what I find so appealing about this is more personal. Wouldn’t most of us welcome the chance to do more than just tune campaigns and marketing drives?

The opportunity to help make better products? Wouldn’t that be a refreshing change of pace!

[And speaking of Voice of Customer, Phil Kemelor is currently running our “State of the digital analytics enterprise” survey. We’re exploring a host of issues around how analytics is organized and what issues are dominating the digital analytics landscape. Please help us out (and get back some fascinating data) by taking the survey!]

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Gary Angel
Gary is the CEO of Digital Mortar. DM is the leading platform for in-store customer journey analytics. It provides near real-time reporting and analysis of how stores performed including full in-store funnel analysis, segmented customer journey analysis, staff evaluation and optimization, and compliance reporting. Prior to founding Digital Mortar, Gary led Ernst & Young's Digital Analytics practice. His previous company, Semphonic, was acquired by EY in 2013.

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