What’s Positive, Real-World, and Actionable In Customer Experience and Brand Research


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This is a statement, and not a question. It is a partial response to Steven Walden’s blog about what’s wrong with quantitative marketing research: http://www.customerthink.com/blog/the_10_things_wrong_with_quantitative_research_things_your_insights_department_and_academics_wo

My perspective is that there are some truths in the content he presents, but there are also differing points of view on what works and what doesn’t. Namely, the bottom-line objective of most research, especially brand equity and customer experience research, should be to help optimize (through actionability) an enterprise’s, product’s, or service’s strategically differentiated value proposition. And, in reviewing many business-to-consumer and business-to-business customer experience questionnaires and reports over the years, some researchers and some studies, to their detriment, miss the forest for the trees; and there can also be a tendency to miss the story line and ‘boil the ocean’. Most quantitative customer experience research, however, contributes effectively to enterprise marketing resource allocation.

To a degree representing my many research colleagues around the world, I offer several examples of what those of us responsible for well-designed, contemporary quantitative customer experience studies get right:

1. We understand that consumer decision-making is not, and has never been, linear; and, for both b2b and b2c, has always been about both the functional and emotional: http://www.customerthink.com/blog/cultivating_advocacy_behavior_by_makin… http://www.customerthink.com/blog/the_new_real_world_dynamics_of_brand_a…

2. We understand that such metrics as are applied must reflect the real-world of informal communication and influence: http://www.customerthink.com/article/customer_advocacy_behavior_personal…

3. We understand that to equate causation with correlation is folly: http://www.customerthink.com/blog/correlation_is_not_causation_big_data_…

4. We understand that total experience is key to value perception and loyalty behavior, but there are also significant, leveraging, components of the experience: http://www.customerthink.com/blog/creating_advocacy_and_building_relatio… http://www.customerthink.com/blog/total_experience_the_rosetta_stone_of_…

In my response, I also noted that there is little doubt that the world of qualitative and quantitative market, brand positioning and messaging, and customer experience research has been changing. It was Pasteur who said “Chance favors the prepared mind”, and prepared researchers will have less chance to be caught off-guard by the array of challenges Walden cited: http://www.customerthink.com/blog/gathering_and_leveraging_customer_deci…. To a

Ending with what should be regarded as a key point in his piece: Most customer experience research models, indeed most research studies, tend to back-cast rather than help forecast behavior (through simulation), but models based on how decisions are really made can generate research results and insights that are considerably more predictive, more relevant, and more monetizing: http://www.customerthink.com/blog/modeling_customer_behavior_what_works_…

Michael Lowenstein, PhD CMC
Michael Lowenstein, PhD CMC, specializes in customer and employee experience research/strategy consulting, and brand, customer, and employee commitment and advocacy behavior research, consulting, and training. He has authored seven stakeholder-centric strategy books and 400+ articles, white papers and blogs. In 2018, he was named to CustomerThink's Hall of Fame.


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