Business relationships—with customers, suppliers, or consumers at large—have many parallels with the dating world.
Note: This is the fourth article in a series of blog posts from our CEO & Founder, Matt Kleinschmit, exploring the principles of conversational research design. To get notified of new content from this series and for more best practices for market research and insight professionals, subscribe to our blog.
We all say we want romance—but often settle for something much more transactional. If you give me A, I’ll give you B—and then we will part and go our merry ways. In the dating world, you might call that a one-night stand.
Many brands have, for far too long, been content with just this—believing that there was a steady supply of customers around the corner, willing and able to fill up their dance card. But smart marketers now realize the importance of building meaningful, long-lasting relationships with consumers.
The feeling someone has towards a brand are feelings
In other words, we don’t have different feelings towards a company or a brand or a person; our feelings are our feelings. ‘I trust you or I don’t trust you,’; ‘I like you or I don’t like you,’; ‘I share your values or I don’t share your values.’ We don’t adjust our internal compass if it’s business.”
If brands want to build lasting bonds with customers—and not just have another one-night stand—Sinek says they must embody those human values, such as trust, cooperation and reliability, which are core to successful relationships. For insight professionals, that means moving beyond the age-old mentality of research being a “project”—with a defined beginning, middle and end—and instead create an ongoing conversation with consumers that fosters continuous, ongoing learning.
The good news is that, in the age of mobile messaging and mobile messaging-based notifications, it is easier than ever to maintain a relationship with customers—to be that “good date” that people want to engage with, over and over again. That’s been our approach at Reach3—connecting brands with consumers, via modern messaging platforms, not just once or twice but on an ongoing basis.
By creating these ongoing conversations at scale, our clients get instant access to consumer opinions, preferences and attitudes that fuel their business strategies.
A good example of how this works in practice is a research program we conducted with automaker Hyundai in late 2019. The company was testing a new service, called BotRide, that combined on-demand ride services with autonomous, self-driving vehicles.
As Elijah Kim, senior manager of market research at Hyundai, explained in a webinar with Reach3, the company realized that they didn’t know how this service would resonate with people because it was an all-new variation on the popular “Uber” ride-share model. They wanted to gather feedback and track attitudes and perceptions throughout the entire pilot program, including capturing in-depth customer experience (CX) data on the sign-up process, app usability and in-vehicle ride.
Using Reach3’s mobile messaging-based insight techniques, we were able to capture in-the-moment insights—both quantitative and qualitative, as well as rich contextual videos, photos and screen captures of elements that both delighted and frustrated consumers throughout the pilot. This included in-depth User Experience (UX) data on the online sign-up process and mobile app—with consumers walking us through their navigation of these digital touchpoints and identifying aspects that were confusing, counterintuitive or tension-inducing.
Then, we re-engaged with these same consumers during their rides. Using QR codes located on the back seat of BotRide vehicles, we triggered in-ride conversational surveys: by simply hovering a mobile camera over the code, users were able to provide instantaneous feedback. Hyundai captured a full perspective on the BotRide experience—everything from the quality of the ride, to safety perceptions, to how the pick-up and drop-off were perceived.
Finally, we engaged with riders for in-depth live interviews (via video) to further explore their BotRide experience—which Kim and her team at Hyundai were able to observe in real time.
Hyundai’s Kim says the company gained several important insights. First, the designated pick-up locations initially weren’t clear to riders using the app—but because of the instantaneous nature of the feedback, Hyundai was able to make in-the-moment improvements. BotRide also added more pick-up locations during the pilot, and tweaked the route and service options. By building an ongoing relationship with customers, Hyundai was able to get unique and actionable insights that a traditional post-experience survey—weeks or months after the experience actually happened—could never deliver.
One of the old adages in the insights world is that every good research question yields more questions. In the past, these questions would be shelved for another project—and researchers would move on to another consumer. But in this new world order where consumers are just a mobile notification away, each question represents an opportunity to re-engage and build upon your learnings, advance the conversation with customers, and develop an ongoing relationship with them along the way.
After all, we don’t walk into a romantic dinner telling our date: “We will break up in seven days, and never speak again.” And we shouldn’t approach modern consumer research methodologies that way either.