To many in the business world, the Market Research or Business / Competitive Intelligence process is just a bunch of numbers, analysis and reports. An executive will send a brief to the research firm and after commissioning will expect a report according to their specifications.
What is missing from this perspective is the impact of relationships, specifically that between the client and the research provider.
The Importance of Relationships
Research is a two-way street. A research firm could deliver the highest quality report tailored to its client’s specifications, but if there is a miscommunication or conflicting objectives, then such a report could be ineffectual.
Some research firms out there do not think about the clients’ needs, instead focusing the scope of the study through their own objectives. Even despite the potential quality of their reports, the client may well discount the findings and confirm his or her subconscious thought, “I knew this would happen.” Moreover, in the worst cases, some market research companies with factory-style client servicing and no centralized authority can take days, not hours, to respond to client questions and address client needs. This decreases the communication among client and research provider, and increases the risk of the client not receiving what he or she wants.
The solution: Develop strong partnerships.
In our experience, not only do we perceive the client-researcher relationship as such because we are an International Market Research firm which must cater to our clients’ cultural and economic background, but also we do so because it increases the usefulness of the final deliverable. It also translates into a better experience for the client and into higher customer loyalty.
While the relationship certainly does not need to be officially designated as such, the process of communication between a client and research firm should be conducted like a partnership.
Elements of an Effective Research Partnership:
- The fundamental element: Trust between both parties
- Disclosure of the needs and objectives from the client, in addition to the research brief
- Disclosure of what the research will be used for
• Researchers meticulously understanding these needs to develop and argue for the most effective research methodology, even if client is initially averse.
- Constructive follow-up after the completion of the study, to help guide subsequent studies
Potential Benefits for Clients:
1. A more effective investment and useful deliverable
2. Fewer opportunities for miscommunications during the research process.
3. Decreased anxiety & limited surprises
Potential Benefits for Research Firms:
1. Achieving the client’s trust, solidifying the chance that the client will follow the research firm’s recommendations
2. Increased customer loyalty
3. Enhanced efficiency given explicit knowledge of what the client wants; fewer surprises