Doing more with less: How best-in-class research teams improve their efficiency and productivity

Doing more with less: How best-in-class research teams improve their efficiency and productivity
Note: This article is part of our Business Impact series, which explores how customer-centric companies unlock substantial value from market research. Read our previous articles to learn more about accelerating project timelines, saving millions of dollars in research costs and reducing product launch risks

As many companies aspire to become insight-driven businesses, there’s added pressure for research teams to deliver more value with smaller budgets. One way they can improve the return-on-investment the company gets from its market research spend is to become more efficient.

Research teams from top brands are responding to the belt-tightening challenge by streamlining their processes and taking advantage of technology. This enables them to shorten project timelines and scale how they distribute ongoing insight to the organization.

For research teams looking to get more bang for their buck, here a few best practices from leading brands.

Recognize when good enough is good enough

The saying “Don’t let great get in the way of good” can help you streamline your research and save time and money. Tyler Kettle, international insights program manager from Google and former research team lead at IBM, likes to call it “directional” research.

“Research teams need to educate themselves that for certain business decisions, traditional research projects—those that take five to eight weeks to field, for instance—may not be appropriate as stakeholders don’t always have that amount of time to wait for that decision,” he told us in a Q&A.

By using an insight community, IBM can quickly go out and get customer feedback within a week, or in some cases within two or three days. Kettle said having a community of deeply profiled customers enables the company to get a quick pulse on how B2B buyers think and feel and get a good directional read on buyer opinions and attitudes. This agile approach to research has enabled IBM to reduce project timelines by as much as 75%.

Leverage technology

To get insight that powers authentic campaigns, NASCAR put their fans and technology in the driver’s seat.

NASCAR, one of the most popular sports in the U.S., is doing more with its data, including helping partners measure the effectiveness of sponsorships. Norris Scott, vice president of analytics and insights at NASCAR, said the company’s award-winning insight community—the NASCAR Official Fan Council—is made up of more than 25,000 rabid fans that help stakeholders understand fan behaviors, likes and dislikes and attitudes. Ongoing feedback from the community helps NASCAR improve its content strategy and sometimes even the product on the track.

The community input enables NASCAR to rank fans’ most favorite drivers, and collect other data points, such as top 10 favorite drivers who are 25 years old or younger. NASCAR can even identify Jeff Gordon fans and track their consumption before and after his retirement. The company’s insight community is complemented by NASCAR’s Fan and Media Engagement Center, a social listening tool that measures social media conversation and tonality around NASCAR-related topics, events and promotions.

Together, these two technology platforms let NASCAR quickly and easily collect millions of actionable data points to create content and campaigns its fan base will find compelling and will want to engage with.

Build stronger customer relationships

Just like any good coffee shop, Keurig Canada has it regulars. So it only makes sense that the company engages the same group of customers throughout its product development cycle.

Because the company’s research team has an always-on community of customers that can provide feedback, they’re more productive and able to reduce their project timelines. Its Keurig Coffee Insiders Community enables stakeholders in the company to innovate faster without cannibalizing the brand’s existing market.

By involving its customers at every step of the innovation pipeline, Keurig Canada uncovers “golden nuggets of information” that translate into opportunities as well as prevent it from spending too much time and money on products its customers say will never fly.

Improve productivity and scalability in research

IBM, NASCAR and Keurig Canada are just three examples of many brands that have been able to up the efficiency of their research efforts by regularly engaging customers with an insight community.

As highlighted in The Total Economic Impact™ of Vision Critical, a Forrester study commissioned by Vision Critical, research teams that use our customer intelligence platform are able to deliver more insight to their company without increasing their budget. “One organization reported a 100x increase in survey completion rates with insight community,” the study reported. Another company that Forrester interviewed revealed that it increased its survey projects to 50 annually—a significant increase given it was running only six campaigns per year prior to Vision Critical.

As these examples show, using technology and an approach that builds customer relationships is crucial to research teams that are looking to demonstrate their value under right budgets. Ultimately, doing more with less shouldn’t require compromising your speed, budget or the quality of your insight.

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