On July 5, 2017

Research Impact: 5 Steps to Better Business Outcomes for Marketers

Stakeholder insights are woven throughout a June 22, 2017 American Marketing Association St. Louis Chapter presentation by Jim Ruszala and Justin Gioia of Scottrade, Inc.

Ruszala and Gioia shared an organizational process they developed with colleagues across the organization to ensure that Scottrade’s marketing strategies and tactics lead to meaningful, measurable business outcomes.
They ask 5 questions to determine which current marketing tools or marketing directions (digital transformation, artificial intelligence, customer-centricity, experiential marketing, etc.) will truly yield better business outcomes and how. All 5 questions involve gathering either internal (organizational) or external (customer) insights, discussing them and determining as a cross-functional team who all serve Scottrade’s customers how to engage those current and prospective customers to improve key business metrics.
Here are the 5 steps for marketers and examples of research services our company has delivered as part of each by conducting customer service evaluation, customer journey mapping, message testing, UX (digital user experience or usability) testing, brand assessment, leadership measurement and employee engagement.

1. Frame the right problem to solve: through customer journey mapping, understand your customer’s pain points, what they most want to know about your services, how they want to communicate with you and what messages will meaningfully separate you from competitors. Then determine who in your company is involved with delivering each part of the customer journey—customer facing or back office or influencers. Ask them to brainstorm priorities.

2. Identify the customer champion: learn about your customers through focus groups with those who serve them through the phone center, online chat or problem-resolution processes. What windows on your customers do they have that can help anticipate the next needed service or what easy fixes will increase satisfaction measurably.

3. Validate perceptions of your customers: it’s not just the squeaky wheel that should get the grease. Customers who don’t complain may be silently taking their business elsewhere. Design random sample quantitative research that crosses the entire customer base, with appropriate incentives to boost response rate, and find out what all key segments think and do or don’t and why. Use this “report card” to set priorities for improvements and serve as a benchmark to be repeated after changes are made.

4. Engage with key stakeholders: internal stakeholders (the C Suite, major shareholders, all employees who deliver your brand experience, channel partners, your supply chain) and external stakeholders (elected officials, community influencers, referring professionals like lawyers and accountants) need to share their perspectives on the customer experience and what marketing actions will most improve brand awareness, reputation and selection.

5. Specify measures of success: what metrics are important, relevant and fair to evaluate the impact of your organization’s entire marketing effort and budget on overall business results? If we know what is important to customers, and internal stakeholders know how they each need to support customers in their experience, you can measure: growth in inquiries, prospects, customers and customer account sizes. Start with web site analytics, look at sales data and repeat that quantitative customer experience random sampling research across your customer base at least every 12-18 months.

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