Michelle Mckinley is the senior director of growth marketing at CareerArc, a team that offers technology-based social recruiting and outplacement...
When it comes to running a business, you should always pay attention to market research. Market research is the useful practice of really scrutinizing and analyzing customer feedback. Also known as customer feedback analysis, market research is useful for fine tuning your business to what your customers want and need. For B2B businesses, this information is extra useful. Due to the small B2B customer pool, modifying your business based on market research is a smart and effective move.
Keep in mind that everyday we get feedback from our customers. Unfortunately, that feedback is rarely received, analyzed and channeled into a productive outlet. Instead, we often hear the feedback and react. Qualitative data analysis and customer feedback are one in the same for most service oriented businesses. Through customer feedback analysis you are performing the most important qualitative data analysis: understanding your consumer.
Understanding Qualitative Data Analysis as Customer Feedback Analysis
So, what exactly is qualitative data analysis? As we’ve already mentioned, we’re using it interchangeably with customer feedback analysis. On its own, though, qualitative data analysis can be broken down into two definitions:
- Qualitative Data: Qualitative data is data that is not easily reduced to simple numbers. It is often related to concepts and opinions, as well as values and behaviors. In short, qualitative data is the gathering of the different types of behaviors seen in people in a social context. Usually to separate qualitative data, transcripts are used. These transcripts are often of single interviews, focus groups, field notes, and video/audio recordings.
- Analysis: The analysis part of qualitative data analysis refers to taking all the above factors and studying them. The analysis refers to the processes involved that help explain and interpret the data collected. The goal of analysis is to come to a meaningful and symbolic conclusion. For B2B marketers, this translates to finding the best way to turn the data into new marketing strategies that benefit customers.
These definitions come from medical researcher Tilahun Nigatu Haregu, and are included in his study, which you can find here. Though Haregu’s work is more medically minded, the definitions of qualitative data analysis are still relevant, useful, and applicable to B2B marketing.
When running through the actual process of qualitative data analysis, one will do the following steps:
- Organize Your Data: Transcribe, translate, and label your data.
- Identify the Framework: Read the data from the point of view of your research question, and the point of view the data itself.
- Sort Your Data into That Framework: Enter the data and modify it so that it fits the framework.
- Use your framework for a Descriptive Analysis: Look for an identify themes as well as think of response categories. For example, if customers are consistently unhappy with your customer service, think about how you can respond and improve it.
- Second Order the Analysis: Once you’ve identified themes and patterns, create a hypothesis. For example: “if we make a point to reply within 2-5 days for all customer queries, it might boost customer satisfaction. Once you have you hypothesis, test it.
There are some useful tools out there to help you organize your qualitative data so that it can be analyzed. Excel is one of the more useful programs because you can visually lay out the data in an easy to understand fashion. If you want something a little more advanced than Excel, however, you can check out this comprehensive list. Here you’ll find all the best and most up to date tools to help with qualitative data analysis.
Qualitative Data Analysis to Help You Understand the B2B Marketplace
When it comes to the B2B marketplace, qualitative data analysis can be helpful in understanding how things work. As the B2B market is highly specialized, so is the market research. The marketers conducting research tend to capture extremely detailed customer feedback. They gather buyer feedback from different sources and methods of triangulation. From this, market researchers can glean the following information:
- Why buyers might be reluctant to purchase from certain vendors
- Which areas of strength to capitalize on for better B2B relations and conversions
- What B2B competitors are doing and how they can impact your company long term
Here is where qualitative data analysis is most equal to customer feedback analysis. In the B2B market, paying attention to customer data can translate directly to improving the company. This feedback is more detailed and focused than B2C customer feedback. Due to this, the customer feedback analysis is more streamlined to bettering concrete aspects of the company.
For more information on B2B Qualitative Data (vs Quantitative Data), you can download this ebook from Primary Intelligence.
A 2-Step Process for Utilizing Customer Feedback and Performing Qualitative Data Analysis
Below we’ve drafted a pretty straightforward two step process for using customer feedback to perform qualitative data analysis. We hope it will help B2B marketers and market researchers get the ball rolling.
Step 1: Implement an Employee Reporting Process
When you are running operations it is easy to become separated from your customer. Fortunately, there are people on your team who directly communicate with your customers. These individuals need a way to transfer their knowledge of the customer into your customer relationship management (CRM) and operational process.
For our operations, we like to use Trello. It is simple yet allows for note taking and complete integration across our devices. The way it works is that when a customer provides feedback, we are able to input it into our CRM/Operations board immediately. The feedback makes its way to our mobile devices or tablets directly. Every team member is notified when this happens, so no one is gets left out of the loop. We combine these because we believe that our customers are our operations and their insight is as important as our own.
*Create a tag in Trello or in your collection process of choice so that you can easily filter and analyze your customer feedback
Step 2: Perform Qualitative Data Analysis
Now that you have collected customer feedback, it is essential to begin the qualitative data analysis process. When done well, you will be able to correctly analyze and respond to the feedback.
First, separate your feedback into three categories: positive, negative, and neutral. Next, read through the negative feedback and look for trends. Is more than one customer saying the same thing? If so, it could be important and worth more focus.
Next, go through the neutral feedback. A hidden gem often occurs here. While most responses appear fairly generic, be sure to look once again for trends. Open up your creative channels. See if there might be a second degree of separation between what they are saying and what you can do.
Finally, perform your qualitative data analysis upon your positive feedback. What do your customers love? Organize it in hierarchical manner. After you have identified their greatest affinities, it is time to implement them.
Performing qualitative data analysis of your customer feedback is a sure way to help your B2B company improve. Many companies go on without really listening to their customers. They have a routine that they like and they stick with it. While bigger B2C companies might be able to get away with this, B2B companies should never attempt it. Listening to your customers and implementing their feedback is always the best option. Buyers know what is working and what isn’t. If you heed their feedback and change things accordingly, it shows loyalty to your customer. Incidentally, it shows customers that they can be loyal to you. So long as you stay focused, categorize, and run through customer feedback with a fine-toothed comb, positive change will come.
Always be thinking about how you can highlight your strengths. Conversely, think about how to turn your weaknesses into a positive. If you are able to listen and react, company growth will be inevitable. Positive growth and change is always the child of your qualitative data analysis of customer feedback. Be sure to nurture this child as you would any other. Over time, you will see it grow into something wonderful.