Our recent Roundtable was a discussion with clients on how to identify a strategic need that research can solve, how to get the most out of your strategic partners to craft the right insights, and how to integrate insights throughout an organization successfully. In this excerpt, read perspectives from Chris Kachel, Senior Director of Customer Experience at LendingTree.
Q: How do you use research for strategic needs?
A: We use research at both a high-level and low-level. At the high level, we are really in a period of just massively increasing personalization and massively improving customer experiences across our entire industry. And so we really are just in a strategic position right now where we have to understand our customers better than we’ve ever understood them before and then serve them personalized and tailored experiences to help them accomplish their goals. So doing research is where that all begins. If we’re going to do what customers need us to do, we really have to understand deeply and precisely what they need us to do and then understand how to best do that for them.
We always ask: What are they missing? What gaps are they experiencing in service? So we have a great desire and a great focus to continuously understand our customers better and understand how to serve them better.
If we’re going to do what customers need us to do, we really have to understand deeply and precisely what they need us to do and then understand how to best do that for them.”
Q: What are the signs from stakeholders that primary research is the right solution?
A: If there’s a long product cycle to launch something, then talking to customers does a lot to just reduce the risk of failure. This can really inform every step of that development process from ideation through execution. We believe as a company that that’s the best way to ensure we’re going to be successful. It takes the guesswork out.
When we are having a lot of conversations about what we might build, what customers might want, and when we start hearing a lot of misalignment and a lot of different perspectives on what customers may build, that’s a great signal to go and talk to customers.
Q: What makes a partnership with a research firm successful in your mind?
A: One, obviously the ability to do great research is important. The second piece is the ability to deliver research that can activate the insights. We look for partners that understand our space, understand the customers in our space, and have some perspective and background on what sort of things our customers are looking for. Just bringing that wealth of experience and expertise in both the financial space and also in digital marketing space is important.
Q: What works and doesn’t work when it comes to leveraging research?
A: It starts with making sure that any research that we’re doing is closely aligned with a defined company goal that we have. That is going to make the entire process a little easier because whenever we get questions about why we are doing this research project, we can point back and refocus on that company goal. So for us, it, it really starts there.
And then we go through the project with our key stakeholders and give them a sense of ownership and participation so that their voices are being heard throughout this. Letting the key stakeholders who are going to need to actually use the research, and bringing them into the entire process, is really critical for us to make sure that the research is as good as possible and as actionable as possible. We’re also trying to get better as a company and team at being more structured and more process oriented around the ideation sessions that come out of the research.
Letting the key stakeholders who are going to need to actually use the research, and bringing them into the entire process, is really critical for us to make sure that the research is as good as possible and as actionable as possible.”
Q: How do you secure more funding for research on critical questions?
A: At LendingTree right now, we are really pushing on this idea of transforming in our ability to do customer jobs for them. And so very fortunately for us right now, we’ve got a lot of very senior leaders who are advocates and supporting for our approach. Our goals are pretty tied towards understanding customers, which has made our lives a heck of a lot easier right now.
Before we were in this better alignment position that we’re in now, the approach was to be really intentional and smart about which project you’re trying to do and get the best possible results out of those. And, you know, when you can show a win with one project, it’s easier to ask for more money next year, more money next quarter, or whatever your budgeting cycle is. We’ve always found that to be true.
See Webinars for a complete recording of the Roundtable.