In this day and age of ‘data’ and ‘insights’, empirical research has taken its rightful place in the pantheon of useful business tools. With that comes the potential for overusing the term to the point of diluting its meaning.
With that in mind, let’s examine two ways of talking about “research”:
THE SILLY WAY
– “Survey says …” – Richard Dawson, Family Feud host
– Prefacing any biased statement or personal belief with the phrase “research has shown that … ”
– You ask the librarian if they have a certain book available and she says “Let me research that for you” (meaning “I will go and check”)
– “4 out of 5 dentists recommend …”
THE MEANINGFUL WAY
– Empirical (primary) research in the context of business practices today (marketing research, user research, usability research, etc.) has its roots in the the philosophical traditions of Empiricism.
– The great Empiricist David Hume used his famous question “How do you know?” to examine claims about the world. This question ended up being know as the “empiricists’ wrecking ball”
– According to Hume, the only valid knowledge on how the world works comes through our senses and can be experienced and shared by individuals. For example, we know how cold it is outside by the shared sensation of our skin receptors and our visual perception of the thermometer reading.
– Empirical, or primary, research is based on the foundation described above
– There is a wrong way and a right way of doing empirical research
– Research done in Academia has provided the basic tools for research done in the business arena
– Practical research done for business purposes and basic research done in Academia are two very different ball games with different rules
– Academic research aims to build basic knowledge
– Business-related research aims to provide practical information to support business decisions
THREE KEY RESEARCH PRINCIPLES for Customer Experience research
– Research the end-to-end customer experience, all customer touch points (360 view)
– Research customer experience longitudinally, as it evolves through time (Lifetime Customer Value)
– Triangulate metrics to increase confidence in research findings