This is the first post in my Customer Research series.
I will start with a discussion on why I do qualitative research. Some companies place a disproportionate amount of trust upon quantitative, statistically significant results presented in analyst reports. Anything involving a handful of research subjects is viewed with deep suspicion. Insights that their own product teams bring back from the field are dismissed as anecdotal, and the knowledge is not used for decision making.
In my opinion, this suspicion is dangerously misplaced. Numbers are sterile. They are necessary; any moderately skilled product person would stay on top of market sizing reports and industry trends by following analyst reports. However, that provides only a sliver of the knowledge needed to design the right products.
Qualitative techniques allow us to probe deep into personas, needs and wants, use cases, habits and practices and so forth with a small sample size. We step into the customers’ shoes and get a taste of their motivations, problems they encounter, and what they may be trying to achieve with a current or future product, in their environment with a workflow that works for them. This, coupled with quantitative research, is what drives great product development. It is incredibly time consuming, but if you plan and execute it properly, every minute is worth the work.
Please join the conversation if you are a product person – I would love to hear what you think.