Advice from a Researcher on How to Make Research Your Business’s Superpower
By: Kirsten Lee Hill, PHD.
When I talk to people about research, the first thing I notice is that almost everyone is doing research–they just don’t call it that.
Put simply, research is creating an intentional plan to answer a question you have, and then putting it into action. As a business owner, I’m willing to bet that you have questions you would like answered. Questions like:
How are people experiencing my products/services?
Does my product/service work?
How can I improve my product/service?
On a daily basis as you continue to run your business and make decisions about growing or pivoting, you are using information to answer these types of questions. Every time you ask a customer for feedback, send out a poll, or look at records to make decisions about products or services–that’s research!
The quality of the information you get is only as good as the quality of the questions you ask. The key to good research is asking good questions, and crafting good questions is both an art and a science.
To create a good question, you have to get specific about what it is you want to know.
Have you ever asked a client or customer if they are “satisfied?” Or, has anyone ever asked you if you are “satisfied” with their product or service?
Personally, it is my least favorite question, and one that I never ask.
Here’s the thing–I never ask if someone is satisfied because I don’t care. Not asking is strategic. To me, that question is a waste of space (and my clients’ goodwill), and I want to use space and goodwill on important questions that matter to me. Big, vague words like “satisfaction” are not helpful in evaluating my work or making decisions.
What does it even mean to be satisfied?
In some sense it means that I generally did a good job or a bad job. But, I don’t make decisions based on ambiguous terms. I want specific insights to drive my business.
Specific insights come from specific questions.
So, instead of asking if someone is “satisfied” for if they “liked” your product/service, choose an area(s) of feedback that would provide meaningful information. Perhaps you want to know if your product was useful, made something easier, or fun. If you’re selling a new shirt and people say they hate it, that’s not helpful. Instead, ask specific questions about the color, fit, and fabric so that you can take action on the feedback.
Questions are powerful tools that can provide you with information to make important decisions. Don’t waste them.
To learn more about Kirsten Lee Hill, visit her website.