My Company Wants to Control Customer Research from Global…What Now?

Increasingly often, we hear this complaint from our clients. Suddenly they are being kicked out of the loop when it comes to research projects. Global sources the projects and then fields them in local markets – sometimes without even telling or involving the affiliates. These projects can go through many layers of handling and management before a moderator and respondent(s) sit down in the same room. In a worst case scenario, this can look like a game of broken telephone, with muddied objectives and watered-down results. Yet some of our best clients seem to have learned a few tricks for still getting an optimal result. Here’s what they have shared with us:

  1. The researcher or product team at the local affiliate has built a strong relationship with their counterpart(s) at Global.
  2. They have specifically requested that if moderation is to be outsourced, one of their preferred local suppliers should be considered.
  3. Local researchers take time to get involved with the briefings themselves, so they can contribute home field tips that will make the project go more smoothly.
  4. Global requires that suppliers at the top of the research chain facilitate a dialogue between the local moderator or field service and the home town affiliate.
  5. Field Managers or Project Directors ensure that everyone can reach the right person to answer a question or deal with an issue in the fewest number of steps.

We’ve seen some tremendous results when our clients have taken these steps. First, the local researcher has a chance to shine in front of more senior head office personnel. Secondly, there is often an opportunity to adapt questionnaires and discussion guides to eliminate questions that have been answered, or add probes about specific local issues. Some of our customers have also been able to pay for a local “advance copy” of their report, rather than waiting for multi-country results to be analyzed – allowing for faster decision-making – while keeping the field costs as Global’s line item.

These approaches can allow a result that is “glocal” at its finest – perhaps one of them will work for you! We’re happy to discuss how you can make the most of your research budgets.

Always optimizing,

Megann and Steve

Grammy Said Everything Comes in Threes

SwitchRecently we were discussing Chip and Dan Heath’s Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. It’s a terrific book with some great insights into why rational arguments aren’t enough to get teams, families, businesses, or towns to go where they need to go. We don’t want to ruin the ending for you, but the Heath brothers break down the process into three critical components, all of which must be satisfied for the change to happen. Similarly, we’ve spoken many times with our clients about how, in order to adapt and grow, three parts of the organization must be modified: the strategy, the systems, and the structure. Product managers we know talk about successful products being dependent on people, products, and processes.

Why are these triumvirate models so logical, reasonable, and easy to understand? It’s because they’re all about metaphor. The best metaphor we know, came from a services marketing course Megann took at Queen’s University – it’s the three-legged stool. Whether your stool consists of a rider, and elephant and a path like the Heath brothers’ book, or whether it’s the triple-s organizational change model, or even the three p’s…people can easily grasp the idea that if you’re sitting on a three-legged stool, and one leg is broken, things aren’t going to turn out nicely.

So the next time you’re trying to make a change in your people, process, or product, we recommend you figure out what the three legs are, and make sure they’re all working in tandem.

Three-legged racing toward the finish line,

Megann and Steve