A Large Portion of Employees Went Remote in 2020
The year 2020 saw a huge spike in remote work following the outbreak of COVID-19 in March. An estimated 42% of the US labor force switched from their traditional work schedules to working from home full-time as the pandemic surged on.
While the switch may be temporary for some, one study indicates this sudden change will have lasting impacts on where and how people work. A predicted 16% of employees, if not more, will continue working remotely long after the pandemic is behind us.
Working from home has no doubt disrupted most employees’ daily lives and workflows, however, it's also worth noting how this new remote workforce can benefit your business. More specifically, the positive impacts our “new normal” can have on your customer research efforts.
What is Customer Research?
Customer research is all about seeing into the minds of your customers throughout every stage of their journey with your organization. When talking about customer research, three of the programs we most commonly conduct are: Customer Experience, Win/Loss Analysis, and Churn Analysis. Each one of these can benefit from the new remote workforce, as each one suffers from the traditional challenges mentioned below.
The Traditional Challenges of Customer Research
Performing these three types of customer research doesn’t come without challenges. There’s a reason the industry standard for conversion rates hangs just around 30%. That is, out of every hundred contacts you attempt to engage in interviews or surveys, only about 30 will participate! While there are many reasons people may choose to accept or decline an invitation to be part of your research, the bottom line is, people are busy.
More often than not, your customers are not sitting at their desks waiting to tell you what they think of your business. Whether they are in and out of meetings all day, traveling for work, commuting to and from the office, or just plain busy with their daily duties, it can be hard to catch them for a moment of discussion.
At least, that used to be the case…
With the surge of newly-remote employees, this is one aspect of change working in your favor when it comes to research.
How a Remote Workforce Makes It Easier to Conduct Research
For many reasons, remote work means people are “at work” for more hours than they were when working traditionally. For instance, working from home guarantees that people are almost always in reach of their phone or computer, even while doing their personal, household tasks.
Even though meetings still exist - via videoconferencing platforms, people are spending more time at their desks, making it easier to catch them. The pandemic also means people are traveling less for work and therefore “in the office” more.
Furthermore, working remotely means the daily drive to and from work is now as simple as walking from one room to another. A recent survey conducted by freelancing platform Upwork found that Americans working from home due to the pandemic were saving just under 50 extra minutes each day that would normally be dedicated to their commute to and from the office.
You Can Use A More Available Workforce to Your Advantage
If you’re considering a customer research project, there has never been a better time to catch people with a little extra time on their hands while at work. At Spailey Solutions, we’ve seen our conversion rate go up to nearly twice the industry average during 2020 and expect to continue in this direction in 2021.
If you’ve completed customer research in the past, the events of 2020 may have added new elements to your customers’ lives that could give you even better insight into their needs and pain points. Either way, now is an excellent time to consider diving into your customers’ experiences.
How to Get Started with Customer Research
Examine your Current Challenges
Think about where knowing your customers’ thoughts would be most impactful. Maybe you are most interested in knowing your customer’s overall perception of your brand through an analysis of customer experience. Maybe you are losing customers but unsure why. Knowing where to focus your research before you start will save you a lot of time and energy in the long run. Don’t worry if you’re not sure. Professionals are here to help you determine exactly which type of research will best meet your needs.
Is It Better to Use a Third-Party Research Firm?
When diving headfirst into a customer research project, you may find it helpful to hire a third-party firm. The benefits are many: from objectivity to confidentiality to expertise, see why it’s in your best interest to hire an expert customer researcher.
Evaluate the Competition
If you do decide a third-party firm is right for you, be sure to evaluate the competition to find the one that is the best fit. You’ll want to consider a firm with proven expertise in turning quantitative and qualitative data into actionable, revenue-generating insights and recommendations for your business. Many firms turn to automated outreach to save time, hiring a firm that will conduct personalized outreach guarantees flexibility and humanizes your research efforts
Reach out to Get Started
Remember, someday, the world will return to (mostly) normal. People will once again work in the office, travel regularly for business, and spend their time sitting in rush hour traffic each morning and evening. Until that happens, we recommend taking advantage of easier-than-normal access to your customer’s time and attention to gain insights and make critical business decisions in the coming year.