Can you imagine going into a strategy session not knowing the growth projections for your market, your product or your industry?
Can you conceive of not knowing your share of the market compared to the market share of your competitors?
Arming yourself with this strategic quantitative data is critical to understanding how to grow your market presence, how to sell more products and services and how to win more customers.
But equally important is knowing why the market is growing quickly, knowing why certain competitors are gaining share at your expense and knowing why key customers may be defecting.
This blending of hard data with softer, descriptive information is the essence of research, analysis and reporting for many companies. Yet for some organizations, there’s an increasingly strong bias toward data-only feedback. Driven in large part by big data and data analytics, this trend has led some to mistakenly believe that qualitative data is superfluous and no longer needed.
In earlier articles, I discussed the merits of using a combination of quantitative and qualitative data, along with best practices for collecting both types of feedback. In this article, I’ll focus on the impact that a dual “qual/quant” collection strategy can have on your organization’s long-term strategic success.
1. Collecting a combination of qualitative and quantitative data is important because it provides both the “what” and the “why” about specific markets, products, competitors and customers. For example, you may know that your market share is declining, but you may not know the cause of that decline. Is it due to product limitations? Pricing? Service and support? Something else?
2. Collecting hard and soft data provides an indication of how serious specific issues are in different facets of your business. For example, seeing a low rating of your product’s user interface or functionality may be alarming. However, reading or hearing vivid, passionate customer testimonials helps you know exactly how dire the situation is, especially when the feedback is relative to other issues that may need fixing and prioritization.
3. Using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies allow respondents to feel they had the opportunity to provide a comprehensive accounting of their feedback – whether positive or negative. In contrast, by only capturing quantitative feedback, respondents may feel cheated out of the opportunity to fully explain the impact of their experiences to researchers, especially if the evaluation took weeks, months or even years. At the same time, those providing only qualitative feedback may want to ground their experiences in a concrete, numeric way.
4. Quantitative feedback, while precise, often isn’t specific in coming up with solutions. In contrast, organizations at the forefront of using qualitative feedback know that the best ideas for improvement often come from customers and even competitors. Why not harness these ideas, while at the same time demonstrating to customers that you’re acting upon their input?
5. Certain types of information, such as competitive information, is frequently surfaced, at least initially, in the form of rumor or speculation. Piecing together bits and pieces of data is easier when there’s a dual qualitative and quantitative collection program in place.
For the best long-term organizational strategy, use a combination of quantitative and qualitative feedback. This approach is typically more reliable, more robust and more well-rounded over the long term than trying to rely on any single data collection methodology.
What have you experienced with quantitative and qualitative information collection?