You conducted customer research because you read somewhere that it’s the right thing to do. And you can finally say you did it. 

But now you have interview transcripts, survey results, and data just lying around. You’re thinking: What do I do with this information? What does it actually mean? 

With our two simple strategies, you can turn your research into valuable insights that inform actionable steps to improve your product and business. 

But first, let’s talk about how you’ve gotten into this situation in the first place.

Why Research Sits Unused and How It’s Hindering Your Success 

You’re not alone in struggling to extract value from your research. In fact, to be perfectly frank, most companies are too lazy or cheap (or both) when it comes to analyzing raw data. 

They allocate enough budget to conduct the research well but stop short at spending funds that allow people to understand the results. Or maybe they have the money but lack the drive to dig deeper into the data. It’s also possible they genuinely don’t know what to do with their research results despite the best intentions. 

In any case, you can’t stop once you have raw customer research. That data can easily be manipulated to mean just about anything if it’s not tied to critical thinking and analysis. 

Besides, you’re doing yourself and your company a disservice if you don’t work to find and deliver insights from your data. After all, thinking through and acting on research can:

  • Give you a better understanding of your customer segments, which in turn gives you a better idea of where to spend your time and money to please the largest number of people or the most valuable, revenue-generating group(s).
  • Help you communicate your product’s value to your customers in language they understand and relate to.
  • Earn stakeholder buy-in and trust on your decision-making process because your choices will be grounded in evidence.
  • Provide clarity, once and for all, on the value of customer research. 

Two Strategies for Turning Research Into Insights

Now that you understand how you’ve gotten into this mess and why it’s important to get out of it, let’s talk about those two simple strategies that can get you from here to there.

1. Start with the ‘Five Whys’ to Distill Your Customer Segments 

The five whys, sometimes called ‘root cause analysis,’ is the grandfather of problem solving techniques. Basically, it looks to figure out why something is the way it is — like your research data — by asking ‘why’ iteratively and repeatedly until a conclusion is reached. It’s kind of like a toddler who asks “But why?” tirelessly in their ongoing quest to understand the world. 

It’s important to start with this method because, by asking why your data is the way it is, you can uncover demographic and psychographic patterns. These patterns will then reveal groups of similar people you can fit into customer segments. We like to refer to this work as figuring out your actors (the customers) and their roles (their grouping)

Why do actors and roles matter? Because the insights you extract from your data are never one-size-fits-all. You have to tailor your next steps — like the features you’ll develop or the bugs you’ll fix — to like-minded groups of customers with similar needs. Or to actors who play the same roles. 

2. Leverage Value Proposition and Positioning Exercises to Solve Your Customers’ Problems 

Once your actors are in their roles, you can move on to discovering each groups’  risks, pressures, desires, and questions through positioning exercises

 At this point, you’ve taken your raw research data, defined your customer segments using the five whys, and noted their needs with positioning work. All that’s left is to address their needs with features and benefits so they continue enjoying your product. 

To do so, you need to define your value proposition for each customer segment. Through value proposition exercises, you’ll come to understand their pain points as well as, crucially, features that would address each one.  

And voila! Now, you don’t just have raw data. You have raw data that informs features that will help real customer segments use your product more successfully. Powerful, right? 

How These Two Strategies Work Together

Want to see how distilling insights can really work? Take an example. 

Say 1,000 people showed up to an epic party you planned. The five whys method demands you figure out why they’re there, so you start asking. Your questioning reveals a few stand-out groupings:

  • People who came for the band
  • People who came for the free drinks
  • People who came in hopes of meeting new people

Once you have your groups (aka your customer segments or roles), you can begin to understand the value proposition of the party that suits each one. 

For instance, the folks who came exclusively to see the band play don’t care about the booze. So perhaps the “feature” they want is an amazing sound system. And the people who just want to drink? Give them a map to the open bar and they’re suddenly happier with your party. 

If you tasked yourself with creating solutions to please all 1,000 people, you’d never get anywhere. They all have different pain points, desires, and expectations. By dividing the larger group into smaller segments, you can directly address each segment’s needs. 

You see where we’re going, right? The same is true for your raw customer research data. 

You’ll never figure out what to do next just by reading thousands of survey responses. That’s too much of a mishmash and it’s why you’ve been stuck. But split them into sensical groups and it’s suddenly feasible for you to glean insights and get something done for your customers in response. 

Ultimately, There’s No Excuse for Untapped Customer Research 

The tools we’ve outlined above aren’t that groundbreaking or difficult to use. The five whys technique alone has been around for several decades! Plus there are countless online resources and outsourced help you can turn to. 

There’s truly no excuse to ignore your customer research results after you receive them. Especially since the value you can create will have a massive impact on customer satisfaction and, therefore, revenue growth.