On marrying quantitative and qualitative research

 

The focus in the commercial world on numbers breeds a huge bias in favour of quantitative research. One of the challenges with quantitative research is that it rarely answers the question ‘why’, and focuses on the ‘what’ (i.e. the ‘what happened?‘).

 

We, as customer/user experience professionals, need to balance this with qualitative research, focussing on uncovering the drivers of behaviour – why are people doing what they are doing? What goal are they trying to achieve? What Core Want are they trying to fulfil?

 

The ultimate goal should be to try and map our qualitative findings to quantitative measures – allowing us to tell the human story, but underpinned by quantitative measures.

 

The work that I have done mapping customer journeys, and experience mapping, has included a process whereby we identified key measures by which we relate qualitative findings to hard numbers – both outside-in, customer focussed (like satisfaction (a.k.a CSat), complaints etc.), and inside-out, business focussed (like trading data, conversion rate, ASP/AOV, returns etc.).

 

This allows you to both understand the psychological process that drives customer behaviour, and articulate it in a meaningful way that highlights and quantifies problems and opportunities.

 

As organisations become more customer centric, this, I believe, is a vital step – an organisation needs to understand customer behaviour and, importantly for the bottom line, understand where to invest in the customer journey to increase sales, loyalty and satisfaction.