The business landscape, as we know it, is changing rapidly.
Our customer bases are getting more extensive, our operating hours longer, and our business focuses broader. With technology and innovation continually moving the goalposts, it is imperative that companies can adapt to keep customers happy, employees engaged, and the competition at bay.
Historically, however, the market research industry has lagged in this respect. It’s been slow to accept change and inflexible in its approach. In order to survive in such a fast-paced and fluctuating environment, it’s become an issue that needs addressing with urgency.
However we do it, it’s clear a one-track approach won’t work anymore."
Say no to a one-track approach
There are several ways that market research can embrace flexibility, and one of the first areas we need to address is in our approach with clients.
Traditionally, market research has been very focused on a single outcome – a client brief would be received, the research proposal would be submitted and actioned, and then the report with the results would be generated.
If the research raised new questions or anything changed during that process to shift the focus, it was a case of starting new research from scratch.
Such a rigid approach won’t work in this changing environment. To remain competitive, we have to be the ones to adapt to what the customer needs — by altering our approach, customising our offering and producing the answer to their question no matter what it is.
How do we do that? With a proactive mindset and using the technology and innovation available to us. That could mean turning to online communities for further insight, running new polls to focus a question and making use of software tools that can give us a longer-term picture of what makes a brand’s customers tick.
However we do it, it’s clear a one-track approach won’t work anymore. We need to be willing to get our clients the answers they need by adapting our tactics to suit. The tools are out there; we have to be ready and willing to use them – or someone else will.
Happy employees are repeatedly shown to be the foundation of a successful business."
Trust in flexibility
While changing our attitudes towards more flexible client services will help ensure that we are always on the front foot in the business, flexibility with our employees is another important consideration too.
Flexibility when it comes to working, be that the hours we work or where we work from, has generally been met with distrust and resistance from business leaders. But as we strive to build a more diverse industry, flexibility has to go hand in hand to ensure we are creating a workforce that is driven, invested, and productive.
Offering flexible working has been proven time and time again to create an environment of mutual trust and appreciation, and happy employees are repeatedly shown to be the foundation of a successful business.
It’s also true that retaining your best employees helps businesses prosper and creates a culture that makes the very best want to join you too. Success snowballs – give people what they want, and you’ll find the benefits come back to you many times over.
And it’s not just the working mothers that we’re talking about here – it’s fathers, it’s students, it’s people looking to cut down on work for a better work/life balance, or those who don’t want to live in the hustle and bustle of big cities.
These are all perspectives our industry needs and thrives on, and so listening to what our workforces want, challenging the status quo and changing the flexible working focus from “why” into “why not” could make all the difference to your business.
Now is the time to embrace flexibility in market research and to champion it from all angles. Only then can we attract the best, keep the best, and be the very best that we can be.
This article originally appeared on MarTech Advisor.