The Future is Frictionless Research

frictionless research

“I wish surveys would be smarter and not ask me the same questions over and over again. That repetitive clicking of how old I am, where I live, what my demographic is, how much money I make.” a respondent told us when asked what they disliked about surveys.

This expectation that surveys should be “smarter” is more than reasonable. We increasingly expect that information on us exists and that it can be drawn upon to make transactions faster and easier. Why would research be any different?

Every credit card transaction, every click online, everywhere we go with our smartphone in tow leaves a data trail. That’s why the same ad for dog food follows you around the internet for a week. That’s why a search for a vacation place finds you inundated with helpful suggestions from destinations like those you searched. People are knowable.

I interviewed Steven Cierpicki, Manager, Research and Customer Insights at Virgin Australia, for my book The Insights Revolution: Questioning Everything (which will be out in October). He notes that, with the digitization of life, we expect transactions to be easier, and we assume information about us is known: “One big trend we’ve noticed is transacting generally. In the old days, you might actually have to take your bill down to the post office to pay it with a cheque. You had to write the cheque, go down to the post office, join the queue, just to pay for your electricity or your gas. Even with money, you’d have to have the currency, and then you’d pay for your purchase and then they’d give you the change, and you’d count it out, and you’d put it in your pocket…minutes of effort. And now, in Australia, we’ve got payWave. And you buy stuff just by tapping your card on a counter.”

“We really notice that difference in transactions between the old-world businesses and the new-world businesses. So, some of the new-world businesses that we are dealing with, if you want to purchase something, literally all the information is there. You click on the e-mail, and wow, ‘They already know all that?’ Great. Instant. It’s done.”

“I think with surveys, it’s the same thing,” Cierpicki says. “Why would you get people to fill out forms when that information exists somewhere?”

I was discussing this notion of frictionless research with Kathy Alexander, Vice President, Mindseye Research Group and she sees this problem with call centers too. She said “I work a lot with service companies and we constantly hear from customers in satisfaction work that they hate having to identify themselves to the interactive voice response and then again to the rep. So before the rep even gets a chance to respond to the reason they called, the customer’s view of the company is already on the decline.”

Nobody wants to start off an interview with a person whose view of the survey is already on the decline, but that’s exactly what we do when we ask our community members the same question over and over again. We need “smarter” surveys.

That’s why we have stopped asking demographic questions and are crafting our profiling questionnaires to include lots of relevant and relatively unchanging information. In my blog post Is it Necessary To Ask Demographics in Every Survey? we showed how reliable this kind of information can be.

Let’s make surveys smarter and make the future of research frictionless.


The Insights Revolution is ComingInsights Revolution

The Insights Revolution: Questioning Everything

It’s time to start the insights revolution.

Andrew Grenville, Chief Research Officer at Maru/Matchbox says the insights industry is in trouble.

It’s not growing and it does not have real influence in the boardroom. So what to do? This book takes a problem/solution approach that shines an uncomfortable light on familiar practices before suggesting a better way forward.

Learn more about this book