Working as an insight professional in B2B organisations can be quite a lonely job, usually consisting of a team of one, with the pressure and power to influence a whole organisation to act on research findings and company metrics. So we held an exclusive event, bringing B2B insight professionals together to discuss and identify best practice in how to drive action from research insights.
As an organisation that provides true intelligence to leaders across the world so that they know where to focus, we know that you can have the best insights ever, but if no one does anything with them, the work would have been in vain and scepticism around the value of research and feedback starts building. In order to build a culture of action, an environment where action becomes a natural part of the research process, action needs to be valued, enabled, and ongoing – and deliver results. But whose job is it to drive action? And how does action evolve from points on a to-do-list to a culture?
We started the session by looking at the main barriers to taking action. We then broke into groups to discuss how to tackle each of the issues – taking action on the barriers of action…
Barrier: Senior management support – CEO buy in is there but senior management support is not
Ways to overcome…
Define a board sponsor at start of programme, explain what is expected of them and what impact their involvement will have to secure buy in from the start.
Give regular updates to keep them in the loop.
Meet with senior management to brief them on the findings and the actions that need to be taken before presenting results out to the organisation. Reference examples from other companies who have successfully use the approach to showcase what good looks like.
Barrier: Acting on customer feedback is not KPI related
Ways to overcome…
Ask for little at the beginning. Prioritise the actions and relate them to a single specific issue. Taking a baby steps approach to the matter helps reduce resistance.
Close the loop by communicating action three ways: to leadership, employees AND customers.
Use the internal champions and allies to build a case study that you can share with the rest of the organisation to encourage action.
It is key to help the organisation see customer feedback as a tool that supports employees work rather than scoring (or punishment) exercise. To do that keep repeating the vision and purpose of the program and make sure you celebrate success as much as focus on fixing issues.
Barrier: Ownership of the actions and scepticism – does this impact me? Is this accurate?
Ways to overcome…
Involve teams in the design of the questionnaire to build a sense of ownership. This makes the process slower but will save time at back end when results are being presented.
Carve the data down to a granular level and deliver the headlines important to particular teams. When presenting insights, make sure the learnings are made concise and relevant to that team/function specifically.
Ensure that customer feedback is not an annual occurrence, rather an ongoing initiative that so that customers’ needs are top of mind on an ongoing basis. Embed feedback along the project work instead of just the end of the project. That way it’s not seen as an assessment exercise rather a tool to support project work.
Barrier: Fear of change or failing – “We know it works this way so why make it different?”
Ways to overcome:
Breakdown what people are being asked to focus on, starting the exercise with a particular touchpoint in the customer journey to avoid overwhelming the stakeholders. This gives results quicker and reduces resistance.
Once implemented, create a case study, log the action and make it available to the wider organisation.
Ask owners of the initiative to showcase the work and champion the action. Hearing it first-hand from the practitioner, actions are much more likely to be adopted and the story is much more authentic. Ensure that the person delivering it is of an equivalent role to the audience (eg sales person to sales person).
Related to that, connect peers and encourage them to share best practice.
Communicate success with customers! Celebrations reinforce desired behaviour.
Start with a vision, not a problem.
The best champions might not be who you think they are – who do others pay attention to?
There is power in positive interruptions. Research and action shouldn’t be a once a year event. It’s an ongoing chance to continuously encourage and refine the steps that you are taking to ensure you’re on the right path to meet your goals.