No, this is not a treatise to support the market research community.

It is simply a bald statement of fact about the criticality of keeping in touch with your customer and ‘knowing’ them beyond the truths that transaction data reveals. Data analysis reveals WHAT your customer is doing w.r.t your brand. It doesn’t tell you WHY they’re behaving as they are and what drives and motivates them. That’s where research comes in.

This is the age where every brand worth its salt is talking of the importance of customer experience, customer journeys, customer-centricity of the organisation… Stands to reason that one needs to go back to the customer every now and then to understand them a little bit better.

In this VUCA world, customer needs and expectations are constantly evolving. Privileges yesterday are treated as hygiene today. If a brand has to keep pace with – and exceed – customer expectations, it needs to hear customer voices more often.

Cust Sat/NPS surveys done periodically, annual/semi-annual dipsticks with different customer segments, listening in at the call-centre to live customer calls, market visits to see what’s actually happening ‘out there’, touch-point audits of all key customer touchpoints done regularly, analysis of ‘white mail’ that comes to the brand, social media listening – all critical ways to understand the Voice of Customer.

It’s not one or the other – it’s ALL of them that need to be done. And, it needs to be done by people across the organisation including the C-suite- not just the marketing team or the market research agency. The more the entire organisation is tuned to customer needs, the more customer-centric it becomes.