Registration Open for Data & Insight Leaders Masterclass

Data & Insight Leaders Masterclass, Manchester 2017

If you’d like to join us at the Data & Insight Leaders Masterclass #DLManc17 in Manchester on Tuesday 4th April 2017, registration is now officially open.

As marketers continually struggle with the wealth of data being produced, and try to overcome the many challenges of turning this data into actionable insights, we’ve decided to turn our focus to launching the Data & Insight Leaders Masterclass.

The masterclass will provide a unique learning experience, bringing together a diverse selection of the industry’s leading ‘Data & Insight’ thinkers in one room – To generate discussion, and share knowledge. #DLManc17 aims to equip delegates with a series of useful tips and strategies on how to harness complex data, and use it to drive conversion, customer experience and marketing performance.

The event will be held at the 5-Star Radisson Blu Edwardian in Manchester, and take place within The Walters Suite (9am to 1pm).

Register To Attend #DLManc17

A Guide To Effective Employee Satisfaction Research

Most organisations put considerable effort into maintaining customer closeness, as this is rightly seen as a key component of running a successful business. As part of this process, it is important to remember that customer opinion can be heavily influenced by the attitude and morale of employees within your organisation, and that monitoring this is therefore crucial. Indeed, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development goes as far as to say, “Most research confirms that the quality of people management is a better predictor of performance than business strategy, research and development or quality management” (Change Agenda on Human Capital, 2003). This being the case, monitoring staff opinions and reacting effectively to their feedback can lead not only to improved retention and productivity, but can also be reflected in improvements in customer satisfaction, and so is a critical component in the management toolkit.

This is especially true in today’s tough economic climate, where there is far less flexibility in the offer of financial rewards – employee engagement is increasingly important in retaining talent. The recession has changed the playing field for many businesses, and they are having to re-evaluate what they can do to attract, develop and retain the best people at least cost, not simply for the sake of being a good employer but to secure the financial success of their organisation.

Measuring employee perceptions is not as straightforward as just taking more notice of discussions around the water-cooler, of course; here are some tips to help you design and get the most out of your employee consultation process.

Make sure the research format is accessible to all
Every staff member should be given the chance to air their views, in a systematic and structured way. This is important in terms of being seen to be inclusive, and also to enable results to be analysed, and recommendations targeted, in as fine detail as possible. In practical terms, this means undertaking a survey to which all staff, not just a sample, are invited to participate, and careful consideration must be given to the circumstances of all existing staff, making sure they can access the survey, and have sufficient time to take part.

If you are considering an online approach, for example, remember that any field-based employees may access their e-mails much less frequently than those based in the office. It may be worth thinking about offering different methods for different categories of employee, if necessary.

A high response rate gives the results more power
Just like an election with poor turnout, a low response rate can result in people questioning the legitimacy of the results. Therefore, plans must be put in place to maximise buy-in to the study. Before the survey is distributed, publicise the fact that it will be taking place. Explain the process, stressing that it provides an opportunity for staff to give their views and that the results will help shape internal policy. This message is best communicated from someone at a senior level, as having visible senior buy-in emphasises the importance of the consultation.

The questionnaire itself can also impact response rates, as can the organisation of the fieldwork period. Questions should cover all aspects of the working experience, but it’s best to avoid a long questionnaire, as this can make it harder for busy people to find time to participate. Open ended questions in particular should be used carefully: they can provide useful, detailed feedback, but they also take longer to answer than closed questions. Finally, set a reasonable deadline for completing the survey. Ideally, staff should be given a few weeks to respond, as this should still allow any who are on annual leave during part of the fieldwork period to participate. A small number of reminder communications during the fieldwork period can also help to increase response.

Remember the importance of anonymity
Another pre-requisite of a successful employee consultation is guaranteeing that anonymity is protected and emphasised throughout the process. If there is any concern that comments could be identified by senior management, the chance of obtaining honest, open feedback is lost. Commissioning an external agency to run the consultation project, and making this clear to all staff, can make all the difference to the success of the exercise – having the results held and processed by an independent party can provide reassurance that anonymity will be ensured.

It is also useful to explain how the results will be analysed. Whilst it is common practice to break the results down by department or level of seniority, the level of drill-down does depend on the number of employees in each subgroup. A good research process will prevent the possibility of someone’s answers being identifiable because they are the only senior manager within a particular division, for example. Finally, the methodology must also allow respondents to complete the survey in private; this can make a telephone interview inappropriate if respondents are contacted in the office.

Identify feasible improvements that will make a difference
Once the fieldwork is completed, that’s when the real work begins. Whilst each result may be interesting in its own way, it’s advisable to focus on finding out what’s important to employees themselves. This can be done by identifying the issues most strongly correlated with overall satisfaction. Most employees will be happy to accept that their job cannot be perfect in every way, but may still become disenchanted if they find fault in those areas that they value most in a job. By focussing on what is most important, it should be possible to identify the most pressing problems, and then prioritise changes that can potentially make the largest difference.

Communicate the findings and the actions you intend to take
Post-survey communication can prove as important as the analysis itself. Sharing the findings with all staff is strongly recommended; if employees think you are merely paying lip service to the process without actively looking to change anything, this is only marginally better than not consulting them at all. Tell them where the results were positive, where they could have been better, and importantly, what you plan to do in response to their feedback.

Finally, follow through on your promises
Once you’ve informed staff what actions will be taken, it is vitally important to then go ahead and do what you said you would. If you don’t follow through effectively, this can engender a cynical attitude which could even result in a drop in morale. In her work on psychological contracts in organisations (1995), Rousseau observed, “We know that when employees feel that their boss or firm has broken their expectations about work and career opportunities they often feel less committed to the organisation.” And less commitment to the organisation translates into less commitment to your customers.

Keeping Customers Satisfied

Effective customer satisfaction research brings accurate feedback and valuable data, says Jonathan Pickup, B2B research manager at McCallum Layton Customer satisfaction is integral to a successful business operation and is strongly linked to customer retention. But not all businesses formally evaluate and track the changing satisfaction levels of their customers. In particular, B2B organisations tend to rely on more anecdotal feedback, provided by relationship managers or account handlers. While this can work, there is a danger that dissatisfaction can remain hidden until it is too late. Relationship managers may be reluctant to feed back minor issues that might not portray their own work in the best light.

Engaging a third party to conduct customer satisfaction research brings more rigour and independence to the process. The opportunity to speak anonymously allows customers to provide more honest feedback. A good research provider will also help you to maximise the value of your customer satisfaction measurement.
Here are some tips for getting the most out your customer satisfaction research.

1. Who to survey?
It is easy to bias your results from the start if care is not taken when compiling the list of customers to contact. The best starting point is to put together a comprehensive list of all contacts, regardless of how likely you feel they are to respond to a survey, or to answer positively.

Next, think about how you might classify your customer base. It makes sense to conduct the survey with a representative sample of customers, but there may be good reason to consider conducting research with certain subgroups. For example, your organisation may provide different products or services to different markets – and customer experiences may therefore differ widely. Similarly, you may wish to include more of your most important customers, especially if these relationships are managed differently.

2. What method?
Once you have compiled your list, consider how customers could best be contacted. Most B2B customer satisfaction research is conducted by telephone, as this usually achieves the best levels of response. If you typically communicate with your customers electronically, however, an online approach could also work. High-value customers may be interviewed face-to-face, to help reinforce the relationship.

3. What to ask?
Your results should not just measure satisfaction, but also identify the most effective steps you could take to improve perceptions. Listing the factors on which you are likely to be judged is a good starting point. Include overall satisfaction and loyalty measures, as easy reference scores that can be communicated throughout the business.

A good customer satisfaction survey would normally take about 10–15 minutes. Much longer than this and the depth and quality of customers” responses may suffer, or they may be less likely to agree to take part in the first place. If your initial draft is too long, separate the “nice-to-know” from the “need-to-know” – focus on what is important to the customer and those factors you can really do something about.

4. How often?
Many customer satisfaction projects are run as regular tracking programmes, rather than one-off surveys. This helps you to keep your finger on the pulse of customer opinion, and evaluate any actions you have taken based on previous results.

How often you need to take measurements will depend on the nature of your market. If most customers tend to build long-term relationships with your organisation, satisfaction may be a fairly stable measure that is unlikely to change dramatically in the short-term unless there are exceptional circumstances (e.g. major changes to pricing). In this case, annual tracking may be sufficient.
Conversely, if your industry is fast moving and competitive, and customers readily switch suppliers, more frequent waves may be appropriate, allowing you to identify and react to any changes in customer opinion promptly.

5. Data analysis
The analysis of customer satisfaction data tends to centre around identifying weaker areas of performance, so that improvements can be implemented. A quick scan of the results will identify the areas of service where scores are lowest.

What this does not provide, however, is any kind of prioritisation. Most customers will accept a lesser service in areas they think of as less important, as long as performance is good on the critical factors. A “key driver analysis” can be used to identify factors most closely correlated with overall satisfaction, so that you can focus first on improvements that are likely to have the greatest impact.

6. Review and refresh
Whilst the first wave of research should provide you with a greater understanding of customer opinion, it is important that future waves continue to build on this. An effective customer satisfaction tracking survey will offer much more than just a regular set of top-level figures.

The programme should be regularly reviewed to identify any new areas of interest to include in future waves. Even though the survey is designed to track data over time, this does not mean that the questionnaire cannot be changed at all, as long as care is taken not to introduce any new bias into the overall measures.

Finally, leave room in your questionnaire for a tactical response section that changes periodically. Questions can be inserted as new issues of interest arise, providing topical information to the business without needing to set up and conduct separate research studies.

McCallum Layton Launch New Integrated Online Research Service

UK Research & Marketing Insight Consultancy McCallum Layton has launched a new online service that provides a fully integrated research and insight management solution comprised of three elements:- e-qual; e-quant and The Hub.

e-qual provides a variety of online qualitative research techniques including: focus groups, bulletin boards and bespoke web communities.

e-quant handles web-based and email-based surveys and provides online data analysis tools and reporting.

The Hub is the agency’s insight management portal through which clients can access their projects from anywhere in the world via a secure login.

Duncan McCallum, Founding Partner said “We are committed to providing our clients with additional benefits that will improve their bottom line. Our new service will not only provide clients with greater insight from their research but will also help them manage and disseminate the findings with greater speed and efficiency. Whilst providing clients with online services is not new to our agency, we have greatly enhanced our offering in this area to complement our other research services and solutions. In the last 12 months over 20 major new clients used our services including Greggs, O2, Vimto and Bosch, and we are excited about rolling out further new client services in 2010.”

The Need For Continuous Insight (Special Report)

The current unrelenting economic uncertainty means that the need for continuous insight has never been more pressing. Figures for the third quarter released at the back end of last year showed that the economy contracted by 0.3%, when many pundits were expecting growth. We are experiencing the longest economic contraction in half a century and talk is now about a W-shaped recession. So, what does this have to do with market research? The answer is – everything.

Do you know how your customers are feeling as the situation drags on and on and how it will affect their future behaviour? Do you have detailed plans concerning the development of products/services that you might need to be marketing in six to twelve months time? Instead, wouldn’t it be great if you knew where your market was going and how consumers’ thoughts were being moulded on an almost daily basis? Well, you can, but not if your insight is always gleaned from looking in the rear-view mirror by, for example, undertaking tracking surveys twice yearly as opposed to more frequently. What you have to do is immerse yourself in research on an almost daily basis, formulate numerous scenarios and adapt to the changing circumstances.

Let’s take an example. The majority of the public still view financial institutions with barely disguised hostility. What will happen if bankers’ bonuses unleash another wave of public outcry? Will advertising attempting to portray banks as friends of the consumer have any traction? Furthermore, as a well trusted brand, Tesco’s entry into market could make bigger waves than many think. There is also the danger that a new bank might appear which enshrines in its ethos a sensible and well publicised wage structure for its staff. What financial institutions need is an almost constant update of their customers’ dispositions, and, based on this, a number of alternative plans ready to action when the time comes.

The above is just an example using the financial sector. Think of your own market and there probably are pressing problems which, whilst possibly present before the recession, are now being exacerbated by it; all the time this being accompanied by an accelerating change in your customers’ mind set and behaviour. When challenges do suddenly emerge from the mist you need to have plans in place so you can react immediately. Keeping ahead of the pack is not a question of spending more market research pounds but of thinking ahead and spending them more wisely.

A technique we have found to be particularly fruitful is micro-tracking. For this we recruit a small number of client customers and talk to them every week, by ‘phone, or on-line, and explore their views on what has recently happened in the news, what their family and friends are doing/feeling, how it has affected them and what effects it might have on their future behaviour. We then run larger less detailed surveys every month to check key findings.

Micro-tracking can be supplemented by the creation of an on-line forum or notice board with access provided via a link from your website. Also, look to monitor blogs about your company and your competition, continuously, not just in response to some new marketing activity. In some instances frequently reconvened focus groups provide a rich seam of information concerning the way customers’ thoughts and behaviours are being moulded by events. These techniques can also be supported by analytics to gain even more insight, for example, by the use of ‘what if?’ models and other modelling techniques such as competitor analysis.

The key is to continuously collect and use data from a variety of sources which, when analysed together, provides pointers as to the direction in which your consumers and your market is moving. This data can then be used to formulate a number of possible scenarios each with an ascribed likelihood of occurrence. Armed with this information you will be able act immediately, not six months down the line when it might be too late.

Official Sponsor of Insight Show 2009

Following on from the success of our sponsorship last year, we are pleased to announce that we are, once again, going to be the official sponsor of this year’s Insight Show (Part of Marketing Week Live). The Insight Show is Europe”s largest research exhibition and is a must attend exhibition and conference for anyone who is a buyer, user and commissioner of market research. The Insight Show is the only event supported by all major trade associations – MRS, AURA, AIMRI and ICG. The event will be hosted at Grand Hall Olympia, London between 30th June and 1st July 2009.

Marketing Week Live brings together four dedicated marketing shows and the event is the first in the UK to integrate multiple marketing disciplines providing the nation’s marketing community with a single destination event for online marketing, data marketing, research and in-store marketing activity.

If you have a brief that you would like us to have a closer look at, please visit us on stand D141.

To find out more about our involvement, please contact John McCambley, Head of Brand Marketing & Communications on:

Tel: +44 (0)113 237 5590

Centre stage at “Esomar – Fragrance 09”

Vivien Wilton-Middlemass, Head of Sensory Research takes to the stage at Esomar’s annual Fragrance conference which is being held in Cannes, France between 22nd and 24th June.

Vivien’s session will show how through applying a multi staged approach of combined sensory and consumer research techniques we can identify and develop the best sensory stimuli suited to developing a successful branding strategy.
To find out more about our involvement, please contact John McCambley, Head of Brand Marketing & Communications on:

Tel: +44 (0)113 237 5590

Developing The Business Travel Market For Think Apartments (Case Study)

Business Issue
Sunlight Apartments approached McCallum Layton in early 2008 with an ambitious aim – to be the UK’s premier provider of serviced apartments by 2010. Their serviced apartments are designed to offer business and leisure travellers a stylish, comfortable, fully furnished alternative to staying in hotels, for stays from 1 day to 1 year, and at a price which can compete with hotel room rates.

Research was needed to feed into all areas of their strategy – marketing activities, ‘product’ provision, operations and the
re-branding of the company. Strategically, refreshing the brand and growing their revenue from the business travel market were priorities but, to do this effectively, the team at Sunlight Apartments (now Think Apartments) first needed to better understand the market – what customers want, how they buy, how to target them and, critically, how they could be motivated to consider serviced apartments as a viable alternative to hotels.

Our Approach
It was critical for the Marketing Team that the research should provide some hard figures upon which they could forecast sales and target their activities, so we carried out initial desk research, sourcing data which allowed them to build up a profile of business travellers. The challenge was then to understand the needs of three key client groups – Travel Management Companies (who source and book accommodation on behalf of corporate clients), aggregators (third-party distributors) and corporate travel buyers.

The qualitative research that followed was challenging from the outset, not only in terms of tracking down business buyers of corporate travel (who hold myriad different roles within different companies) but in persuading corporate contacts to give up precious time to share information and opinions.

Based on our research findings, Sunlight Apartments was
re-branded to Think Apartments and was successfully launched.

Insights from the research have been influential in guiding the design of new marketing materials, as well as helping to focus the design of the apartments themselves. Location, for example, was found to be the key criteria for corporate travel buyers when choosing accommodation. In response to this, Think Apartments’ advertising showcases breathtaking aerial shots of London, highlighting the close proximity of the apartments to some of London’s most visited areas, and has already helped their business grow by 14% in 2008 with pre-bookings for 2009 already at 70% of 2008 annual levels (as of February 2009).

Stewart Moore, Group Marketing Director at Think Apartments says: “Following the research, we were able to more accurately identify key targets and adjust the message within the exhibition space which has already helped drive very strong pre-bookings for 2009 and ahead of expectations especially given the current economic climate.”

To find out more about Think Apartments, visit: