Watching a focus group recently and seeing the passion with which customers talked about their personal finances, I was reminded just how powerful it can be for researchers and non-researchers alike (from junior staff to senior management) to observe qualitative research. Admittedly in a different sector, I find it hard to forget the sombre mood behind the viewing mirror after observing an arthritis patient burst into tears when asked how her condition made her feel.
The coverage of last year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games was an extreme reminder of how people can get caught up in the moment. The close-ups of athletes’ and spectators’ joy and despair was very powerful; something that couldn’t be replicated nor truly understood by reading the next day’s newspaper (report) or looking at the medal table (dashboard).
Robust samples, percentages, bar graphs, infographics and verbatim are essential elements of research but sometimes nothing can bring home how the everyday consumer is feeling better than seeing them talk about the impact that the financial services industry is having on them, be it products, customer service, switching providers, financial literature, money saving advice sites and media coverage.
There are many reasons why it is important to attend customer research in 2013. Below are my ‘top 10’; we’d love to hear your big questions.
• What impact are record low interest rates having on consumer risk-taking?
• Are perceptions of the financial services industry as a whole and individual companies recovering?
• What impact is the RDR ‘advice-gap’ having on investment decisions?
• How best can organisations interact with consumers by mobile phone/online without impacting the relationship?
• Can financial services brands stretch into new markets such as legal services?
• Will making current account switching easier and quicker together with the plethora of new entrants change the banking landscape?
• What is the impact on perceptions of the insurance industry of rising insurance premiums for women?
• How is retirement being redefined by consumers and what are the implications for financial services providers?
• What products do consumers need to help them pay for long-term care?
• How can financial institutions help consumers to achieve their life goals?
Sitting behind the viewing mirror may not be the Olympics, but there is a lot going on in financial services that is having a real impact on people’s lives, the impact of which can be truly understood by seeing the whites of customers’ eyes.
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