McKinsey & Company first coined the ‘T-shaped’ expression in the 1980s to reflect a person’s skill set. The vertical line of the ‘T’ represented the depth of expertise and the horizontal line of the ‘T’ represented the ability to work cross-functionally across disciplines.
Today, the same T-Shaped concept can be applied to research to deliver breadth and depth of insight.
One way to work with the T-Shaped approach in a research context is by combining customer experience programs (breadth) and insight community programs (depth).
There are many ways you can team up these two types of programs. Here are our top 3:
#1: Use your customer experience program to monitor ongoing experience across your customer base and identify pain points and their underlying root causes. Then layer in an insight community, to deep dive into the recurring problems that have been identified, and collaborate with your community members to co-create solutions.
The result? By involving customers in problem solving and adopting a customer-centric approach, you mitigate the chances of the same issues arising later down the track.
#2: Use your insight community to help inform new product development, from ideation and concept testing, through to refining marketing comms and ad testing. Once you have launched the new product, use your customer experience program to monitor how well it is perceived.
The result? By developing products with customers, not just for them, products have a greater likelihood of succeeding. Not only that but, according to Forrester Research, products developed with consumer input through an insight community have a 5x reduction in speed to market, due to easy access to consumer feedback at every stage of the product development process.
#3: Use your insight community and customer experience programs together to gain input from different cohorts. For instance, you can tap into both customers and employees to identify and solve problems. Uncover problems in the customer journey through your customer experience program and use an employee insight community to collaborate on solutions to those problems. This works particularly well if the employees are frontline workers.
The result? Frontline employees are often a wealth of untapped knowledge. They not only can have ideas on new products and services based on their observations, but also have a deeper understanding of the challenges customers face. By connecting up customer and employee feedback, in a structured way, you can efficiently solve problems and achieve better customer outcomes.
Hopefully this gives you a taste of the power of combining customer experience and insight communities.
If you would like to know more about how a T-Shaped insights approach could benefit your business, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org