Panels can be any group of people who gather to discuss a particular topic. When we talk about in-house panels for market research, panels generally consist of consumers who are either current, former, or potential customers. In-house panels can be carefully curated when it comes to the demographic of the respondents, the content of the questions, and everything in between. The goals of market research panels can vary dramatically dependent on the nature of the organization and their market research needs.
Today, we will discuss the basics of effective in-house panels by defining market research panels, how panels can be used to enhance customer experience management using customer feedback loops, and some of the benefits and risks of using in-house panels for market research.
Market Research Panels 101
Market research panels are essentially a set of individuals who have been selected to answer a series of questions about a product, service, or brand. The exact nature of the question and answer format can be dramatically different and may take the form of surveys, focus groups, in-depth interviews, or In-Home Usage Tests (IHUTs). The value of market research panels often stems from the direct nature of the responses. Respondents are generally hand-selected because of their demographics including purchase history, age, income, and so forth.
In previous years, market research panels were primarily conducted over the phone or in person. Internet connectivity allows for companies to reach greater numbers of respondents for larger data acquisition with less downtime. It should be noted that respondents are more likely to answer fully and honestly in person, which is where more focused interview methods such as in-depth interviews come into play.
Using In-House Panels for Customer Experience Management
Perhaps the primary way in which in-house panels benefit businesses is by providing detailed customer feedback to enhance customer experience management. In-house panels provides rapid research and competitive benchmark solutions through customer responses. Here is a high level look at how to use panels for improved customer experience:
- Select a goal for the in-house panel. Unfocused panels often yield poor, unusable results. Every organization has certain weaknesses they are hoping to turn into opportunities. This is often a great place to start.
- Select your panelists. Equally important is the selection process for your panel participants. In-house panelists can be selected based on the criteria which matters most to your organization and your brand.
- Create your questionnaire and decide on a delivery method. Are your questions more suitable for large audiences to answer in a simple “yes or no” format? Are your questions more complex and in need of IDIs? At this stage, finding the questions and panel methods which best suits your needs is critical.
- Conduct the panel. You are now ready to move forward with the in-house panel for market research. Remember that consumer panels will typically reconvene at regular intervals, and that it is not necessary to overwhelm panelists all at once.
- Review the data. Once the current panel iteration is complete, your organization will be left with the raw data. Analyzing this data from a CX management and brand positioning standpoint is vital for future business decisions.
- Turn these new insights into action. All the data in the world doesn’t do anyone any good without a plan to back it up. These new actions might be a change in branding strategy, an alteration to improve customer experience, or simply a plan to make future in-house panels even more valuable.
Pros and Cons of In-House Panels
Let’s take a look at some of the unique pros and cons which can make in-house panels both valuable and potentially risky for corporations.
Pros of in-house panels:
- Flexibility. Perhaps the biggest benefit of in-house panels is the near limitless iterations that can be used by marketing teams. The participants, the questions, the method of question asking, and the way in which the data is interpreted can all be adjusted as needed.
- Accessibility. Arranging for panels is generally fast and efficient with the help of a high quality marketing team.
- High specificity. With the aforementioned flexibility of application also comes pinpoint specificity. Only the panelists, questions, and methods which best suit your goals need to be included.
- Repeatability and adaptability. An advantage we have not touched on much to this point is the ongoing nature of in-house panels. With panelists reconvening over time, their answers carry even more weight.
Cons of in-house panels:
- Personal bias. Panelists grant companies direct access to their customers. They also grant direct access to the individual’s nuanced biases, particularly after they have been a panel participant over a long period of time.
- Poor data quality (sometimes). It is a risk that in-house panels provide unreliable or even useless responses. This is often avoidable with careful planning.
- The wrong panelists = the wrong results. It cannot be overstated how much of the human element can play a role in panels. Selecting too broad a demographic can muddy the results while getting too specific can give false positives or negatives to overall customer feedback.
Clock Tower Insight Customizable Panels for Businesses
Clock Tower Insight is proud to work with a wide range of B2C and B2B industries, including retail, CPG, food service, and advertising organizations. We believe in using powerful, cutting edge research to offer brand-specific insights. With this insight, we work with brands to turn the data into actionable information, and eventually into business growth. Our services include brand positioning, customer experience management, and much more.
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