Agile customer research for a fast changing world

Eckhart Böhme

graduate in industrial engineering, Founder & Managing Director

unipro solutions GmbH & Co. KG

It seems like the world is turning faster and faster. Every day there are new developments, new products, new trends. Customers respond with ever shorter attention spans to the abundance of information that affects them. What was considered secure information today may be obsolete tomorrow. As a result, customer needs become a moving target. For customers but also for those whose job it is to find out what they need, these dynamics represent a huge challenge. How is it still possible to understand what customers want or need better – now, here and truly?

Customer research to the rescue

Customer research can be an effective tool for figuring out what customers need and how best to be convinced of it. In principle, qualitative market research in which customers are interviewed is suitable for this purpose. A well-done study generates insights that can be directly implemented in a product and marketing strategy. It provides information about the new things people want to achieve, what stands in the way of their progress, what drives and slows them down.

Market research – the last bastion of anti-agile practices

But qualitative market research has one major disadvantage: it is slow. It is not uncommon for customer research projects to take weeks or even months from planning to the finished report – too long for a world in turbo mode. Once a study is completed, the world has already changed so much that it is no longer relevant. If you want to rely on qualitative research for the development of new products and campaigns, it literally becomes a bottleneck. On the other hand, companies try to be agile so as not to miss a trend. They don’t go together.

Customer research in real-time

An approach that generates insights in real-time would be a great advantage. Is there such a thing? Yes, there is. The key to doing agile market research is knowing what to look for. With the Customer Progress Design approach, 12 elements are sought through qualitative surveys that determine how people make progress. The elements found are processed in a structured process and used to develop a market cultivation and market development strategy.

Example of a customer interview with real-time evaluation

A characteristic of the Customer Progress Design is that it enables agility: while a test person is asked about buying an e-cargo bike (in German), the interview is recorded and evaluated by the team in the background on a canvas. The entire evaluation of the interview, including the 45-minute interview, only takes 2 hours.


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