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Building Empathy to Improve Insights

The Big Data/Empathy Relationship

In a bit of a contrast, the rise of big data, and now artificial intelligence, grew the focus of insights on the human-centric perspective. As data about customers became ever more detailed, voluminous and specific, forward-looking companies aimed to not lose sight of the customer at the heart of the transaction process. Certainly, big data has sparked a great deal of knowledge about the customer and their transactions, as well as purchasing preferences.

All of this focus on data correspondingly has put an emphasis on data management, accessibility and governance. After all, managing this large influx of data is now an important task, especially with the growth of AI. But connecting with people remains important. The human experience should remain the central core.

In a Kantar study on the future of insights, “Empathy: the foundation of your future insights organization,” the company identified three areas that it feels are key to building empathy with customers: “The first is ‘enriched resources,’ which is about ensuring that your organization has access to the right data in order to understand the humans behind it – including culture and context in customer databases. The second is a ‘composite perspective’ or the ability to fuse all the data and connect the dots. This enables organizations to see patterns and learnings across data sources, resulting in a multi-source view of the customer built on critical data rather than catch-all datasets. The final element is ‘human understanding’ which entails infusing data analysis with creative thinking to reach clear conclusions and demonstrates the ability to understand the human side of consumers.”

Developing the Softer Skill of Empathy

In All Things Insights’ “Learning the Soft Skills of Market Research,” we touched on empathy. Skills can be developed in a variety of ways in the insights workplace to create an effective, versatile employee with a diverse arsenal of competencies. In market research, both hard and soft skills are important and can be effectively developed through training both internally and externally. Hard skills may ensure that an employee is equipped and trained with the right skills to get the job done, such as analytics and data science. However, there are other softer, more behavioral types of skills that are more interpersonal, and relationship focused.

Looking forward to TMRE 2024? The conference, which will be held October 8 to 10, will feature the session, “Fireside Chat: The Future of Consumer-Led Marketing: How AI is Changing the Game with Insights and Empathy,” presented by Jonas Nielsen, CMO, GetWhy. In this fireside chat, we will dive into how implementing qualitative consumer insights early and often will be transformative for marketing effectiveness. Key takeaways include: How technology is enabling near real-time qualitative insights for creative testing and GTM strategy; increasing consumer input equals higher returns; and consumer perspectives in the creative process are invaluable. Register for TMRE 2024 here.

Connect with Your Audience

Empathy is a powerful tool in insights and market research, helping you understand your audience on a deeper level. We asked Gemini to outline some best practices for using empathy effectively:

Active Listening and Observation:

  • Go beyond the words: Pay close attention to nonverbal cues like body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions. These can reveal underlying emotions and motivations that words alone might not capture.
  • Ask open-ended questions: Encourage participants to elaborate and share their stories. This allows you to understand the “why” behind their answers.
  • Observe behavior: Look at how people interact with products or services in real-world settings. This can provide valuable insights into their needs and pain points.

Reduce Bias:

  • Be aware of your own biases: Recognize how your own experiences and assumptions might influence your interpretation of data.
  • Recruit a diverse sample: Ensure your research participants represent your target audience.
  • Challenge assumptions: Don’t jump to conclusions based on preconceived notions. Use data and observations to inform your understanding.

Step into the Customer’s Shoes:

  • Use empathy mapping: This tool helps you visualize the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of your target audience.
  • Conduct in-depth interviews: Go beyond surveys and focus groups to have deeper conversations with individual participants.
  • Role-playing: Simulate real-world scenarios to gain a better understanding of how your audience interacts with your product or service.

Communicate with Empathy:

  • Use clear and concise language: Avoid jargon and technical terms that your audience might not understand.
  • Focus on the “why”: Don’t just present data, explain the emotional impact of your findings.
  • Tell stories: Use real-life examples to illustrate your insights and connect with your audience on a human level.

Getting Proactive with Empathy

The market researcher can leverage empathy to gain deeper customer insights and develop products and services that truly resonate with their needs. Remember, empathy is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Continuously strive to understand your audience better and use those insights to inform your research and business decisions. A human-centric approach is the starting point, while empowering empathy in your research could very well take things to the next level of understanding.

As QualSights notes in its blog, “Global Consumer Empathy,” “Understanding your audience, all the way down to the very core of their being, is the only way your brand will be able to give them the products they truly desire and experiences they rave about. Consumers are more than just consumers—they’re humans. Make sure your research approach treats them as such.”

Video courtesy of RealEye

Contributor

  • Matt Kramer

    Matthew Kramer is the Digital Editor for All Things Insights & All Things Innovation. He has over 20 years of experience working in publishing and media companies, on a variety of business-to-business publications, websites and trade shows.

    View all posts

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