Conducting research is all about answering questions—and the results you discover can either drive your business forward…or hold it back. We all know research is critical for identifying your firm’s content issues and topics, but it can also create additional opportunities to support and engage your clients. Taking advantage of these opportunities can have a significant impact on your firm’s growth and profitability. Firms that conducted frequent research reported a 33 percent rate of growth, compared to a 20 percent growth rate from firms that conducted only occasional research.

But how can you ensure the research you’re conducting will affect client experience? To start, ask yourself two questions: 1) What is important to your clients? and, 2) What services are important to your firm? By identifying the overlap between these two questions, you can discover the issues that most deserve your focus.

From there, turn to the three primary types of research that can enhance your clients’ experience: brand research, market research, and project research.

3 Types of Research Used to Enhance the Client Experience

Brand Research

Brand research is used to reduce the gaps in perception among your target audiences. Through brand research, your firm can not only gain a better understanding of your target audiences, but also identify your true competitive advantage.

By finding the differentiators that set your firm apart from the competition, you can help clarify for clients why your services are the right choice for their needs. Since high growth firms are three times more likely to have a strong differentiator, establishing your firm as a resource — rather than a commodity — will make you more appealing to prospects. Aligning your voice to your clients’ key issues also allows for a more focused effort and puts your firm on track to win more new business.

Market Research

With market research, your firm gains the information it needs to act on realities — not assumptions. You’ll obtain a better understanding of the trends and opportunities that allow for more specific targeting and messaging. Whether your research yields specific statistics to support your messaging or gives you the insight you need to adjust your market strategies, you’ll know you’re deciding based on trends and facts, not guesses.

Since market research is research specifically conducted to answer questions related to your firm’s clients, it can also help you determine how your services can create a better client experience. Market research also identifies trends and opportunities for new services in the marketplace, so you’ll know if your firm has the potential to fill a gap. You can discover the best language and messaging to connect with your target audiences and gain the confidence you need to launch and package a new service.

Project Research

Though it doesn’t have the broader scale that brand research and marketing research have, project research can provide equally significant insights. Project research allows you to learn lessons from client feedback on specific projects. From project research, you can address performance issues to make strategic operation improvements, increasing the chances of client satisfaction. However, project research isn’t just about setting your firm up to do better next time. This engagement with your clients to collect their feedback can also help create advocates and encourage repeat work.

By giving your clients the opportunity to have a voice and provide feedback, you demonstrate how important their positive experience is to your firm. This creates an immediate and tactical benefit for retention, while also helping you learn which client experience trends can be adjusted for the future. There’s not a single accepted statistic, but most sources agree that it is between 5 – 10 times more difficult and costly to win new business. Retention is important for both profitability and the reputation of your firm.

By differentiating among these three types of research, you can use each to further the client engagement. Depending on your current client experience goals, one type of research may be more effective than the others. Regardless, the bottom line remains the same: research is critically important to the success, growth, and reputation of your firm. If you aren’t using research to enhance client experience, now’s the time to begin.

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** You’re invited to participate in the Hinge 2018 High Growth Study research project. Click here to take this confidential survey. When you participate you’ll receive a pre-release copy of the research report, a webinar that will describe the findings, and an entry to win an Apple Watch. Deadline to participate is November 17th.