Accumulation and analysis of data are key revenue drivers in modern times. It helps businesses create better customer and employee experiences. There’s little doubt that digitally organized information can change the face of company operations. Anyone involved in the field inevitably comes up against quantitative and qualitative research usefulness, methods, and applicability. This article aims at clarifying the differences and complimentary benefits of each category.
So what is quantitative research?
Quantitative research is pretty much up-and-down, black-and-white in nature with narrow latitude for analysts to use their imagination. Most researchers err on the side of quantitative analysis because it’s easier to derive, develop, and present. It provides room to construct tables, graphs, and infographics, that zone in on proving or disproving a preconceived theory.
The troubling questions are twofold:
- Was the theory a good one to begin with?
- If the argument falls away on the quantitative evidence, what takes its place?
The answer to question 1 is nothing – it’s a dead end. To question 2, it boils down to this: Even disproved notions have a silver lining in the gloom and doom of disappointment. Without added qualitative back-up, few projects get off the ground.
So what is qualitative research?
Numbers can give you only so much. That’s where qualitative research slips into the equation. It throws substantially more light on the numerical trends by providing insight into customer and employee reasons, opinions, and motivations that fuel actions in the real world. We need to know what’s happening, of course, but why the statistics emerged as they did may be far more groundbreaking. When it comes down to building a qualitative research framework, inference is more important than exactness – intimation more helpful than pinpoint accuracy.
The difference between qualitative and quantitative research
Qualitative research opens up a world in which researchers have access to the emotions and thoughts that spur people to do what they do. If groups with buying power think and feel the same way most of the time, given a set of circumstances, you have the makings of a marketplace. If you can get into their hearts and minds, you’re on an excellent path to predicting behavior.
Here’s the thing:
- Thinking of it as a contest is misleading – the methodologies are actually on the same team – a relay team.
- Quantitative research, once it has run as fast or as far as it can, hands the baton over to Qualitative Research for the final leg of the journey.
When to use qualitative and quantitative research methods
“When” is the keyword, not if. While qualitative research can seem like more work to analyze, enterprises that benefit from qualitative surveys will tell you that participants’ own words add significant depth to the raw statistics. To be proficient at this critical aspect of research, you need to:
- Understand the value of small group interactions, commonly known as focus groups.
- Be ready to apply single-person in-depth interviews to get to the crux of some human motivations.
- Hire interviewers who can simulate the interviewee’s environment when designing questionnaires, even though they live in different realities.
- Methodically chronicle respondents’ inner feelings and thoughts in video, audio, or written formats.
- Appreciate the usefulness of customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX) obstructions under controlled conditions.
Let’s put it this way. Whenever a solution rests on open-mindedness, behavioral exploration, and a deeper understanding of why the statistically verified trends are the way they are, qualitative research solutions are essential. They are a fundamental ingredient of the data to improve customer experience. It adds depth and breadth to any research program, relieving it from the more sterile treatment of purely statistical conclusions.
How to find the right balance between the two methodologies?
We have outlined the benefits of qualitative research at length. The negatives are:
- Timelines are lengthy
- Research resources and skills are costly to access.
- The antagonists frequently attack it because the sample sizes are significantly smaller than traditional quantitative surveys. Therefore, they cast doubt on the veracity of the conclusions.
Advocates for qualitative research point out that trained interviewers create reliable results based on their ability to remove subjectivity from the process. There’s no final answer to the debate, except that if qualitative research failed to produce valuable insight, it would be a defunct strategy by now. Instead, it’s a growing discipline and very much part of the research conversation.
So, what do we do?
Want to understand the complexity of opportunities provided by any market research survey tool in an organization’s armory? The following questions help one to measure the balance between quantitative and qualitative tools before the research begins:
- How important is it to know the customer’s emotional connection to the brand?
- Is mapping the CX vital to removing obstacles toward a buy action and beyond?
- To what extent does customer support create value for our brand and selling proposal? If extensive, can agent indifference or lack of training create substantial headwinds in the customer journey?
- How sure is the management of all the features attached to the product or service under scrutiny? Is the company over- or under-selling? Where and Why?
- What is the tone and language connected to word-of-mouth discussion around the brand? Is it tinged with disappointment, frustration, or even anger on the one end, or elation, smiles, and satisfaction on the other?
- What do we do with neutrality – no opinion one way or another?
- In this digital era, it’s not enough to know that website visitors are bouncing. Why are they bouncing? What keeps them engaged in our message? With most businesses increasing their online presence, responses to these questions are integral to success.
- Marketing dynamics overflow into the employee ranks. How is the staff feeling about things and their contribution to the company’s vision and missions? Demotivated employees tie in closely to customer churn.
One thing’s for sure – Qualitative vs Quantitative Research is not a contest. They’re two sides of the same coin.
How Sogolytics’s research survey tool can help gather the data
Don’t underestimate the marketing skills around the combination of quantitative and qualitative research. It’s not only the degree of each discipline that counts but the timing of each. Optimal integration depends on being at the right place at the right time, and that also goes for market research.
Recognizing the immense value of an organized marketing research program is the first big step. In that case, it’s time for you to consider partnering with Sogolytics. The company is a dedicated customer and employee experience consultant able to zone in on the industry’s most penetrating survey tools. Sogolytics is involved 24/7/365 to help businesses in the SMB category, and enterprise-class alike get the answers to their most searching questions. They do it by anticipating the “whys” for every quantitative metric to get things across the finish line. Taking the guesswork out of EX and CX research requires professional expertise. Sogolytics is up for the job.