Product research is a crucial component of successful software product development. By understanding customer needs, preferences, and behaviors, technology companies can create products that create value for their customers and differentiate in the marketplace. Research helps businesses learn more about their target audience and users’ desired outcomes to develop features and functionality that increase customer engagement and dependency. Let’s face it, the name of the game is getting your customers addicted to your tool or platform. In addition, software product research provides valuable data that businesses can use to optimize customer acquisition and retention motions.
To date, product research has been conducted through surveys, focus groups, and customer interviews. Traditionally, surveys have been emailed to customers immediately to gather qualitative and qualitative feedback. More recently, product experience platforms have given product researchers access to more dynamic in-app surveys, product usage analytics, and the ability to launch traditional surveys with fewer resources.
Customer interviews allow one to ask specific questions and dig deeper into customer motivations, pain points, and specific use cases. Interviews can be extremely useful when businesses try to develop new products or determine how to enhance existing ones. Customer interviews can also provide valuable insights into desired integrations, services, and more.
Focus groups allow companies to observe how customers interact with products and better understand the user experience. Observing customers using the product can provide valuable insights that are unavailable through surveys or customer interviews. Additionally, observational research, such as shadowing customers in their own environment, can help uncover valuable insights that would otherwise remain hidden.
At the end of the day, what do all of the traditional product research methods have in common? They are labor-intensive, expensive, and time-consuming, requiring intricate expertise and specialization to operate. Another drawback to traditional product research methods is that the data and insights generated are typically used by a small group and not leveraged across the enterprise.
ChatGPT, the AI-powered natural language understanding (NLU) platform that helps automate conversations has catapulted AI into the business mainstream. Aside from being all the rage, business leaders are adopting AI now more than ever because of technological advancements that have made it more accurate and faster to deploy. Additionally, AI is becoming increasingly affordable, allowing businesses of all sizes to benefit from the latest advances in artificial intelligence. Furthermore, the increased availability of data has allowed for more sophisticated algorithms and models to be used, enabling better decision-making and providing a competitive edge for businesses that use AI.
Product leaders recognize that customer expectations are changing rapidly, and AI can help them stay ahead of the curve. While AI and its practical applications are evolving quickly, here are a few ways that advanced data sciences are already impacting product research.
AI automation can take over mundane tasks such as data collection and normalization (cleaning or standardizing data for reuse and analysis), freeing up teams’ time to focus on more strategic initiatives. AI also facilitates the data cleaning and preprocessing (data joining and integration) activities required to glean knowledge from the raw data.
Privacy issues are often a roadblock for product researchers. Teams must be careful how they use personal data (PII) to discover product insights. Privacy restrictions and personal data limitations challenge legacy experimentation and research methods. AI is paving the way to alleviate these concerns so teams can move quickly. New advances in PII Identification, de-Identification, synthetic PII generation, and pseudonymization provide teams with tools to iterate and innovate faster than ever without jeopardizing privacy regulations.
AI-powered platforms are making it possible to sift through data using natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning algorithms to quickly analyze large amounts of customer-generated information like email, tickets, call transcripts, and more. These data sets have, for the most part, been hard to access given, among other things, their unstructured nature. AI-based tools can search for patterns and recognize key signals that might be difficult and even impossible for humans to spot, especially at scale.
AI is already accelerating product research by enabling teams to quickly and accurately collect, clean, and identify trends in customer behaviors related to product usage and specific future use cases. AI-based platforms can analyze vast amounts of data in real time, helping companies make decisions faster while reducing costs associated with human labor. Additionally, using natural language processing (NLP), companies can automate text-based research tasks, such as discovering specific product-related insights, which would otherwise take an immense amount of time and resources. With the help of AI, teams can gain valuable insights into their products more efficiently and more effectively than ever before.
Every business wants to stay ahead of the competition. We’ve got a saying here at Sturdy; “your customers are either growing with you or away from you.” And, if you think about it, you are just trying to develop a relationship with your customers to create trust and loyalty. To that end, one of the fundamental tenants of any healthy relationship is listening. Yup. It’s that simple.