The most trustworthy and reliable way to get customer feedback is through testing. There are too many situational and psychological biases that make it difficult for consumers to give accurate answers to hypothetical survey questions. Want an example?
We conducted a qualitative survey for our HR department trying to optimize office snack offerings and operational efficiencies. The survey results came back asking for the biodegradable K-cups because the employees said they wanted to be more sustainable. We then tested this optimization only to find that the biodegradable K-cups went relatively unused, and we were running out of normal K-cups early. Given what the survey results indicated what employees wanted, the HR department found the test results confounding.
We collected more data and found that employees felt the biodegradable options lost freshness when stored in the same easily accessible containers as the other K-cups. The second test iteration evolved to include an airtight container for the biodegradable options, but employees still showed preference to the less sustainable K-cups.
We watched employees who used the biodegradable K-cups to understand how the experience was different. We found that because there was only one container, the employees had to search through to find their preferred roast, and the experience took more than 3x as long as those employees who simply chose a less sustainable K-cup from the drawer.
The final test iteration included multiple airtight storage containers to speed up the coffee selection process.
How does office coffee selection relate back to testing? The initial survey results weren’t wrong, but they were misleading. Employees do value sustainability, but not more than they value their time. Imagine the implications of this if, rather than one company’s HR department, this was a consumer package goods company redesigning their product line to better align with the values and preferences of millions of consumers. Going to market with an untested product is an expensive and unnecessary risk.
If you’re trying to instill the values of testing in your organizational culture, begin by questioning assumptions on big bets. Ask “what do we need to believe for this to be true,” then test everything you can before you take that leap.
As employees see results roll in and new hypotheses form, they will learn not to take assumptions for granted, and they will begin to constantly ask why, uncovering more and more actionable consumer insights.
Successful entrepreneurs — those who are creating companies from scratch as well as those who are innovating solutions for well established brands — understand the power of testing, and they test everything.