Photo by Jacqueline Munguía on Unsplash

Using Qualitative Research To Optimize Your Customer Experience.

Online businesses are almost always obsessed with their numbers (quantitative data.) Most will use it to define their top level strategy for getting more customers to use their service/product.

The problem here is, though there’s nothing quite like being able to look at numbers, they only help answer questions about what is or isn’t working, where problems are cropping up, and how much traffic a page is leaking and  that is where the show ends. Magic over.

Unlike quantitative data which gives you the “what” is or is not working on your conversion funnel, qualitative data gives you an answer to the “why” behind customer behaviors on your website.
It tells you the why behind the what, where, and how much, in order to make changes your website visitors will find meaningful.

Is Qualitative Research Like Mind Reading?

I would like to start off by saying no, it is not mind reading but it comes pretty close. Qualitative research is unique in the sense that it helps identify the underlying motivations behind your customer behaviors. It gives you a clearer picture of their decision making process. When done right, you will be able to:

  • Identify their biggest pain points and the reason(s) for seeking out your product/service.
  • Understand their motivations, wants, and desires.
  • Become aware of their understanding of your product/service and.
  • Highlight their concerns, doubts, and hesitations to using your product/service.

How Do I Get My Customers To Give Me Insights ?

Thankfully, this is a lot easier than digging around your analytics platform. There are various methods one can use to get their customers to give them feedback on what changes/improvements can be made to optimize their journey.

In the years we’ve spent running research on numerous website, we refined our processes and focused on 4 methods. We believe these 4 methods would be most useful for whatever goal you have set for your qualitative research.

  • Customer Support Logs/Live Chat Transcripts: Live chats are a feature on your website that helps your customers have direct contact with your business. This is why it is an incredibly valuable resource for mining information that can help you identify problems or opportunities.
    Customer support logs are used to ensure complaints are handled in a timely manner and do not slip through the cracks.
    This makes it an important resource for mining for first party data in your support logs can help you identify trends.
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash
  • Website Exit/Intent Surveys: This is another great method of collecting feedback from visitors on your website. Using a well thought out prompt, you can ask visitors to answer to why they are exiting a specific page or the website. Giving answers to your landing page exit rates, your sign-up form exits or your shopping cart abandonment rate.
A demo of a website exit survey on a desktop by wisepops
  • Past Customer Surveys: This method is used to collect feedback from customers who recently completed a purchase from you.
    The way it works is there is usually a set number of questions that address your products, services, customer service, and their perception of your business. In return, they get incentives (such as discount codes, gift cards, special offers) for answering the questions.
  • User Testing Sessions: There is a stark difference in what you think visitors are doing on your website and what they are actually doing. User testing sessions are typically set-up to observe how customers interact with your website. We use this method to discover key findings that can guide design changes that improve the experience on your website.
    User testing sessions can set-up in different ways but since there is a pandemic happening, we can safely stick to online sessions. Here, we set a list of tasks that mimic what an average customer journey on your website is like.
    Then we split the participants between two categories of device users. The participants in the session talk their way through each task, describing what their experience is like.
    This is necessary because when the participants voice out their observations, we start to see how each task has an effect on their state of mind. Afterwards, they fill out a short quiz on what their experience was like. If they have any suggestions or observations to offer, they include it.

How Do I Start Collecting Qualitative Data ? Begin WIth The End In Mind.

One thing you have to take note of is, you need to be intentional about what information you want from your customers when running qualitative research. Downloading a random template from the internet is simply not good enough. If you want to get the best quality of data from your research we suggest having a goal. Which in turn will point you in the right direction to create questions you need to ask.

Once you have a goal, you need a framework to guide you so you get the best results from your research.

  1. Relevance: We need to emphasize that you must not download random templates online to use in your research. Your questions have to be inline with the goal of the research and relevant to the task at hand.
  2. Focus on Open Ended Questions: When framing your questions, you need to avoid asking polar questions. Focus on those that require more than a yes or no. The goal is to get them to express themselves as openly as possible.
  3. Keep the Number of Questions to a Minimum: If you have ever spent time filling an online survey, you will be familiar with the feeling of rising anger when you start to notice that the questions keep coming. You don’t like it and your customers will definitely not like it. Keep your online survey within the range of 6 to 10 questions. Your website pop up surveys should be even shorter, not more than 2 questions.
  4. Keep It Simple And Straight To The Point: All good survey questions are easy to understand. The more complex questions you ask, the higher the chances of receiving answers that make no sense to you. Remember, keep it simple and straight to the point.
Photo by Edu Lauton on Unsplash
Photo by Edu Lauton on Unsplash


Qualitative research can transform how your business operates and power strategies that will help you get your customer retention up. Qualitative research cannot work on its own, so it needs to be informed by its counterpart, Quantitative research. Together, you can use the insights gathered to gain leverage that will help optimize your customer experience.
If you need help putting all of this together for your business, you can leave us a comment and we will get back to you. I hope you were able to learn something today!

By Ore Akinnawo

A self guided learner who is passionate about conversion optimization, web analytics and data driven strategy.

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