At HSBC, customers are at the heart of everything we do. That means we are always striving to deliver insights that meet the increasing pace and complexity of business and customer requirements. To do that effectively, we have taken a new approach to research – one that blends innovative and traditional B2B research methodologies to give us faster, deeper and more agile insight while also providing valid and credible results.
When size isn’t everything
A common belief among our customers and competitors is that undertaking research in an organisation the size of HSBC must be an easy task because larger budgets would naturally remove any potential barriers. In reality, though, our scale is often one of our biggest issues. The challenges we face as a global insight team are:
- Our global scale, with extensive projects and multiple stakeholders across various time zones and cultures;
- An extremely commercial environment with rapidly changing market conditions and expectations from the business to deliver fresh, actionable insight within aggressive timescales;
- A highly regulated B2B banking industry with complex legal and compliance procedures and a difficult-to-reach B2B audience who are time poor.
With these challenges, there is a temptation to stay with what you know and take the safe option with regard to research. Yet we believe that taking the safest route may not always produce the best-in-class results we want and customers expect.
Always on and ready
To be successful in today’s quickly changing business and banking environment, our customers need insight on a regular and ongoing basis to aid decision making and drive strategy. We began to realise the way we conduct research must evolve along with the marketplace so that we can deliver more meaningful insights and results.
Initially, our recommendations for implementing innovative research methods were met with some trepidation. However, it was agreed that we would embark on our journey to create a new and improved global insight ecosystem with caution. As a result, we have begun moving away from the traditional large-scale, stand-alone research projects that communicate
annual metrics and findings and toward a more agile and reactive approach.
By scaling back large programmes, such as our global customer satisfaction survey, and taking a more frequent modular approach, our goal is to continually monitor shifting sentiments. This ‘always on and always ready’ outlook to research will allow us to:
- Gain a current view of customer needs and experiences
- Stay up-to-date with market changes and opportunities;
- Proactively answer business challenges and respond to customer needs;
- Deliver timely and relevant insight.
Try and apply a new approach
As part of our transition to an always on and always ready state, we began exploring new methodologies that would allow us to conduct research in an expedient, cost-effective and innovative way.
We discovered a number of agencies, each with interesting and unique new offerings. We chose to trial two of the most unfamiliar approaches for a B2B financial services research and insight team; Google Consumer Surveys and social media listening.
At first, we were unsure whether Google Consumer Surveys would give us access to our niche and specific target audience. However, we found that by utilising the full suite of options within the tool, such as occupation targeting and custom panels, we can provide faster insight while maintaining the accuracy of pre-existing surveying techniques.
Although employing social media listening for customer experience and reputational insight is not new to the bank, using it to draw out strategic insights on corporate customers is something fairly pioneering.
With customers and prospects already using social media to express their views and opinions on pertinent topics and themes, ‘strategic social media listening’ offers an opportunity to use non-solicited feedback and passive listening to identify insights without needing to engage our time poor and difficult-to-reach target sample.
This approach also facilitates predictive foresight by providing the capability for broader listening and identification of emerging themes. We were keen for this formalised and enhanced social media listening tactic not to be anchored in pre-defined topics, but driven by what is being discussed the most among businesses or leading influencers both in relation to HSBC and the wider banking and finance sector.
To do this, we agreed a fluid approach to keyword lists and channel sources, to allow us to draw out insights beyond what we think we know is being talked about in the social media sphere.
A brave new world
Why move away from the tried-and-true research methodologies? We understand that we must embrace newer trends, not only as a way to enhance differentiation, but also to manage shrinking timelines, ensure effective use of budget and deliver the desired always on and always ready approach. Our current solution employs social media listening intelligence and Google Consumer Surveys to deliver timely results.
However, we are not stopping here. Now we have started on this path, we intend to continue and add to our toolkit of approaches by reaching out beyond the traditional insight ecosystem to explore, embrace, blend and enhance. And when we have done that, we will do it all over again – keeping HSBC at the forefront of B2B research and insight.