18 December 2018

Miranda Essex is Senior Inventor at ?What If! London

Even with the best intentions, organisations can always do more to listen to their customers. At the Customer Experience Conference in February, ?What If! will shed light on original and impactful techniques to get deep tenant insights which can fuel new ideas and rapid improvements in services you offer.

Housing associations were founded with the social purpose of serving those in need of affordable housing. Up and down the country, there are a myriad of ways housing associations are listening to their customers, from home visits, to tenant panels and tenant seats on boards.

We know from our work on the National Housing Federation’s ground-breaking Greenhouse programme that housing associations want to do even more of this valuable customer insight work. Faced with an operating environment increasingly defined by change, housing associations want to innovate and recognise that a deep understanding of their customers is the key.

It’s time to try a new approach to get to the heart of what your tenants need.

?What If! is the largest independent innovation company in the world. We’ve spent 26 years honing our approach to insight, designing creative ways to get to the heart of the problems you’re trying to solve. We’ve developed a range of tried and tested insight tools and techniques that support organisations to innovate effectively which we’ll share with you at the event. Here are just a few of the principles and tips we’ll cover:

1. Expose bias

We all have biases. One of the downsides of years of valuable experience can be that it leads to that feeling of ‘I’ve seen this all before.’ This is an attitude, which stifles innovation, but it can be overcome. If you have biases and assumptions, get them out in the open so that you can listen to your customer through a more objective lens.

2. Live their lives

A conversation with customers isn’t enough. Live a day in their lives: follow their schedule, meet their friends, visit where they work… you’ll get a real feeling for their highs and lows. During the insights stage of the Greenhouse, each member of the People Powered team spent one week with a budget of £25 to cover all food, travel and entertainment. This enabled the team to get closer to the realities of the day-to-day lives of the people they were solving for.

3. Go deep

Don’t just speak to your most common customer archetype, or the most vociferous. Look for more unusual customers to find inspiration and develop your understanding. ?What If! often speaks to unusual consumers for inspiration – such as super-users who collect the product or depend on it for their jobs.

4. The five whys

Always look below the surface. When you ask questions, question what might seem obvious. And then question again. Asking open questions and lots of ‘whys’ encourages people to explain their true feelings and motivations.

5. Get everyone involved

Customer insight isn’t just for those in customer facing roles. Everyone can learn from listening to customers. It’s inspiring to see the link between what you do and how it helps people, and we often see new ideas coming from the most unusual places!

This is just a taster of some of the key principles we’ll cover in an interactive session designed to radically reframe how you think about your customer to rapidly enhance services.

Catch Miranda and her colleague Sarah at 14:20 talking knowing your customer and challenging preconceptions. Find out more about what's on the agenda here.

Miranda Essex

Miranda Essex is Senior Inventor at ?What If! London

An energetic activity-lover, Miranda is happiest when she has a challenge to solve. Passionate about understanding consumers, Miranda ensures she is always on top of the latest tools for generating real insights, successfully distilling key information from swathes of data.

Studying Geography at Oxford fuelled Miranda’s curiosity into an array of topics, from globalisation to climate change and she is currently reading for a MSt in Social Innovation. Having started her career at P&G in Brand Management, she has practical experience of launching products, continually refining brand strategy to improve results. Her breadth of interests means she likes to approach problems from unique angles, getting to the heart of the problem via unusual routes.

A lover of travel, Miranda aims to go on a big adventure every year, perhaps combined with a physical challenge. When she’s not being active, she can also be found singing or conjuring up a new and exciting recipe.

Five tips for gaining more meaningful customer insights