Monday, October 13, 2014

The Rise of the Visual Web: Why Quality Data Visualization Is Crucial

Cognitive psychology tells us that humans are wired to favor visuals over text. We process images faster. We remember visuals better. We find well-designed visuals more credible. And when credible images engage us, they trigger emotional processing that leads to creativity and higher-quality decision-making.

All of these things—speed, recall, credibility, engagement and quality decision-making—are critical to the delivery of market research insight and to a company’s ability to turn insight into strategies and actions.

The Rise of the Visual Web

The rise of the visual web is one factor fueling the growing popularity of research portals as a means for delivering insight and managing actions. Brands are increasingly turning away from static reports in favor of the engaging, interactive and often beautiful digital reporting that research portals offer.

Research portals are essentially one-stop shops for digitally driven and integrated data storage, reporting, action management and insight development. Market Strategies has been designing and delivering research portals since the 1990s. Over time, dramatic improvements in web-based technologies have led to increasingly sophisticated portal offerings, but the core functions and benefits of portals have remained largely unchanged. These include:

  • A central hub for research program activity. 

Portals integrate and report on studies across your research program. Dashboards create high-level views of summary metrics while scorecards, heat maps and filters allow users to drill down into increasingly detailed information, ending with individual responses. Portals also support document storage, sample management, quantitative and qualitative analyses, graph creation, file exporting and synthesis with Big Data.

Each dashboard view is built to your company’s needs, incorporating your brand’s color palette and key brand elements. A dashboard view can contain high-level, cross-study metrics or key metrics for a specific study, contingent upon each user’s role and permissions.

  • Interactive, user-customized reporting.

Web pages within the portal are dynamically rendered and populated based on each user’s particular permissions and roles in the organization. This helps each user receive the most relevant messages of the day, focus on what is most important in their role and drill down to a role-appropriate level. Interactivity takes many forms, including filters, “clickable” graphics that drill down into additional detail as well as analysis, graphing, exporting and sharing tools.

The above example uses a graphic filter based on geography to allow corporate-level users access to views of the total company, regions, districts and metros. Tools for zooming, clicking, dragging and dropping map sections help users quickly identify and drill into the area of interest.

  • Action management tools. 

Also known as “closed loop” or “hot alert” systems, portals also frequently support customer experience management activities. Such a system automatically notifies managers when action is needed, such as when a customer provides a low satisfaction rating on a survey. Management tools for routing alerts, managing follow up, quantifying the total action in the system and monitoring results are included to ensure customer feedback is addressed in a timely manner.

Beyond research value, survey responses serve as critical touch points that identify opportunities to rescue damaged relationships before they become lost business. The closed-loop feature in the Market Strategies portal provides the flexibility and sophistication to support all levels of Alert Management.

  • Real-time results. 

As data are received and cleaned, they are automatically uploaded to the portal and reflected in status reports. This is a useful option for managing sample and quotas, monitoring trend lines and supporting timely action management.

The Bonus of Quality Data Visualization

Portals help businesses understand and focus on customers. When the powerful engine that supports portal functionality is coupled with an engaging interface, your portal becomes a critical tool not only for researchers but also for executives, managers, strategy teams and your front-line staff. All stakeholders are armed with the insight needed to understand what’s important, manage action in the system and align activities to meet goals.

What’s more, portals increase efficiency by mitigating the need for researchers to create endless report versions for different stakeholders, as this is handled by the defined roles, permissions and dynamic population functions of the portal.

Well-visualized data deliver complex messages to users in a quick and stimulating way. When well visualized data are delivered via an interactive portal, they are often better received than traditional research reports for several reasons:

  • Speed. Portal visuals are specifically designed to make a point quickly without requiring lots of reading or sorting through flat tables of numbers.
  • Relevancy. Role-based filtering within the portal ensures the data each user sees are highly relevant.
  • Engagement. Portals can lead to greater insight and understanding because users have the ability to interactively explore the data and drill down in the path that’s most natural to them.
  • Retention. Users remember the data because they can share existing or new insight that they personally develop within portal applications.
  • Accessibility. Users can access insight and data where and when they want because portals are accessible via computer, tablet and smartphone.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dawn Palace is a Vice President in the Communications Division at Market Strategies International. She draws on more than 20 years of experience in market research and integrated marketing to help clients address their needs for business intelligence and transform insights into improvement strategies and marketing campaigns with measurable ROI. 

Dawn has helped clients create and launch brands, segment markets and deploy CRM programs, develop and launch new products, measure and optimize the customer experience, and improve employee engagement. Dawn received her doctorate and masters’ degrees from Wayne State University and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. Her passions outside of work include food, wine, volunteer work, and spectating at her children’s sporting events.

EDITOR'S NOTE:

Adapted and republished from the original here by permission of the author.

Market Strategies’ portal team includes specialists in data visualization and information design who deliver an engaging, company-branded interface to meet the needs of any research program.  Read how they partnered with AAA to improve its customer experience program, which included delivery of a customized research portal

We invite you to join Mark Willard and Mary Lee of AAA for “Revolutionizing CX: How AAA Turned Satisfied Customers into Loyal Advocates” at TMRE 2014 in Boca Raton (2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 21 in Room “Estate 1”). 

We’ll share how a new measurement program and a built-in, closed-loop system revolutionized AAA’s member experience program and empowered employees across the organization to make immediate and lasting improvements in customer experience. 

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