Thinking in the Long Term: How Diary Studies Can Improve Your Business’ Bottom Line

By the Editors

Chances are you are probably familiar with product reviews. You probably look at them frequently when you are purchasing something online, or access them from your mobile device in-store as you’re browsing the aisles. In fact, the majority of businesses now provide access to reviews to help future shoppers make purchasing decisions. They are a useful tool for both retailers and potential customers alike.

As useful as they may be, customer reviews have their limitations. Shoppers most often review products during two specific time frames: immediately after they receive and assemble their new item or if the product happens to break. Most often, even the most well-crafted reviews are emotionally driven. Customers are either excited about their recent acquisition while writing or they are angry because the product they enjoyed is no longer useful to them. Very few people will actually go back and update their original product review as they continue to use the product over time. So while business owners and other consumers may be able to identify some common likes and issues with products based on static reviews, their scope tends to be fairly limited.

We’ve touched upon the concept of diary studies in the past, but many consumers and business owners may be unfamiliar with them. Basically, a diary study is like a more dynamic product review. A shopper purchases an item and their feedback on the product is tracked over time, rather than shortly after the sale or immediately after an item breaks. Diary studies provide a much more complete picture of how customers are using a particular product, what they like about it, and what they feel can be improved. The duration of a diary study can vary based on how much customer feedback a company is interested in gathering. Some can last days, others months.

The way that customers deliver feedback in diary studies has evolved over time. Traditionally, diary studies were conducted in a journal format using a pen and paper. But as mobile technology has seen explosive growth, real-time diary study feedback is collected directly from customers’ smartphones and tablets. Mobile streamlines the process by making it convenient for participants to share their thoughts quickly and easily. Plus, the increased convenience factor increases the likelihood of customer participation. It’s a win-win for both consumers and business owners.

The feedback gathered through diary studies can be helpful in a few different ways for businesses. Not only can a diary study help paint a more comprehensive picture about what customers like and dislike about a particular item, they can also be executed to help inform the development of future products.

Let’s use a software company as an example. Every few years, Company X releases a new version of a popular software program. They’ve chosen to elicit the help of customers through diary studies in the months after new product launches to help them gain better insight on usability, features, and the positives and negatives of each version. Company X can then uses this feedback to help them create new and improved software packages for their customers in the future. Diary studies conducted by Company X have helped them tailor their products to meet their customers’ needs, resulting in a significant increase in sales with each new product launch.

If you are a business owner who is seeking more in-depth customer feedback about a particular product, a diary study may provide the level of insight that you need. SSI can help you get started today with a mobile diary study that will improve your products and sales in the long-term!