More and more, companies are making decisions based on consumer data. Most of the data is good. Sometimes the data is bad. And when you’re fortunate, the data can be breakthrough.

We recently onboarded a new client who came in confident that their core consumer fell into a specific set of demographics. But during recruitment, we discovered that hundreds of people were disqualified based on their demographics. As soon as we opened the requirements to welcome a broader range, our community was flooded with hundreds of happy, excited customers. We had helped our client avoid a potentially catastrophic oversight – collecting data from the wrong people.

If you don’t know who your consumer is, how can you know what your consumer wants?

Here at Fuel Cycle, our entire mission is to help our clients better understand what their customers want so they can, in turn, produce higher value goods and services, design more impactful marketing strategies, and discover new opportunities for development.

I repeat: discover new opportunities for development. This is where the magic happens.

It happens through listening. Passionate employees of any company pride themselves on being the experts in their space. And that’s true, to an extent. Implore a little deeper, and you’ll likely come to agree that they are experts at producing the product and that their customers are the experts when it comes to using the product.

Fixed response survey questions engage the respondent in a limiting, one-sided conversation.

By presenting survey-takers with pre-packaged options and asking them to choose one or even “all that apply,” you are limiting the feedback you could be collecting. While certain circumstances warrant this type of approach, it’s important to hold space for your “expert users” to tell you their side of the story, in their own words. Open-ended survey questions, discussions, live chats, and member-generated forums are opportunities for this type of organic feedback.

Organic feedback has the power change the course of your company forever.

Another client recently fielded a survey around product rituals, after which members landed in an open-ended discussion where they were free to continue the conversation amongst themselves. Responses were astonishing. Many members shared stories about using the product in a way our client had never thought of, quickly transforming a regular follow-up discussion into breakthrough research. By merely listening to their users’ stories, this company stumbled upon a new opportunity that could fuel the future of their brand.