The truth is out there.
As the world's only consulting detective focused solely on consumer behavior...
However, not all interviewers or interview styles are created equal. Most qualitative researchers or consumer and marketplace insights companies are ill-equipped to separate the "wheat from the chaff" and provide actual insights from interviews. There are four reasons why:
They lie on purpose and they lie without knowing it. Simply asking questions isn't enough, and that is what most interviewers do. So how can you get to the truth? By listening to what people say while observing what they do. As a battle-tested metropolitan police detective, I have surfaced the truth in high-stakes scenarios; literally when lives were on the line. I have the training and experience to dig beneath the questions and read the person. I am a human lie detector.
"Everybody lies." - Dr. Gregory House
People naturally relate to stories. They go far beyond relaying facts and data; they make the complex clear. This is precisely why news reporters and police officers have expertise in eliciting the stories from others to gather facts. The problem is, most interviewers follow a rigid discussion guide that actually prevents them from getting the whole story. I have conducted interviews as both a consumer psychologist and a police detective that have unearthed the functional, social, and emotional components of an experience. The result? A deep and crucial understanding of the customer and their perspective.
"Sometimes reality is too complex. Stories give it form." - Jean Luc Godard
There is a ton of attention given to "big data" and quantitative methods. The problem is, these methods are only as good as the data, assumptions, and variables they are built upon. In an effort to give clients "numbers" to base decisions on, most market research firms lose sight of the importance of defining what the customer actually means, the impact of the environment, or exploring other hypothesis. As a detective, I built cases by looking at all the clues; not just some of them.
"To a great mind, nothing is little." - Sherlock Holmes
Using data about the past to predict the future is no more effective than flipping a coin. Why? Because there are a ton of variables and environmental factors that aren't captured by historical statistical data. Making predictions based upon this without optics into what is happening now, or what is possible in the future, can lead you to miss signals that are necessary for the survival of your business. Think about Blockbuster, Toys 'R' Us, or Nokia phones. All market leaders at one time. All ignored signals of change. None of these businesses are flourishing today. Most consumer researchers look to the past to predict the future without consideration of the environment, trends, or sentiment. As a detective, I was trained to examine the entire picture.
"We balance probabilities and choose the most likely. It is the scientific use of the imagination" - Sherlock Holmes
I empower product and engineering teams (creators and makers), who do not have access to an "in-house" research function, to conduct rapid, rigorous, and relevant interviews to solve the right problems for their business and customers.
Think of me as a modern day, consumer-focused, Sherlock Holmes - I investigate "real-world" consumer behavior in context. Then, with surgical precision, I help you use that information to better serve your customers or audience.
I am an expert in interviewing people to uncover the truth. I discover insights that others can't by leveraging my experience as a metropolitan police detective, my background as a consumer psychologist, and my training in consumer and market research.
When you have the truth - the information your competitors wish they had - you can make better decisions. When you make better decisions, you can save time, effort, and money.
“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” - Sherlock Holmes
Frequently Asked Questions
There are striking parallels between good research and good detective work. Both seek to establish the truth through a trail of evidence with the aim to arrive at a solution. Both are potentially high-stakes. Most importantly, both operate in a world of uncertainty and must revise existing predictions or theories given new or additional evidence. My method combines the best methods in the field of criminal investigation with cutting-edge research methods and tools in consumer research.
No other consumer psychologist (to my knowledge) has this combined expertise.
If only it were that simple. The type of processes, tools, and methods employed depend on a myriad of factors; in fact, any researcher worth their salt will tell you, “it depends.”
Oftentimes, people think about research in terms of a qualitative-quantitative dichotomy, where quantitative research is considered more rigorous and thought of as the "platinum standard," and qualitative research is "softer," and better suited for "directional decision-making." This leads to a scenario where people "shop" methods rather than look for an answer to their business problem. In reality, the best "method" is a balance of the two.
Consider this, every survey contains a qualitative component. If you ignore this, you get biased data. The good news is that I can help you sort this out.
That said, there is no universally accepted "best method." In short, I would caution against making qualitative or quantitative generalizations and would recommend using the method of inquiry best suited to answer the question.
I am going to be blunt here; you don't know what your customers want. The reality is your familiarity with your product or service breeds assumptions and blind spots. People who make or create a product think and talk about it fundamentally different than people who don’t. Research helps you push past your assumptions and blind spots and achieve your business objectives in two primary ways:
- It helps you ask high-value questions, and;
- It helps you rigorously answer those questions (balancing bias, reliability, and validity).
Ultimately, research helps you make more intelligent business decisions by focusing on what's important and therefore mitigating risk. The end result is significant savings in time, money, and effort for you and your team.
Absolutely not. In fact, doing research in advance of a project actually saves you money and time. Have you ever heard the proverb, "Measure twice, cut once?" Doing research in advance helps you "measure twice" to save valuable time and money by "getting it right" the first time.
The reality is, research does not need to be a long, drawn-out process that delays a project. I believe in a three-pronged approach; rapid, rigorous, and relevant. In fact, research can be "right-sized" or tailored to fit virtually any time or budget constraints while still adding epic value to a project.
Interviews add a level of rigor to gathering information. It also needs to be stated; rigor isn't simply writing questions down before you ask them. Interviewing is a learned skill that is fundamentally different than regular conversation; and it takes years of practice to develop expertise.
My secret formula ties together several concepts, mental models, and experience, including:
- Theoretical framing;
- Triangulation techniques;
- Inductive and deductive investigatory approaches;
- Forensic science;
- Cutting-edge research methods;
- Bayesian Thinking;
- A deep connection to applied decision-science; and
- Wicked-problem solving techniques.
My method yields the high-quality data you need to make more informed, and therefore better, decisions.
How can I help?
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