Bring your team on a Customer Safari

9 October, 2016 Innovation

Did you know that first hand experiences are generally more valuable than second hand knowledge? Actually, the strongest insights come from what you have experienced yourself.

The Customer Safari

A Customer Safari in short means leaving the conference room, to go out and witness facts and realities yourself and with your colleagues that are far beyond typical customer data.

On a Customer Safari you would normally look into different situations in the life of the customer – no matter if we are talking about B2B or B2C. By observing the customer and coming to understand his or her everyday, the actual problems, passions and priorities of the customers become clearer. Not only in relation to your own product, but in relation to the everyday lives and jobs-to-be done by the customer.

Undertaking a Customer Safari is probably particularly valuable for professionals who don’t meet with their customers frequently enough to understand their drivers, needs and daily behaviors – from management teams in strategy mode, to marketing and R&D teams looking into innovation opportunities.

A Customer Safari is normally divided into three parts and led by a facilitator:

  1. In a first meeting with the project team, the Safari-members develop and agree with the facilitator on the overall challenge and questions to be researched. Also, the facilitator provides guidance in relation to relevant research methodology (normally basic observation and interviewing techniques) and how to best approach the situation.
  2. The field work – or the Customer Safari itself – continues, either as a one-on-one, or in groups of three to four participants. This takes place over a couple of weeks in addition to the participant’s everyday workload, or as a highly focused and intensive one or two day event. Often starting with everyday customer observations, followed up with relevant questions (i.e. interviewing). If necessary, the facilitator can support individual team members along the way.
  3. The final part of a Customer Safari is normally a workshop where the team reports back on results, insights and reflections, and agree on next steps. As facilitators, we can also help put together a final report.

Now you may think that the same results can be reached through traditional market research or through sending out a few researchers in the field. Maybe. But you would probably miss out on the deep individual insights that the direct observations and encounters help you get.

Getting a first hand exposure to customers, without middle hands, is in our experience the best way to gain both clarity and insight. And, with some guidance from a facilitator anyone can do it in a structured fashion together with a diverse team from several different internal functions.