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Being a Client Side Researcher

Client Side Research

As a client side researcher your main role is to act as the voice of the customer within the business you operate. In many instances, you provide the link to the ‘outside world’. Any organisation that is truly focused on customers will place research at the heart of its planning and decision making and will rely on the internal research team (you) to guide and manage the research needs. Often, client side researchers sit as part of the marketing team.

Depending on the nature of the business you work for, you will be asked to assist with a broad array of questions including:

  • what do customers think of our brand and how are we positioned compared to the rest of the market?
  • how satisfied are our customers and what is key to driving satisfaction?
  • what are the customer needs in relation to x, and what do we need to do to address these needs?
  • how easy do customers find it to buy from us and is there anything we can do to make it easier?
"I have worked on both sides of the research fence (agency side and client side) and have really enjoyed both. For me, having experience of the ‘other side’ helps hugely in understanding and communicating with the agencies I work with (including knowing how exhausting running groups are and how an extra 14 questions in a quant questionnaire is a big deal!)."
Simon Taylor, Customer Research Manager at Tesco Bank

In order to answer questions such as these, client side researchers tend to work with a group of trusted and valued research agencies. It is the role of the client side researcher to brief these agencies clearly about the objectives of the project (having worked hard to refine these objectives with an internal partner/colleague). Often you are also required to select an agency from a shortlist based on their proposed approach to tackling the research.

As a client side researcher you can always rely on a variety of work and being exposed to lots of different types of challenges and solutions. You work with a range of research methodologies across the qual and quant spectrum and are often working on ad hoc pieces of work alongside regular tracking studies.

Once a project is underway it is then a case of managing internal partners/colleagues, reviewing, feeding back on and signing off key research tools (questionnaires etc) and ensuring the all important debrief hits the mark with colleagues and answers the research objectives.

To be an effective client side researcher requires a number of different skills.

  1. Awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of different research approaches (and an empathy for the challenges and requirements of the research process).
  2. The ability to develop and maintain relationships with lots of different people within the business as well as the agencies you use on a regular basis.
  3. Communication skills for sharing customer insight around the business.
  4. Understanding of what your business is trying to achieve so you can ensure the work you do feeds into this.
  5. Project management skills to set and maintain timelines, budgets etc.
  6. The ability to link different pieces of information together to build a full picture of a situation.
  7. Comfort in juggling multiple tasks and requirements at once and working at speed

I have worked on both sides of the research fence (agency side and client side) and have really enjoyed both. For me, having experience of the ‘other side’ helps hugely in understanding and communicating with the agencies I work with (including knowing how exhausting running groups are and how an extra 14 questions in a quant questionnaire is a big deal!).

Having client side research experience on your CV is valuable if you are looking to progress into other areas of a business or develop your career in a particular direction. It shows you can manage people internally and manage agencies, it shows you can clearly define objectives and put in place work to address these objectives and it also shows an ability to keep the customer at the heart of what the business does.

Working as a client side researcher is something I really enjoy and value. There are not many roles where the work you do and the people you work alongside varies so much in the space of hours or days. I also get a lot of satisfaction from helping colleagues understand our customers better and seeing the insight I have helped generate used to make the business better.

If you want to work in a role where you get exposed to lots of different areas of an organisation, are seen as a ‘go to’ person to help colleagues do their job better and like juggling lots of different pieces of work at once – then you should seriously consider being a client side researcher.

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Event highlights

February 2018
Training07

Questionnaire Design07.02.18 | MRS, London EC1V 0JR

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Training08

Data Privacy in Research08.02.18 | MRS, London EC1V 0JR

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Training20

Statistical Methods Masterclass20.02.18 | MRS, London EC1V 0JR

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