Every company needs data to grow, improve and provide better service – but if it isn’t quality information, then it’s not really providing any great value. While advances in technology have enabled businesses to survey or interact with their customer market like never before, it takes a specific skillset – and perhaps even a clean set of eyes – to extract the right information that will genuinely provide a competitive advantage.
Angela Orsaris is the Managing Director at The Market Intelligence Co.; a leading, Australian-owned and independent company that specialises in business-to-business and industrial market intelligence and research.
With more than 30 years’ experience in market research, Angela has seen the growth and use of market and business intelligence in Australia, experiencing first-hand how businesses work with the information they receive.
“We want to help people understand their business or market better, so they can develop and improve – but that’s much more than just data or supplying a metric or a number. It is actually trying to understand the motivations and drivers behind those numbers or metrics so that they can understand their customers and work with them to provide better products and/or services.”
This philosophy is a fundamental driver for The Market Intelligence Co., and comes from Angela’s own experiences in the industry. Having studied economics at university, she effectively fell into market research, landing a job straight out of university with a company called BIS Shrapnel. Whilst working at BIS Shrapnel, Angela had a client in the management and technology consulting sphere, called Invetech, which was looking to develop its own market research division. Invetech poached Angela, and she set about creating what was effectively a new business.
“Eventually, just over 17 years ago, I did a management buy-out of that business division, and basically dropped the words ‘Invetech’ and ‘Division’ to become known as The Market Intelligence Co..”
Since that break-away the company has grown in reputation and size; which is a significant achievement in an industry that has been severely impacted by advances in technology that have led to the proliferation of non-traditional competition. Utilising her extensive experience and intelligent insight in the industry, Angela and her team have found a point of difference that provides value to her clients.
“It’s about recognising that you’re a partner with your customer, you’re not a supplier,” she says. “I think the minute you stop viewing yourself as a supplier, it becomes more about the relationship or the project than money. Everything we do is for the customer. We’re not driven by profit. I’m pleased to say that we have been profitable – but that is because we put customers first.”
“When you’re a partner, you’re not afraid to tell it as it is. Anyone who knows me and any of my team would know that we are not scared to tell clients bad news to their face, and we don’t sugar-coat it. We’re not like other researchers or consultants who just tell them what they want to hear.”
This comes back to a fundamental question for any business engaging in market research: do you really want to get a picture of where you are placed – or do you really just want someone to tell you you’re doing a good job?
“You need to get a representative perspective of the customer base across all the different touch points,” Angela explains. “A lot of companies, they don’t do that – they think they can just talk to one person in a company and that’s it. They tick the box and they move on. There are companies that won’t talk to their unhappy customers – so they’re never addressing the real issues or where they can improve. By dealing with a third party, or a professional like us, you are getting that independent or objective perspective, and it’s not just about a single metric which in many cases can be gamed.”
While Angela is not afraid to tell the bad news, she is quick to point out that it is delivered in a positive and constructive manner, and with a level of service that supports the client.
“For any company, I think it’s about being proactive and responsive to the needs of your customers rather than reacting and waiting for them to come to you. Again, this is linked to seeing yourself as a partner, not just a supplier or service provider.”
This approach ensures there is a clear communication between both parties, and that the customer understands that they are receiving a thorough and contextual review of their business – not just a list of things that need to be fixed.
“I sometimes have customers who say to me, ‘…but you didn’t tell me anything I didn’t really know apart from X and Y’, and then I explain that it’s actually a good thing because it means that they are in tune with their market and customers.”
Equally, “X” and “Y” could be the difference between a company and its competitors and so should be valued accordingly.
To achieve this, The Market Intelligence Co. uses a wide range of tools to meet the needs of the client. While surveys are a big part of gathering data, tools such as qualitative research, ethnographic research, desk research, mystery shopping and other techniques provide different levels of information, including the growing trend of merging data and information sources.
With this information in hand – be it small or significant – The Market Intelligence Co. then works with clients to get the most from it. This work includes action plans, development of KPIs, help with training and staff communications, including going on roadshows to disseminate the findings across all levels of client’s staff.
It’s a level of personalised service that has helped Angela retain a long list of clients. Further, it has provided a workplace where staff see the benefits of what they are providing and also obtain satisfaction in their role.
“I’m very proud to hold such loyal clients,” says Angela. “For me personally it’s about making a real difference or a positive impact to my clients’ and also to their customers’ everyday lives and needs. I think that when I see our clients grow and prosper, and when I see my team and my staff prosper, I get so much satisfaction.
“No amount of money can give me anywhere near the same satisfaction as I get from a job well done and seeing that people benefit from the role we’ve played.”
Indeed, Angela has clearly created a workplace where staff share the same satisfaction from helping others. When she started The Market Intelligence Co. some 17 years’ ago, she had 14 staff, 10 of whom still remain. When you consider that two of the other four have retired, it reads as exceptional retention.
With a current team of 25 employees and more than 200 executive interviewers and mystery shoppers around Australia, The Market Intelligence Co. is in a strong position for the future. This is based on the continued market focus on customer centricity, the growth in mystery interviewing or shopping given the increasing role of governance and compliance, and in the provision of market intelligence through merging of data sources such as big data and primary market research data.
The Market Intelligence Co. conducts many projects each year for a diverse range of clients from industries such as logistics and transport, building and construction, government, energy, IT&C, medical equipment, wholesale, mining and minerals, and industry and membership associations, she believes the company has the experience to deal with any need that may arise.
Most importantly, Angela has established a business with an identifiable point of difference. With technological advancements, any company can set up its own customer contacts to gain information – and many are shifting that way – but it does take a level of expertise to know which sectors you should reach and how to get the best information out of them.
Only when you have all the information and not just data in front of you are you in a position to make the best decisions for improvement. BFM