QuickTake: The Power of Qualitative Analytics - Modern Distribution Management

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QuickTake: The Power of Qualitative Analytics

James Dorn shares insights on leveraging voice of customer, associate and supplier research to inform strategy, make better decisions and build winning playbooks.
MDM QuickTake Qualitative Data

Quantitative data analytics, particularly financial metrics and KPIs, are the heart and soul of most analytics teams in distribution. But is qualitative data the secret to filling in the gaps for a more well-rounded business strategy?

After analyzing the responses of thousands of end customers and distribution associates, Dorn Group, a strategic advisory for manufacturers and distributors, found a gap in what associates believed to be valued most by their customers, and what customers actually valued most.

In the latest QuickTake podcast with MDM CEO Tom Gale, Dorn Group President and CEO James Dorn shared the top two gaps between customers and associates. 


Many distribution associates ranked working with an account manager as one of the highest things their customers valued. But customers asked the same question ranked working with an account manager as one of the lowest things they valued. 

“Right there you have a really big gap in perception,” Dorn said. “If you’re a distribution leader making big decisions off of some of the input that you’re getting from your associates, you want to make sure that you’ve actually got a good representation of the information coming back directly from your customers.”

How to Ensure Distributors Collect Unbiased Customer Input

To ensure distributors are receiving input that is a good representation of their customer’s values, Dorn suggests looking at three sources of information from the customers, associates and suppliers. 

Each of these audiences should answer the same survey questions, which distributors can overlay and find emerging patterns on how customers want to do business, and what they need from a distribution firm.

“You’ll start to notice gaps where there’s just a misconception between either one of those stakeholder groups, but you also start to see some insights emerge,” Dorn said. 

For example, some of the insights could point to customers valuing eCommerce a lot more than associates think they value it. This could lead a distributor to invest more into digital tools. 

“The level of questions you want to get to is beyond just [customer] satisfaction,” Dorn said. “You want to try to identify areas in which you can deliver new value back to your customers. And the questions that you’re asking would be far more specific than say NPS [Net Promoter Score] would be, or standard customer satisfaction would be.”

The power of using information directly from each of the three sources is that it’s not anecdotal or watered down, Dorn said.

“What it helps you do is actually build winning programs and winning playbooks based on the information that is accurate and super informative to how you deliver more value to your customer,” Dorn said. “I can’t tell you how many times that we’ve presented this research back to our clients and there is always, always people surprised at what the data is actually showing.” 

Listen to the full podcast episode via the audio player above, and check out our full library of MDM Podcasts here.

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