The fall is a busy time for roadshows when it comes to financial technology, otherwise referred to as Fintech. Many Fintech applications (apps) pitch their offering to potential investors to get much-needed funding to expand their product and team.
After this period, the due diligence begins. A lengthy process in which investors have decided which apps they are interested in. Typically a market research firm is retained to go out and get information from customers in the industry to complete a market evaluation. I like to refer to market research firms as the monkies in the middle.
As the title suggests, this article is intended for market research firms.
The customer is typically an accounting professional who is highly vested in their client relationships and wise to the options in Fintech made available to them. Historically in our industry, such market research calls have been annoying to a customer. Simply due to the lack of time customers have to give, the urgency of the request, and the lack of value assigned to the time.
This hinders the market evaluation process for both the investor and the app
Let's take a step back and define the process from beginning to end.
Customers use the app but need more functionality
The app prioritizes product enhancements to functionality
Fintech app pitches their offering to investors to build out functionality
Investors make a decision to proceed with due diligence or decline funds
Investors hire a market research firm to complete due diligence
Market research firm sources customers in the industry
Market research firm interviews customers
Market research firm prepares an evaluation
Investors review the market evaluation from the market research firm.
The investor provides an agreement and funds to the app if they wish to move forward.
The app develops functionality per the agreement with their investor
The customer sees the functionality improvements and is satisfied
Although this process provides a strong amount of anonymity, there is friction when the market research firm taps into the expertise of the customers in the industry.
As a customer, we may realize the process above and understand that we want to help our app partners. Or worse, perhaps customers don't realize the process above and decline any opportunity to provide feedback. Which may impact the very apps they use!
Typically customers decline to provide feedback because of the very nature market research firms operate. Let's fix that!
Here is a list of do's and don'ts when contacting customers to complete your market research:
Do be courteous of the customer's time. This may be obvious, but there is an inherent lack of respect for such. Remember that customers are under no obligation to help you with your research. Out of good faith, we may wish to help you but will shut down communication when we hear ASAP or "Can't you provide 10 minutes of your time today"?
Host a pre-interview to ensure the customer is a good fit for your research. Be prepared with questions and keep it brief.
Do pay for the customer's time. If the customer doesn't have a flat rate then come up with a baseline. Note that payment should be a clearly defined process. Customer invoices for services rendered and your firm pays by credit card, ACH or cheque.
Don't send Amazon or similar gift cards as payment. Anybody providing a professional service for consultation should be invoicing as a professional. Let's keep it professional if you want our professional opinions and expertise for your evaluation. If the individual does not want reimbursement then offer to donate the funds to a select charity of the month.
Ask to request to record a session and be sure to have a proper conferencing system. We don't want to hear "Can you repeat that last fact I didn't catch it". Record it! Focus on the conversation, not taking notes. If notes are required, have a second individual on the call, which is disclosed to the customer, to take notes to prompt questions after the interview. Any follow up emails and calls should be assigned a value if it wasn't covered during the interview.
Take responsibility for administration work like a profile set up. As a customer, we don't have time to set up a profile under your unique CRM or worse take your prescribed training. If you contacted a customer it is because you see their value. If there is any concern that you don't see their value then don't perform the interview.
Above all be kind and respectful for the time and value of the customers you are researching.
If you are interested in retaining our services for market research in the Fintech industry we would be pleased to consider your request. Simply reach out to me via LinkedIn to get started.
Yours in apps,