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Nancy M. Nygreen, Ph.D.
Consultant: Strategic Market Research

Dr. Nancy Nygreen is the Founder of Nygreen Management and Oak Ridge Holdings, Inc.

She was previously Vice President and Practice Director with both The Gallup Organization and Opinion Research Corporation International in Princeton.

For three years she served as Director of Quality for a 250-store retail corporation, and was the Vice President of Marketing for an expert systems software company in Palo Alto.

Nancy served as a Senior Reviewer with the New York State Quality program (ESA), President of the Fairfield Chapter of the American Marketing Association, and an active member of and trainer for the American Society for Quality (ASQ).


Real-World Experience

Nancy Nygreen has 40 years experience in market research and marketing, with an emphasis on helping organizations better understand customer needs and design quality improvement/customer satisfaction programs.

Her work differs from traditional market research providers by translating data into integrated programs through a series of consulting activities, integrating customer and employee research, and by placing more emphasis on qualitative research to fill in the details that make quantitative data more actionable.

Examples:

  • For a $3+ billion retailing company, Nancy designed a comprehensive customer satisfaction program, starting with customer surveys for each of the company's 250+ properties, then expanded to coordinate training for district managers to insure effective use of the data and add incentives for improving; additional qualitative research to finalize the design of new programs and provide a segmentation approach to meeting customer needs; and the design of employee survey, employee communication and employee suggestion programs.
     
  • For a new hotel chain, she conducted qualitative interviews with decision-makers, hotel guests and employees, forming the basis for a half-day senior management retreat. The retreat introduced the management team to key concepts in a customer satisfaction initiative, using Company examples to illustrate each concept.
     
  • For the premier technology research company, she conducted "Product Applications Laboratories" to demonstrate a new product to prospective customers, gaining customer input for final product design. This was followed by Delphi research, interviews with opinion leaders on where the market was going, with the resulting report being critiqued by all those interviewed. The final report included opinion leader projections on the market's future direction.
     
  • For a professional services organization, Nancy designed an action planning process to help implement results of customer and employee surveys. The surveys identified the top 6-7 areas for improvement. Then, employees participated in focus groups where they selected the 2-3 areas most relevant to their area, discussed why that was most important, defined the issue, brain-stormed potential solutions, multi-voted on potential solutions, and then refined the leading recommendations.

Actionable Research

Market research often fails in its "hand off" to the client company. For example, quantitative data is not sufficiently detailed to be actionable; individual "property" feedback in a multi-unit organization has no impact because recipients of reports don’t know how to use the information; or there is no linkage between employee and customer issues or between positioning and customer satisfaction strategies.

Having held both consulting and corporate positions, Dr. Nygreen appreciates the challenges in making research actionable, strategic and effective.


Why Use Qualitative Research?

Qualitative research is most often exploratory, in preparation for a subsequent quantitative project. Dr. Nygreen, however, is a proponent of using qualitative research iteratively with quantitative studies to help translate data into action. Using qualitative research frequently and creatively allows an organization to "peel back the layers of the onion" and identify core beliefs.

Successful business strategies require organizations to understand the subtleties of customer needs and perceptions. Qualitative research is needed when companies make decisions regarding product or service design; positioning, marketing or communication plans; distribution or promotion strategies. For example, the success of the Ford Taurus was largely credited to the company's greater reliance on "product laboratories," which identified over 350 specific things customers wanted, from overall ergonomics to adding netting in the trunk for groceries. This is just one example of the benefits from careful use of in-depth customer information.

In her career, Dr. Nygreen has conducted qualitative projects for General Electric; AT&T; Bell Laboratories; The Wharton School; Big Bear supermarkets; Morgan, Lewis and Boccius (law firm); Lukens Steel; PNC Bank; CSX Transportation; PBS; Jones Intercable; EDS and many others.

Following are actual examples from some of those assignments.

  • "Every Four Years" — A series of focus groups with voters for a PBS TV series on the U.S. presidency.

  • "Product Application Laboratories," where a software prototype was demonstrated to prospective customers for input into final product design.

  • "Assisted shopping" with customers in supermarkets to design a new merchandising program. This research literally involved walking with customers through their shopping experience, studying the impact of floor layout on shopping habits, observing point-of-sale materials and other factors on the purchase decision.

  • "Customer Satisfaction" — Extensive focus groups with both customers and employees to identify key drivers of customer satisfaction, and gaps between company and customer expectations.

  • "Advertising effectiveness" — Show a series of TV ads from technology companies to the CEOs of Fortune 100 companies, followed by in-depth interviews to measure the executives' reactions to the messages conveyed.

  • "Organizational effectiveness" — Focus groups with employees to identify the most important issues facing them, in-depth definition of each issue, and recommendations for addressing each.

  • "Baldrige quality audit" — One-on-one interviews with senior executives and front-line employees, as well as customer focus groups.

  • "Customer focus" — Professionally videotaped focus groups with six different customer segments of a retail bank, using the video as part of a management retreat to kick off the customer focus program.

  • "Industry direction" — To help determine the future direction of communications technology, a series of one-on-one interviews with opinion leaders. The report was critiqued by those interviewed, and comments incorporated into the final report.

  • "Customer feedback" — Interviews with key accounts, forming the basis for stewardship meetings between each respondent's company and the account rep.



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