Technology companies and other business to business companies, particularly in the USA, have a fairly long established tradition of developing and running Customer Advisory Councils or Customer Advisory Boards. According to the Wikipedia description these comprise “a group of existing customers, convened on a regular basis to advise company management on industry trends, business priorities, and strategic direction.”  They “typically consist of 10 to 15 customers, selected to represent a cross section of the customer base.”

This approach doesn’t seem to be as widely used here in the UK, but we are increasingly seeing interest in similar kinds of… Continue reading

For over 8 years now we have been running regular surveys asking middle class (ABC1) consumers and opinion leaders their perceptions of a number of British universities’ reputations. A number of our university clients have found it useful to monitor how their reputation scores change (or don’t change) over time and to ask audiences how and why they assess universities’ reputations and standing.

This year, for the first time we looked beyond the survey data to see whether, through statistical analysis, it would be possible to identify whether perceptions of reputation bear any relationship with other known data about the… Continue reading

young-people_wMany of our clients are keen to engage younger audiences but struggle to do so. Over the years we have learned a good deal about what works best to get the most from research and engagement activities with younger audiences.

There are many elements to this but we thought we’d share just a few of our top tips!

1. Be cautious of mixing
It’s easy to forget how we all felt when we were at school. The people in the year above us seemed so much older and more sophisticated, even intimidating. From an adult perspective the difference between a… Continue reading

We’re delighted to have been selected to run Ofgem’s (the gas and electricity regulator) Consumer First Panel through to 2017. The Panel has been running for 7 previous years and has been the flagship project within Ofgem’s Consumer First initiative. It comprises eighty everyday domestic customers recruited from four locations across Britain. The panel meets regularly to discuss key issues impacting on their participation in the energy market, as well as other topics related to energy. We have been appointed to recruit this year’s panel and run the regular panel sessions, with some further panel work taking place via an… Continue reading

Thames Water_wAfter a rigorous procurement process we’re delighted to say that Community Research has been selected by Thames Water as their sole supplier of Public Consultation services over the next 3 years, with the option to extend this for up to a further 3 years, if agreed by both parties. This covers the period of the next price review, during which the company will have much cause to engage with and consult its 15 million customers on its future challenges, plans and investment proposals.

Our work will involve:

  • Advising on appropriate consultation techniques and methods for increasing engagement.
  • Event management and… Continue reading

Since our last newsletter we were delighted to be part of a water industry roundtable on customer engagement on 21st April 2016. We jointly organised the event with The Consumer Council for Water, Water UK, Ofwat and The Consultation Institute.

The aims were:

  • To allow customer engagement and Customer Challenge Group leads the time and space to discuss challenges and share learning.
  • To provide an opportunity to stimulate and influence the debate on the future of customer engagement in the water industry.

The audience heard from speakers from inside and outside the sector and were given… Continue reading

We are ‘Community Research’, so we, of all people, should be clear what we mean by ‘community’. When a client recently asked us what we mean by communities we took a step back to reconsider this important question.

According to the dictionary a community is a group of people who:

• live in the same place or;
• has characteristics or interests in common.
In recent years a new definition has come about:
• a space for collaborating or communicating online.

With regard to this last definition, when you think about it, wherever an online community exists, it is arguably… Continue reading

We wanted to share this excellent piece by Rhion Jones of the Consultation Institute, in response to the recent Referendum. Those of you who are already members of the Institute will have seen this in the form of a fortnightly Tuesday Topic.

Should we ask the question? – What can we learn from the EU Referendum?

We have always regarded a referendum as a form of a consultation – and the recent EU referendum has illustrated many of the pitfalls familiar to public engagement practitioners. The in/out question has many critics – unsurprisingly mostly from the losing side.… Continue reading

Using Research EvidenceWe have seen some useful free consultation and research resources recently, so we wanted to share them with you:

1) Nesta and the Alliance for Useful Evidence has produced a new guide Using research evidence – a practice guide. The publication has been designed to help improve the way people work by using evidence effectively.

2) Sciencewise has:

  • Recently piloted its Sounding Board tool which is used to gain rapid public input on challenging issues involving science and technology.
  • Piloted an event to understand whether one-off, public workshops could be a … Continue reading

MRS_wWe are delighted to announce that Community Research has just become an MRS Company Partner. Whilst we have always maintained the highest research standards we felt it was time to publicly commit to those standards. We hope our work speaks for itself, but now our clients along with the stakeholders and members of the public who contribute so much to our projects, can be further assured that we are adhering to the standards and guidance of the world’s leading research association.