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Abbott Research

Customer insight powers growth and competitive advantage

The best insights come from understanding the world of your customer.

It’s all about context. We can’t expect customers to solve our problems, or create the next great product innovation. But if you immerse yourself in their world, they will help you see those solutions and innovations.

For decades, asking people the direct question was thought to be acceptable.

Now we know better. We know that any human being can come up with a rational reason for anything at all, and may even believe it.

Everyone is marketing savvy now, especially young people. To get powerful insights today, we have to get past this barrier. We do that with better research design, and constant innovation in our own methods and approaches.

You, the client, need the insights in your head, not in ours.

The magic of insight comes from creating settings where you can learn without asking very many direct questions. Tools like mobile self-ethnography can make this happen.

We like to bring clients directly into the room through co-creation labs. We run immediate debriefs. Our reports and presentations are easy to digest. You won’t put them on a shelf, you’ll put them into action.

The secret client list

You aren’t going to find a big client list here, even though we are proud of the brands and organizations we have worked with. We signed an NDA and we honor that. You’d recognize most of the names. We’d love to have your organization on this list. And we will keep your secrets, too.

We’re passionate about our clients and about helping them succeed in a challenging marketplace.

We try to add value from the first contact to well after the last invoice. To see what that feels like, let’s start a conversation.

Susan Abbott, president

Susan Abbott

Brief Bio

Susan Abbott is a specialist in customer insight and creative problem solving.

Prior to forming Abbott Research & Consulting in 2001, Susan led the marketing-research practice at a boutique consulting firm. She is also a former vice-president of the TD Bank Financial Group, one of North America’s leading financial services firms, where she held diverse general management positions.

Considered a leader by her peers, Susan was twice elected to two-year terms as a board member of the Qualitative Research Consultants Association.

Think Global Qualitative

Susan is the co-founder of Think Global Qualitative, a global alliance of senior qualitative specialists. Through this alliance, we can provide clients with expert coverage of any major global market.

Visit Site >>

The blah, blah, blah

Her educational background includes an MBA from Ivey at the University of Western Ontario, the Certified Marketing Research Professional designation, Myers-Briggs accreditation, and Advanced Creative Problem Solving training, and a bunch of other stuff.

Susan’s a learning junkie who spends her free time at conferences, frequently speaking, always staying current.


“Thank you for doing such a brilliant job on this project. We were impressed with your work, your presence and your presentation skills. A great concise presentation which flowed perfectly and logically. Honest and very approachable in the way you delivered the facts.”
Fraser MacDonald, Marketing Consultant

“Throughout our project Susan always provided timely, creative and pragmatic advice. Her approach was creative but also demonstrated
a clear understanding of our organization. I would not hesitate in recommending Susan for any future projects.”
Will Christensen, Senior Manager, Deloitte & Touche – National Team Lead,
Campus Talent Acquisition

Selected Publications

What is Customer Insight? An interview with David Bain at Digital Marketing Radio, Feb. 3, 2015

New Metrics To Compare Qualitative Method Options, Alert!, Marketing Research Association, Fourth Quarter, 2014

Qual-Online: The Essential Guide. What Every Researcher Needs to Know About Conducting and Moderating Interviews Via the Web. By Jennifer Dale and Susan Abbott, October 2014

Make It Fun and Stop Calling it Gamification, Vue, October 2013, (PDF download)

Revisiting Maslow: What Models Can We Use to Understand and Explain Consumption Behavior? Views, 2011

Don’t Blame The Focus Group For Leaders’ Shortcomings, GreenBook, 2011

Author of The Innovative Organization in partnership with Schulich Executive Education Centre at York University in 2007. (Out of print)


Co-create an experience that customers value, by Susan Hash, Contact Center Pipeline, July 2013 (PDF download)

Connect with Susan

Susan on Twitter: @susanabbott
Find Susan on LinkedIn
Phone:  1-416-481-7409
Email Susan

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When you review a discussion guide, do you know what to look for? Learn what the pros consider in this brief insider guide, How to Review a Focus Group Discussion Guide. It's yours, free, to help you in any project.


Customer Experience: Mapping the Customer Journey

Forming a deep understanding of the end-to-end customer experience is a powerful tool for developing a stronger competitive position. We live in an experience economy. Competitive advantage is difficult to come by. The low-hanging-fruit of innovation has been exploited already.

Journey Mapping can help you dive deep and find new territory for innovation. Journey Mapping will put your team in the experience, giving them empathy for the customer, and compelling reasons to mobilize change.

Defining the scope

Our experience with Journey Mapping strongly supports defining the scope of a journey in customer terms, not company terms. The start of the journey begins before the customer touches your web site, your product, your staff or your stores. Extending our enquiry to the natural milestones customers experience often uncovers new territory for innovation, either before or after the traditional boundaries of the experience.

Customer journey studies are well served by hybrid research methods. We can bring in insights from many sources, including a Knowledge Harvest of previous research and public data. Employee Insights can help guide the development of the project, and also enlighten about internal processes and policies that impact the customer experience. Subject Matter Experts that are external to the company can often bring a different perspective as well. We can look at Competitive Intelligence Shops, Social Media Mining, and other tools to fill in specific parts of the picture.

Deep Discovery at the core

Regardless of the other tools selected, individual Deep Discovery Interviews are at the core of Journey Mapping. We want a one-on-one interaction with the customer for a couple of hours on the topic, so we can deeply probe into their experience.

High-definition video is an important part of the record keeping. As we work through these interviews, we will start to develop a rough journey map and test our ideas with customers. By the time fieldwork is done, we will know what the key Moments of Truth are.

Creating the Journey Map

Condensing dozens of ethnographic interviews into a one or two-page Journey Map is a major challenge of analysis. The map is the core deliverable of the project, but we provide full analysis of each Moment of Truth.

Journey Maps will show the stages of the journey in customer terms. At each stage, you will see what customers are doing, what they are thinking, how they are feeling, and what the overall experience is. Pain points and frustrations will be identified.

At this phase of analysis, we also assemble themed Video Vignettes from the many hours of video. For each Moment of Truth, we let the customers tell the story. This is a huge job for the research team, but crucial for your project. Only a few people will experience the customer interactions first hand, but everyone on the team can gain empathy from the video.

We can also work with you to facilitate working sessions to map out a Future Journey, identify and prioritize opportunities. Or our consultants can create an Ideal Journey, and the internal team can refine it.

The Web-Report and Archive

We offer clients a secure, web-based reporting format for multi-media projects. It’s a single archive that contains all project elements, including documents, graphics, and videos. Everyone from executives to the design team can dive a little or a lot into the detailed insights using the web report.Once you have a multi-media report, you will wonder how you ever lived with PowerPoint alone.

We’ll host the site for you during the project, and you can move it to your own internal servers on completion, where it will keep the insights alive.