Tricia Houston on being a connector as a market researcher

We were joined on our podcast by Tricia Houston of The ExperienceBuilt Group (EBG), which helps organizations create experiences worth repeating, including imagining new solutions, improving current ones and implementing programs to close experience gaps. She spoke with us about the power of being a connector and, as a researcher, finding the “right key at the right time to open the right lock.”


She explained how being a connector is the basis of the work at The ExperienceBuilt Group: while they do research they are creating connections inside organizations, or between a user and a service provider, or between a consumer and a product. They help their clients be more prepared, rather than more persuasive. She says “preparation is really about shoring up all the things that create the promises- that actually make the promises happen that might come from the marketing and advertising.” 

Tricia shared more about how EBG started and some of its core beliefs, and how the business has evolved over time. In order to create space for creativity, they seek experience gaps and help provide connections. “We're looking for needles in a haystack in some ways.” She provides some examples of how this work looks in real life, going beyond the basics and putting in a different type of thinking. 

She uses the fairy tale of "Beauty and the Beast" as a metaphor for unexpected transformations in life. Belle desires a different life and Gaston has conventional expectations - when magic (The Beast) is introduced, everything changes. She refers to this as "dabbling in fairy tale magic," emphasizing the importance of appealing to emotions. 

Tricia shares more about the challenges in addressing experience gaps and strategic issues, highlighting the common focus on efficiency in business operations. Using examples like Southwest Airlines and Zappos, she emphasizes the importance of incorporating unexpected elements and emotional appeal rather than solely relying on logic. 

In addition, she brings up the “greyscale SUV” problem - when she drives into the parking lot at school to drop off her kids all the cars look the same: white, silver or black. “So we talk about that sometimes - are we making more Silver SUVs or are we actually being true to who we are, which can help make a new majority?” Tricia is creating a course through the School of the Possible, a program developed by Dave Gray, focusing on the greyscale SUV issue. 

Our discussion also touches on the respondent experience, emphasizing compensation, impact recognition, and the importance of a conversational tone in surveys. Tricia talks about the significance of sharing findings with respondents and engaging them in ongoing design co-creation. The conversation closes with insights into the future, predicting a shift towards delivering premium experiences across diverse price points.

For the complete discussion listen in

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