In a perfect world, all customer insights would be free from the personal biases of the researcher. However, research is always influenced by the researcher’s personal biases. The only question is the degree of influence.
If you pay very close attention, you’ll notice that most conversations contain misinterpretations, and presumptions that pass for understanding. For example, someone might say that they find a breath mint’s flavor to be “interesting”, which, if they’re someone who doesn’t like to say anything negative, is a way of saying they didn’t like it.
But unless one knows that person well, or is extremely perceptive, or ideally, probes deeper to see what they really meant, their use of “interesting” could easily be taken to be a positive appraisal.
A customer insights and advertising veteran of over 20 years tells of how he has observed over 100 focus groups in his career, and in virtually every case, he felt that some or much of the true meaning of the participants’ communications were not fully and/or accurately understood.
Every analytics firm will sell you on their superior listening abilities, their superb analytical know-how, their people skills. But the only truly effective customer insights professionals are those who are able to discern, moment by moment, whether the data they’re receiving is open to interpretation, and therefore requires more analysis.
Which really comes down to getting your ego out of the way.