HR&S Customer Survey

How do we know how we can serv you the most?

The fact is that it does not matter who we ask, everyone will lie – at least a little and often without even knowing about it themselves. The question is therefore not who we ask, but what question we ask and how we ask the questions. When we want to know if our idea meets the customer’s needs, our idea is the last thing we should talk about to find out the answer. We should thus avoid direct and leading questions as the vast majority of people are not that strong at predicting their own future. They can e.g. hate an idea but then become the biggest user of it, or say they will definitely use a product, then maybe never care. What our potential customers, on the other hand, know is what problems, frustrations and goals they had yesterday and have today. Our customer survey is therefore structured as the below:

  1. Talking about our customers’ challenges (instead of our own idea).
    Ambitions and Outcome Challenges.
  2. Base on facts.
    Seek evidence.
  3. Asking about specific things in the past (instead of general opinions or opinions about the future).
    The context.
  4. Talking less and listen more.
    User driven.

Only when we have really gotten to know our customers can we formulate an offer and start selling. So there is no point in spending much time developing our ideas and business models before we have determined that there is a real, preferably large, need for it. At the same time, the need may differ in different markets. A few hours with our prospective customers and a few questions can save us lots of both time and money in the future.

HR&S has developed templates as support, which is good as preparation, when we are going to meet your customers and learn lessons after the meeting.

Lean Start-up model

We use an iterative  approach to the development of new business models and ideas, and we start from the Lean Startup methodology. It is a data- and experiment-driven method of moving from assumptions to verified facts in as short a time as possible. Lean Startup is based on “fail fast – fail often” and by gradually increasing learning about customers and the market, the financial risk is limited.
  1. Problem.
    What are the problems that our product or service should solve for the customer?
  2. Solution.
    What is our solution to this problem?
  3. The customer’s options.
    How do customers solve their problem today?
  4. Key figures.
    What measurement values do we want to use to check that we are on the right path?
  5. Unique value proposition.
    What exactly makes our solution worth buying?
  6. Our competitive advantage.
    Which one is it?
  7. Customer segment.
    What does the ideal customer look like?
  8. Channels.
    In what ways can we reach our ideal customer?
  9. “Early adopters”.
    What does the ideal customer who buys first look like?

HR&S Customer survey manual

  1. Ideal customer hypothesis
    Start with a hypothesis about who our ideal customer is, and describe the hypothesis as clearly as possible.
  2. Information required
    Reflect over what perceptions and what facts we need to get out of the conversations with the ideal customer to learn more about how the customer views the problem / need us to solve the problem with our offer.
  3. Preparation
    Before the interview, write down the questions and reflect on how to ask them.  We shall not talk about our product and service in the very first conversations. In the first conversations, the questions are only about the needs. As we learn more / meet more potential customers, we can adjust the questions to deepen our knowledge and connect it more to their buying process. If there is a lot of interest and we really want to tell the potential customer about our idea, we must be sure to ask for a commitment from the customer. Without a commitment, there is a great risk that we base our development work on opinions and compliments rather than facts. Examples of commitments are time, money, contacts.
  4. Interview
    Start with a compilation about the potential customer, compiling information from their web-site and maybe elsewhere in order to show that we are as updated as possible. Then state, for example, “In order to serve you better, may I please ask:
    Which are your priority ambitions and which are your main challenges rights now?”
    Then ask about specific things in the past and
    “Which are your lessons learned so far?”
    (Maybe use other areas of the HR&S Strategy for Change.) Warning signals for that the meeting is not going so well may be that:
    We talk most of the time, we only get compliments, and the answers we received do not change our idea.
  5. Analyse the answers and draw lessons.
    We reflect over the conversations to understand if our ideal customer hypothesis holds and if our potential customers really have the problem that we want to solve. If we get similar answers from several customer surveys, it often means that we found a customer segment that is potential customers. We share also be aware of that we may very well get information that we DO NOT want actually.
  6. External review
    To complement the image we get of our customers, we may need to talk to others, journalists, financiers, industry experts, and more. Their knowledge often complements what we find in our customer surveys.


The work is best done by a team of several people, and then it is obviously important to share knowledge with the entire team.

Survey manual
Academic institutions & Laboratories

Human Rights & Science (HR&S) offers research management Support programme to support scientific Institutions with generating and implementing scientific findings. We seek collaboration with Scientific institution stakeholders in Sub-Saharan African countries and internationally. 

Our main goals in research are listed as follows:

  1. Ensure research management at scientific institutions enabling researchers to generate and disseminate scientific findings.
  2. Ensure access to advanced scientific equipment.
  3. Ensure access to scientific literature.
  4. Coach on the implementation of scientific findings.

Our method is through, carrying out a series of workshops as well as coaching on the above as we aim to enable the same.

HR&S is seeking information about the potential partner institutions so as to best know where to start.
HR&S will start with a set of start-up questions listed below.

Start-up questions

  1. What is the long-term goal of the university / department?
  2. Did you identify a targeted University level of ranking (world-wide, continent, national)?
  3. Did you identify a competitive niche of research?
  4. What other ambitions do your have?
  5. What are the challenges?
  6. How do you manage the challenges right now?

Follow-up discussion

After one week, when we have made analysis.

  1. Can we offer a short zoom meeting (about ROPE) where we discuss around solutions targeting your challenges?
  2. Can we do a small survey at the university (asking researchers and staff members simple questions)?

When having reached some level of committment

  1. Which publications, policies, implemented innovations have you had already in your competitive niche of research.
  2. Which section of your department shall we target? (first….)
    (It may be management itself maybe or the library, or the laboratory, or……)

HR&S  supports in the transition from aid dependency to autonomy. HR&S offers to coach in this transition.

Challenges / addressing the challenges

“Our university would seriously benefit from the progress marker concept in the ROPE strategy.”

“Thank you.  I think the crop of students (and or/staff) I have is not overly ambitious and they think that the Supervisor will provide all.  So the training you are giving to the group is very important and must surely reawaken them to the extent that each of them must at least be able to write and submit at least ONE research grant within 6 months.  That culture has not been present with the PI having to do all by themselves.

“Our country is under lockdown and we are not permitted to enter the University campus and all work is being done from home, unfortunately, the research side of things is at a standstill.”

“Internet access is a challenge for all of us. Unfortunately, the University only provided us with data for the internet in April and we have had to use our (own) resources to get by to continue working since then. The University keeps saying they are working on something to ensure effective online teaching and learning and we hope they will fulfill their promises.”
” The communication is strongly delayed because of the Internet. The Internet connection at the University is the problem. So we are using our own Internet. My laboratory doesn’t have any Internet equipment to be used to get access to the Internet with a high rate of data transfer.”

Targeting Laboratory management

by Moses and Jackie RISE Uganda: Investigating laboratory management practices across research institutions and industries in Uganda.

In its inception, Laboratory management is aimed at supporting scientific institutions to have access to functioning advanced scientific equipment. In the context of Uganda, a sustainable economy may be difficult to ensure if the laboratory is established for the preservation of academic institutions alone. There is therefore an opportunity to bring on board the industry, SMEs, other laboratories among other entities into the picture of laboratory management in order to achieve a sustainable economy. This survey will therefore give insights to HR&S about the gaps that exist.

Laboratory Management Questionnaire RISE Uganda
Value Proposition: Laboratory Management
Target respondents:  Researchers – Academic researchers eg Lecturers, Research group heads, Students (MSc, Ph.D., PostDoc)
Organizations (that may require Laboratory services): Industry, Research & Development (R&D), Quality Assurance/Quality control, Management, Others
SMEs & other businesses: Routine analysis, Periodic analysis, Others
Laboratories: Outsourcing, Proficiency Testing, Others.

The questionnaire shall be filled out using Google forms 
What sector best describes your work?     Academia,     industry,     Laboratory,     SME,     Student,     Others, Specify
What ambition/long-term target will your work help achieve? 
Does your work require the use of laboratory equipment?     Yes,     No,     Not necessarily,     Not sure
Does your work require the use of more than one laboratory equipment?     Yes,     No,    Not Necessarily,     Not sure
Which Laboratory pieces of equipment access is considered crucial to the success of your work? (In order of priority)
Is there any laboratory equipment you need but have no access to?     Yes,     No,     Not sure, If yes, which equipment is it?
If Yes, how do you normally accomplish your set work targets without the mentioned equipment?     Outsourcing,     Leave out the specific portion of the work,     Refer to someone with access,     Something else?
How often would you require to use the laboratory equipment above?     Daily,     Weekly,     Monthly,     Quarterly,     Biannually,     Annually
Do you or your institution own any laboratory pieces of equipment?     Yes,     No,     Not sure
What percentage of cost do you think goes to use/access laboratory equipment?     Below 25%,     Between 25 and 50%,     Between 50 and 75%,     Above 75%,     Not sure
How often do you service the laboratory pieces of equipment?     Regularly,     After damage,     Never
Do you or your institution have a certified maintenance technician to service the laboratory equipment?     Yes,     No,     Not sure
Do you think a laboratory technician would benefit you/your institution?     Yes,     No,     Not sure
Do you think it is important to have access to the internet in your laboratory?     Yes,     No
Do you have access to reliable and high-speed internet?     Yes,     No,     Not sure
Do you have challenges in generating, disseminating, or implementing research/laboratory findings?     Yes,     No,     Sometimes
Do you think a research/laboratory management seminar/coaching would benefit you/your institution?     Yes,     No,     I don’t know
Are you looking for collaborators in your field of research?     Yes,     No,     Not sure, If yes, why? 

Lean Customer Survey manual
Agreed suppliers

Introduction message

After a door-opener has introduced us to the right person to talk to.

“Dear xxx, We trust this message finds you well.
We are reaching out to you because we believe that we can serve you well. We are impressed by your achievements and the work you do in Africa.
We humbly ask if you would mind discussing your challenges with us. After having understood your challenges, and how you address them today, we want to propose our best solution to you benefitting from the HR&S tools, strategies, local presence, international network, and 20 years of experience from laboratory management in Sub-Sahara African countries.

Please allow me to introduce myself.
I am Assoc. Prof. Cecilia Öman, Founder and CEO of the social enterprise Human Rights & Science (HR&S), The HR&S mandate is equal partnership research, innovation, and social enterprising for improved livelihood in Sub-Sahara African countries. We have 20 years of experience from on-site research and laboratory management in Sub-Sahara African countries, we have local representation in six countries, and a wide international network of expert advisers. HR&S has developed and implemented practical strategies for the selection, procurement, transportation, installation, use, accreditation, service, maintenance, and decommissioning of advanced scientific equipment.

I hope this message make sense to you.

I wish you well,
Yours Sincerely,
Cecilia ÖMAN

 Lean parameters

  1. Problem.
    What are the problems that our product or service should solve for the customer?
  2. Solution.
    What is our solution to this problem?
  3. The customer’s options.
    How do customers solve their problem today?
  4. Key figures.
    What measurement values do we want to use to check that we are on the right path?
  5. Unique value proposition.
    What exactly makes our solution worth buying?
  6. Our competitive advantage.
    Which one is it?
  7. Customer segment.
    What does the ideal customer look like?
  8. Channels.
    In what ways can we reach our ideal customer?
  9. “Early adopters”.
    What does the ideal customer who buys first look like?

Challenges / addressing the challenges

“It is difficult to get tracable and measurable project impact.”

Survey manual
Development institutions & private sector

Start-up questions

  1. What is the long-term goal ?
  2. Did you identify a competitive niche?
  3. What other ambitions do your have?
  4. What are the challenges?
  5. How do you manage the challenges right now?

Follow-up discussion

After one week, when we have made analysis.

  1. Can we offer a short zoom meeting (about ROPE) where we discuss around solutions targeting your challenges?
  2. Can we do a small survey among your srat the university (asking researchers and staff members simple questions)?

Challenges / addressing the challenges

“It is difficult to get tracable and measurable project impact.”

Survey manual
Social entrepreneurs in Sub-Sahara Africa

Start-up questions

  1. What are your ambitions?
  2. What are your motivations / core-values?
  3. Which challenges do you have?
  4. How do you address these challenges today?
  5. How do you define and (wish to) measure impact?
  6. How can your business become sustainable?
  7. How do you view Aid programmes;
    Is it important? Is it trust worthy and reliable? Is it smooth or complicated? Is it fair?
  8. About accountability:
    How do you handle accountability today? How shall we set up a joint accountability management package?
  9. How important is it to receive money before acting?
  10. What is more important the money or the achievements?                           
  11. Are you interested in a start or scale-up loan?
  12. How do you view equal partnership; shared input/responsibility/benefits.
  13. Do you have an innovative idea?

General information

  1. Company name and registration information.
  2. Information on governance, management, and operations; structure, names, affiliation.
  3. Geographical location.
  4. Contact / Address.

Other information

  1. What are your usual activities?
  2. How many years already?
  3. How many employees or apprentices in charge do you have?
  4. How are the activities carried out (part-time, full-time)?
  5. Are you dependent or independent?
  6. Are you operating as head-quarters or an annex?
  7. Did you have an accounting book?
  8. Are you in partnership with a financial institution/bank?
  9. What contribution do you get from the financial institution/bank (savings/credit)?
  10. Are you a member of a union/group?
  11. What is the union/group’s contribution to society?
  12. How do you promote your products?
  13. What are your short-term goals?
  14. What are your long-term goals?
  15. What are your challenges?
  16. What are the partnership possibilities of HR&S RISE center TOGO?
  17. Do you have a business model?
  18. Do you have a business plan?

Follow-up questions

Present a summary of the start-up questions ONE.
Present a more in depth research review about the institution.

  1. Where do you want to be / what do want to see, after one year, two, three, five?
  2. Do you like to receive/attend seminars and/or workshops?
  3. Do you appreciate to receive coaching? SE/Inst
  4. Would they like to support an ongoing HR&S programme? Inst / A10
  5. Would they like to support an ongoing HR&S training? Inst
  6. How would you like the HR&S survey results to be presented?
  7. What are your own personal ambitions?
  8. What are your personal challenges?
  9. How do you handle the challenges today?
  10. What are your personal long-term goals?

Be aware of that the potential partner may be expecting free aid support. Share about a future of no aid and that HR&S want to support in the transition from aid dependency to autonomy and offers to coach through this transition.

Challenges / addressing the challenges

“I am business and I cannot run away from it, it is the source of my lively hood for over 35 years. I just got funding from HR&S but there has been too much pushing. We all know how the economy has been the whole of last year. I know.”

“I really appreciate our collaboration to make my business grow which can make a living for many people. Things have been just stressing for the past few months.”

“Am sorry to communicate to you some of the failures we have admitted as an Institution in the line of implementing the project. The Institution was affected by the pandemic like the rest of the institutions and maybe more because we had no balance on accounts to support the institution and facilitate our welfare. So it comes a time when the only option left was the little collection from the project to depend on and as I speak now only a little money that remained on the account is what we are going to restart the project with. I am very very sorry to give you such bad news. To me, my all income-generating activities were put on hold and I couldn’t find the option to move on with life. If things get better we will move on after learning from the previous situation. Am sorry if I have failed the project.”

“With accountability, we have all records for money withdrawn to support the programme. But some activities have not worked like expected maybe because of the global pandemic though same tried. Some of the activities that I thought may not work is showing progress. I don’t know whether it’s because we are still in lockdown, maybe after the lockdown students will get busy. The little money brought back has been re-investigated in running the parallel programme. HR&S coaches will send you accountability document after working on it, but trust me, how we predicted the programme to run smoothly is no how it came out, there are so many things we had to learn from the previous experiences. After sitting with HR&S coaches to re-set and re-structure the project, what we thought is not what manifested.”

“I think during my next visit to the villages, I will insist on sustainability. Because it difficult in these villages. Let’s see the results of the survey. Even village-leader will not be ready to stop, even if there is a problem because it helps people to do something and get money for all the family. We just want to help them.”

“He said last time that a cooperative bank came to propose a loan to some people in the village, but the offer of HR&S, was the best.”

“Mama Iyabo is 43 years old. She is 5 children with a jobless husband. She deals in food provision, like rice, beans, etc. She started the business about four years ago after her husband lost his job as a taxi driver.  The business is currently domiciled in her living house and her initiative startup capital is N20,000. Questions: 1. How much do you make in a week, month, or year?  She was unable to answer. She is no recording of any sort, education level is zero as she did not attend elementary school. But she can communicate perfectly well with Nigeria pidgin. 2. What is your Future goal for the business? The business is not a good one and she wishes to stop at any time. 3. If you stop this business what will you be doing?  She is interested in buying bags of rice from northern Nigeria and selling in the south where is it more expensive.”

“Mama Ehis, not so sure of her age, is a mother of 7. She deals in proceed cassava foodstuff. She buys from a nearby village and sells in the streets of Benin. She has been in the business for 12 years. Question: 1. What is the challenge facing the business? The business is a good business and she wishes to continue doing it. 2. What is one thing you think will help you to make more profit from this business? She wants to be a distributor, her future plan is to have a shop inside the market as a whole seller where other women can come buy from her.”

“Chika is a computer repair, popularly known as Engr, he is a 37-year-old single man. He fixes computer system (hardware and software ) he has been doing this business for 9years. He since to know much about business, management, etc. Questions: 1. How is the business of repairing computer systems? In terms of profit it is a lucrative business he said, but getting a loan to rent a shop has been the biggest problem. He calmed to have lost his shop about years ago and since then he has not been able to rent another shop and that is why he operates inside his one-room apartment.”

“Adesuwa is 28, a single mother of two. Her husband abandoned them for Europe about five years ago and no news about him since them. She is half-educated as she could read and write in English. Currently, she sews native clothing for local women in her area and she has just one sewing machine. Questions: 1. How is the sewing business-like? Good, she said. She thinks the business is good although much patronage is usually recorded during the festive period. 2. What is the problem facing our sewing business? Expansion, she wants to expand, by renting a shop and buying two more machines.”

“Bobi is 25 a student in secondary, his father is late and mother is into trading. He is a smart local entrepreneur who was able to create a business for himself in his neighborhood. He deals is cooked noodles with fried eggs every 7 pm -10 pm daily. He invested 16000 Naira into the business about six months earlier and the business is doing well.  He is able to save 2000 Naira monthly from the business. When asked -What one thing you need to take this business to the next level? His greatest desire is to build a shelter since is he currently doing it in the open without any protection. Rain has really been disturbing the business.”

“Otabor is a young graduate, he has so many business ideas but yet to start anything.  Questions: 1. Why are you not piloting any of your business ideas yet? No startup capital. 2. Among your many business ideas which one do you want to pilot should you have the money and how much are you looking at? Shoe production was his best bet and he needs N500,000 to start the business.  Can I see your business plan for your shoe production business? Sadly, he does not know what a business plan is.”

Survey manual


  1. When you think of rural areas in Sub Saharan Africa, how do you envisage them?
  2. When you think of urban areas in Sub Saharan Africa, how do you envisage them?
  3. In an economic perspective: how do you perceive the context that people are living in?
  4. In your opinion, who has the most influence over the context in Sub Saharan Africa?
  5. What is your view on international assistance?
  6. Are there any types of projects that you think are beneficial? (Some examples are: tree planting, and educational workshops.)
  7. Are there projects that you think are harmful?

Views about donating to humanitarian causes

  1. Have you ever donated for humanitarian causes?
  2. If so: how was your experience? (please skip if you have not donated)
  3. If not: why? (please skip if you have donated)
  4. What do you (or would you) hope to get from donating?
  5. What do you (or would you) hope to achieve by donating?

Financial questions

  1. What is your monthly income or allowance (before tax)? (in Swedish krona)
    0 – 2,500 / 2,500 – 5,000 / 5,000 – 8,000 / 8,000 – 15,000 / 15,000 – 25,000 / 25,000 – 40,000 / 40,000 – 60,000 / 60,000 +
  2. How much would you be willing to donate one time? (in Swedish Krona)
  3. How much would you be willing to donate monthly?


  1. Which media/source do you receive most of your information from?
    News / Social media / Word of mouth / Educational institute / Work place / Email newsletters / Just from browsing the internet / Other:
  2. Would you like to be informed of the survey results?
  3. Would you like to be informed and invited to  social events (when the pandemic is finally over)?
  4. If you would like to receive the survey results, or to be invited to our gatherings please provide your e-mail address?
  5. Are you already donating or have donated to HR&S/Action10?
  6. Do you follow HR&S/Action10 on any social media?
  7. Do you give consent for your survey results (not including your e-mail address) to be shared?

Challenges / addressing the challenges

“How can you ensure accountability?”

“Soft-loans will never work, people will just not pay back.”

“Can you ensure gender equity and envitonmental protection?”


Market research

Market research is an organized effort to gather information about target markets and customers: know about them, starting with who they are.

It is an important component of business strategy and a major factor in maintaining competitiveness.

Market research helps to identify and analyze the needs of the market, the market size and the competition. Its techniques encompass both qualitative techniques such as focus groups, in-depth interviews, and ethnography, as well as quantitative techniques such as customer surveys, and analysis of secondary data.

It includes social and opinion research, and is the systematic gathering and interpretation of information about individuals or organizations using statistical and analytical methods and techniques of the applied social sciences to gain insight or support decision making.

The field of marketing research is much older than that of market research.[7] Although both involve consumers, Marketing research is concerned specifically about marketing processes, such as advertising effectiveness and salesforce effectiveness, while market research is concerned specifically with markets and distribution.

Market research is a way of getting an overview of consumers’ wants, needs and beliefs. It can also involve discovering how they act. The research can be used to determine how a product could be marketed. Market research is a way that producers and the marketplace study the consumer and gather information about the consumers’ needs. There are two major types of market research: primary research, which is sub-divided into quantitative and qualitative research, and secondary research.

Data collection

Rigorous sampling methodologies combined with high-quality data collection is important.

Data collection can be done by observing customer behaviour through in-situ studies or by processing e.g. log files, by interviewing customers, potential customers, stakeholders, or a sample of the general population. The data can be quantitative in nature (counting sales, clicks, eye-tracking) or qualitative (surveys, questionnaires, interviews, feedback).

Aggregating, visualizing, and turning data into actionable insights is one of the major challenges of market research and today, text analytics affords market researches methods to process large amounts of qualitative information and turn it into quantitative data, which is easier to visualize and use for formalized decision making. Data collection can use larger audience samples than the few hundred or thousand typically used in market research. Also required is the (at least passive) cooperation of those being surveyed; trustis also helpful.

Some data collection is incentivized.

A detailed, planned search process for all relevant data made by a researcher for a hypothesis. The most critical purpose of data collection in market research is to ensure that reliable data is collected for statistical analysis so brands can make decisions backed by rich data.