We believe external research brings objectivity. By working independently, we're able to uncover some fairly fundamental insights around how customers perceive things as well as how they explain things.
Often during our research we may act like as "apprentices" which heavily suggests to participants (customers in this case) that we have little/no subject matter expertise - and often we don't. One key advantage is that this approach helps people open up. It also allows us to probe and ask those "silly" questions that you can only ask from a position of ignorance (but often leads to the most insightful findings).
External research approach also protects against confirmation bias, i.e. asking leading questions in the hunt for confirmation of the interviewer's hypothesis. We tend to experience that internal staff have a perception that they'd like validated.
We're focusing on customer needs to understand journeys as opposed to product-led journeys to understand existing and potential touchpoints. By focusing on customer needs (following the apprentice approach above) we're able to identify unmet needs. For example, a product-led journey might try to understand "how might I find (in store or online) Daily Reviving Concentrate?". This is great in ensuring that all touch points include appropriate signposting to this product. However, by focusing on the customer's journey from a point of ignorance we're able to understand a full journey from as far back as "how might I help prevent skin breakouts?". Thinking in this way helps us get a clearer view of how customer motivations for answering their question. This understanding might include a combination of appropriate channels and methods of raising awareness, approaches to product education, understanding the triggers to purchase, complementary products and services, and often much more. In our experience, this approach is most often adopted by disruptors as it's those "gaps" in unmet needs that they're targeting.