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What your customers think

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In this blog we explore the basic principles of customer research and assesses some of the options for how to gather feedback from your customers.

It is worth taking stock of how much you know about your customers and what they think of you. How do you gather feedback from them? Do you really know whether they are satisfied? Do you know what delights them? Do you know what causes them distress?
And, if you do know the answers to those questions, Are your customer needs driving your strategy? And on a more tactical level are your customer-facing staff empowered to keep customers happy?
If you would answer ‘no’ or even ‘I’m not sure’ to any of those questions then you likely need to get more feedback from your customers.

So, you’ve decided you want to get feedback from your customers, what are the rules you should put in place to do this effectively? There are a number of key points that we think are important to tackle:
1. Try to reach a representative sample of your customers, or even better give all your customers an opportunity to give feedback.
2. Think about those people who didn’t actually transact, but who are still your customers, people who browsed your website, came into your store, looked at your trade stand, came with a patient as supporter or carer. These people are important too, their experiences matter but they are often harder to reach
3. Think about all the touchpoints your customers have with you. It’s not just about the store experience or the event or the appointment. The touchpoints that led up to that are vital; was your website easy to use? how was the booking process? could they find what they wanted? Was the call centre helpful? And it doesn’t stop at the transaction – was the after-sales support good? Were follow-up actions taken? Did the product or service perform as it should? You can’t necessarily ask everyone about every touchpoint but collectively they make up the overall perception of your organisation
4. Strive for ‘in moment’ or ‘real time’ feedback. Asking someone how their experience was 3 months after a routine transaction will give you little detail and might not even be accurately recalled. If they had a bad experience, contacting them long after the event will do little to improve their view of you and in the meantime they may well have written negative reviews and told friends and colleagues about their (poor) experience. If you ask for feedback close to the point of experience, it will be accurate and detailed. It will be relevant to the customer and will be actionable for you.

Online surveys are often the best approach, offering flexibility and value and we’ll talk about them in more detail later, but it’s worth spending a few minutes looking at the alternatives.

In the past market research was typically done using interviewers who asked questions face-to-face. There are still times when this is appropriate, particularly if you are looking for detailed feedback from a hard-to-reach group. However, it’s expensive and is rarely the best solution for customer experience feedback.

The same goes for telephone interviews. People are busy and increasingly hostile towards unsolicited phone calls. Again, in some scenarios it’s still a method to consider, when you need detail or want to show important customers you care for example in a business-to-business environment where you are reliant on a small number of very big customers.
Pen and paper surveys were for many years the mainstay of customer experience research, whether handed out in the store or at the event or posted out to customers whose details were known. It’s a cost-effective way of reaching large volumes of customers or visitors. It does however have a significant ‘hidden’ cost associated with processing of the completed surveys and, whilst feedback may have been provided close to the point of experience, the time to process questionnaires can delay feedback
DIY surveys are increasingly popular at the moment – using one of the many free or low cost survey systems that allow you to write your own questionnaire and produce your own analysis. These surveys have their place, when you need quick answers to simple questions, but they are rarely the best primary way of getting robust customer satisfaction feedback.
Qualitative research, where you talk to just a few customers in detail is great for providing insight on why, but doesn’t tell you the share of customers with that view.

For the majority of organisations an online survey is the best approach to use. The survey should typically be set-up centrally and can then be accessed through a variety of routes. Where you know your customers you can send an invitation via email immediately after they have interacted with a touchpoint. You can hand out survey invitations to visitors with details of how to go on line to take part. But best of all you can install the survey on a tablet and make it available to visitors to your store, your event, your tourist destination. This enables real-time survey completion and rapid analysis of the results. Visitors can tell you what they think immediately and you can take actions if you need to quickly and effectively.

Using a tablet solution allows you to have flexibility
– the tablet can be hand-held to be passed around your patients or visitors or it can be housed in a stand that can be situated in key locations; at the entrance/exit, at the information desk, by main attractions and so on
– the questionnaire can be easily adapted to suit the immediate needs, for example a core set of questions can then be supplemented with additional ones perhaps about a particular aspect of your service or in response to changes you are making in the service you offer. The possibilities are almost endless.

This content comes from a series of short webinars in which we share our perspective on how best to understand your customers experiences and how to ensure they are happy and loyal. They are jointly produced by Webropol, a web-based survey and analytics tool provider and XV Insight, a market research and insight consultancy. Please share your feedback on our Webinar series here so that we can improve our content. Thank you! 

You can view the full set of webinars on YouTube or if you’d like more information please get in touch: