Few things serve dual purposes. But surveys do. They can help you find out what customers think, and at the same time make them feel more wanted. Are you worried about what your competitors are doing? A survey can shed light on it. We cover these disciplines-and more-in this issue of Information Intelligence from infoUSA.
“Customer surveys have a multitude of purposes,” says Linda Shea, senior vice president & global managing director of customer strategies for Opinion Research Corporation, an infoUSA company. “They can communicate how valuable the customer is from a relationship perspective, they can help you learn more about the customer and their expectations, and they can also help you learn about the competition.”
Shea adds: “Everyone likes to feel they’re important and customer surveys help reiterate how much a company values them as a customer.” She points out that 9 out of 10 people are flattered when someone asks their opinion and when the relationship is significant to the customer they want the opportunity to share their perspectives.
Shea says that in the customer survey world there are two types of customer surveys most commonly utilized – those that look at all the different touchpoints a company has with its customers and those that are transaction or event based. Surveys that evaluate customer touchpoints, or interactions, can address everything from websites to call centers to point of purchase. Transaction or event-based surveys, on the other hand, are focused on understanding the service level that was provided during a specific interaction.
There are a variety of ways to obtain information from your customers. Some companies print out invitations to take surveys on receipts – some of them even sweeten the deal by offering a discount or allowing the customer to enter into a contest to win money or the like. Phone and e-mail surveys are also common, so there aren’t right or wrong techniques but rather a series of techniques that can be considered based on the specific situation.
“There are pros and cons of every technique,” Shea notes, adding that companies must also consider how much time they have to wait for the information, how many customers they want to survey and how many questions need to be included in the survey.
While survey techniques are more or less created equal, companies need to make sure that they handle their customers with care during the survey process, Shea says. “Customers can become very frustrated by surveys,” she warns.
The biggest problems occur when companies aren’t clear on why they want the feedback and how the feedback will be used. Customers also get upset when there’s no communication loop, Shea notes.
“People talk about how customers are over-surveyed and that participation levels are declining, but a lot of customers would feel more compelled to participate if they felt like their comments and answers would make a difference,” Shea stresses. “When they don’t see any changes – that’s when they get frustrated.”