Not Satisfied?

Not knowing if your customers are satisfied should make you unsatisfied.

One of the oldest and yet more ignored market research activities is customer satisfaction surveying. Since customers are the source of buzz – both positive and negative – knowing what your paying customers think and feel is critical to seeing potentially fatal problems and capitalizing on stunning capabilities. It also can uncover where you think what you offer is important but actually disinterests the market.

It’s almost as good as surveying lost sales an activity which is very valuable and equally rare.

The key objectives of every customer satisfaction survey are to know where a company excels (for promotional purposes), where it lags (for improvement) and where there are opportunities for profitable change. I once ran a customer satisfaction survey that included a pricing sensitivity measure and discovered that my client was undercharging for their product. They received a 15% top-line revenue increase on that one data point alone while investing nothing for product enhancement (they also hired a tech writer because customers described the product documentation as “horrible”, “turgid” and “unintelligible”).

Marketing should lead customer satisfaction measurements because marketing is the primary user of the data. Customer attitudes drive buzz and brand. Lack of knowledge about what paying customers think means you have less insight into what they are privately telling your prospects. Product failings appear in satisfaction surveys and redirect development cycles (for example, a useless new feature set was eliminated and the budget shifted to a tech writer in the example above).

Measuring is the trick.

One mistake many marketing pros make is waiting for an annual (or longer) interval between surveys. People’s memories are shaped by time, modifying what they actually experienced and observed. Measuring satisfaction requires capturing early experiences as well as more marinated opinions. In a perfect world, you would poll a customer shortly after purchase (while the sales, support and implementation experience is fresh in their minds) and after a period of practical product use (note, this largely applies to complex B2B products – consumer products rarely have a long enough shelf life to need or make good use of two-tailed satisfaction surveys).

Some highly sophisticated firms break down engagement phases and survey at appropriate moments. Typical are post-sale, post-installation, first-quarter use and first anniversary mileposts. Needless to say, that is a lot of surveying and overkill for most. But it does illustrate that customer perceptions and what needs to be measured (sales/marketing effectiveness, installation/configuration design, learning curve issues, long-term viability) occur over time and that each shapes your whole product offering.

We can help. We do a lot of surveys, host our own online surveying suite and can even manage the ongoing processing for you.

 


Comments

Not Satisfied? — 1 Comment

  1. I agree with you on the customer survey part. You can trust your customers to give you honest and at times brutally honest :P feedback. If you truly wanna improve, this is the best way to go about it.

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