Stop with the customer surveys and start talking ​to your audience

KEY IDEA: For many organizations, surveys qualify as “talking to the customer.” They’re ubiquitous – appearing in hotel rooms, after online purchases, and in hospital emergency departments. But do they really qualify as customer consultation? Or are they a symptom of isolated management just putting on a show of interest? What can be done instead?

It seems every time I order something online I’m getting a survey to ask “what can we do better?”. Well, first you can stop bothering me with surveys and second if you want me to fill out your survey you had better reward me for my time.

There’s no way that traditional surveys could deliver a deep strategic analysis. But what about the expense of conducting interviews with a large sample of customers?  Rather, should you ask “what about not conducting a conversation with your customers. Can you afford to miss wha they want?”

Not too long ago a client, who sells weather stations online, asked us to look in why so many people were leaving their site without placing orders. In just one half-day of talking to customers, we learned that the most significant reasons were the expense of shipping and prominent notice that said orders are not processed on weekends. In the age of Amazon’s fantastic customer service, online retailers need to step up their game.

The biggest survey is the measure of repeat business from your existing customers. if they’re happy they will reward you with more business, if not they’ll look elsewhere. One of the biggest complaints we continue to hear is online retailers who take too long to ship products. Consumers feel “if you charge me right away than I want my product shipped right away”.

Of course, the downside to surveys is that consumers usually have no problem in talking with people from different brands. The critical challenge, however, is determining which insights are actionable and which one are just angry kvetching consumers.

Marketers spend too much time trying to gather insights via big data instead of getting out of their offices and watching people shop and listen to why they are purchasing certain products. It’s time to listen and ditch the survey and watch instead of relying on big data.

About richmeyer

Rich is a passionate marketer who is able to quickly understand what turns a prospect into a customer. He challenges the status quo and always asks "what can we do better"? He knows how to take analytics and turn them into opportunities and he is a great communicator.

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