Almost every type of business requires customer research in order to be successful. Why? Because effective research provides data and insights that inform better decisions.
When developing a strategic customer experience plan, research and surveys provide accurate and specific information about the current state of your customer experience, how this compares to competitors, how the employee experience is impacting the customer experience and what customers expect in their engagement with your brand in the future.
Armed with solid data, companies can identify new opportunities, identify how effectively employees are delivering on the brand promise, design innovative product and service solutions, target or overcome potential problems, segment audiences and decide on the who, how and when to engage with an array of stakeholders, from potential and existing customers to investors.
Future-focused corporations use customer research to set out new business opportunities and adapt and remain flexible to changing market trends – by remaining relevant to new markets, companies can realise new areas for expansion which can help increase their customer base.
Furthermore, with new consumers coming onboard, customer research further assists a brand to understand and speak to potential markets, set achievable targets and goals for growth and make informed decisions going forward both in sales and in product development. Informed decisions backed by relevant research means organisations can build more advocacy among existing customers and incorporate products and services into their marketing strategy ahead of the competition, remain relevant and define a solid economic forecast for the future.
Customer research increases engagement
Customer surveys are an evaluation tool and progress tracker that will keep you growing, developing and creating ideas ahead of the competition.
Through customer research, you get a comprehensive overview and full understanding of the factors that affect your business, as well as next-step strategies required to elevate your performance. Using tactical manoeuvres garnered from customer surveys you are measuring against wasted effort and reducing loss associated with a product launch or marketing campaign, and ultimately increasing customer satisfaction at the end of the chain.
Research through qualitative customer surveys, one-on-one interviews and focus group discussions allow understanding regarding customer satisfaction scores; helps identify problem areas in your business and assists in understanding the needs of customers and the impact employees have on the customer experience.
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Tips to improve your customer surveys
Have a clear goal in mind. Know what are trying to achieve through the customer research, for example, do you want to understand customer perception of your brand, are you trying to identify new opportunities, etc? Your goal will determine the type of questions and the format of your research.
Do not use standardized survey questions. While it may be tempting to just repackage an existing survey you’ve found online, this won’t deliver the results you need. Remember: “There is no ultimate question, none. And that’s because one, every business is different and they need to get feedback that’s appropriate for their business, and two, the value is not in asking the question, the value is in taking action based on the insights that you find.” (Bruce Temkin, co-founder of CXPA).
Keep it short and simple for online surveys. The more questions you ask, the more likely customers will abandon the survey midway. Customers shouldn’t feel like you are making them work for you. For more qualitative feedback a one-on-one interview can be useful and provide deeper insights that would be less likely to be discovered in an online survey, specifically delving into important opportunities for enhancement and improvement.
Personalise survey communication. Customers are more likely to participate if communication directing them to an online survey is personalised as it makes them feel known and valued. It’s also important to develop supporting communication for your research that is aligned to and supports, your brand positioning.
Timing is key. According to a Survey Monkey study, online surveys are most likely to be responded to when you send them out on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays. So, when it comes to an online survey, the best time to send it out is either at the beginning or end of the week.
Be independent, engage the experts. Customers are more likely to give honest feedback if they know the information that they are providing is confidential and that the survey is being conducted independently. Commission experts to assist you in the research and to design a customised survey and conduct qualitative interviews and focus group discussions that help meet your specific objectives. A good research partner will not only report on findings but provide recommendations and strategic input informed by the research.
Customer research informs internal communications
When designing your next customer survey remember that staff are your most valuable tools in creating a memorable customer experience. Through customer surveys and market research, you can determine whether there are gaps in what the brand promises and what staff deliver. These gaps can help inform your employee experience strategy, as internal communication and employee engagement directly contributes to how effectively staff engage with customers.