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I am not junk mail: A plea for Product Surveys

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Do you ever feel that your voice doesn’t matter to your service providers?

If you answered “yes”, the next question you should ask is whether or not you toss customer satisfaction surveys into the recycling bin as soon as you come in from getting the mail.

Surveys may seem like junk mail, but they’re among your best opportunities to achieve tailored products and services.

Your Lifestyle Matters

We’ve all heard the term “demographics”, and we understand that our age, income, and the number of family members in our household affect our spending habits. Previously, it was easy for market researchers to group potential and existing customers into a broad set of niche categories. Geography, limited information outlets, and subcultures made their jobs easier.

In the digital age, however, our communities aren’t limited to location, and our attitudes are shaped by a deluge of media. Therefore, surveys allow companies to better relate to their target markets, incorporating questions about favorite podcasts, websites, movies, and online shopping resources.

Questions about favorite pastimes not only shape how advertisers relate to you as an individual but also help companies such as insurance brokers develop packages designed for emerging or specialized markets. Do you enjoy adventure travel or extreme sports? Do you rent your property on peer-to-peer platforms such as Airbnb, or drive for Lyft or Uber? Companies respond to emerging markets when they identify patterns through surveys that provide data collected straight from their markets.

Data Mining Doesn’t Replace Customer Input

Those of us who use social media know the phrase, “if you’re not paying for it, you’re the product.” Indeed, personal data gathered from Facebook posts and web searches is the modern equivalent of the Gold Rush, but who hasn’t seen ads pop up in our social media feeds for completely off-base products? Algorithms only go so far in defining our needs as consumers. When we have the opportunity to actively interact with companies important to us, it’s more likely that those companies can develop and tailor products and services most appropriate to our needs.

Customer Loyalty Requires Direct Input

When customers are inundated with ads and options, competition is fierce. Studies show that loyalty rewards programs are losing effectiveness in earning repeat business and that customers are increasingly fickle when renewing service contracts or retaining relationships with companies that previously saw little turnover in clientele. Incentive programs often take too much effort on the customer’s part, and savvy consumers know that most of these programs are designed more for the purpose of gathering general data on spending habits than on empowering the customer’s voice.

According to National Business Research Institute, paper surveys, as well as physical “invitations” to complete online surveys are among the most effective means of gathering input relating to customer satisfaction and retention. “Mailing surveys out in letter formats, or handing them to customers as they leave the premises, offers advantages over the more time-consuming face-to-face and phone surveys. One of the chief benefits of paper surveys is allowing those being surveyed the chance to think about their answers in their own time.”

What makes a customer flee a business relationship? Feeling unappreciated is consistently among the top reasons, even as bank branches and neighborhood insurance offices are replaced by web portals and digital transactions. When we’re given the opportunity to respond to specific questions about a service or experience, we feel empowered and appreciated, and are more likely to stick around.

Who Makes the First Move?

Customers are more likely to “bail” on a business than directly file a grievance. As a consumer, you probably relate. How would your attitude change if you were provided an opportunity to address your “pain points”?

“Some people are uncomfortable with conflict. Rather than resolve a misunderstanding or draw attention to their unsatisfactory transaction with you, they may put their feelings on the back burner until further down the road, expressing their issues at unexpected times or ending the relationship without warning,” states an article featured by Kapta, a leading key account customer software platform designed for b2b relationship management. Kapta advocates for proactive identification of potential client dissatisfaction through traditional surveys and, when possible, personalized interaction and “Voice of Customer” programs.

While focus groups, personal meetings, and phone calls aren’t cost-effective for all business models, the proactive approach translates to any customer feedback strategy.

Its A Win-Win

Communication is paramount to any relationship, and companies value your input. In return, when you take the time to fill out a survey, you probably feel like you’ve been heard.

It might also make you feel good to know that your opinions will likely enhance your future experience with that company, who can develop products, services, and customer care efforts that seem designed with you in mind.

 

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