Data collection: Customer surveys
There are many reasons for getting customer feedback. Some key issues are:
- Innovation. Many successful new products and services are the direct result of speaking with customers. Companies in fast-moving businesses, or those which rely on innovation, need to stay in touch with their customers to get their ideas and product/service feedback.
- External performance feedback. Customers can spotlight processes which are working well, and others which are not.
- Increasing customer retention. Learning what is most important to customers and how the organization is seen as performing, relative to competitors, can help to prioritize change efforts.
- Recovering customers. The first step to recovering lost customers is finding them; the second step is finding out why they left. Sometimes, customers can be recovered with relatively little work.
- Advance warning. Customer data can be used as part of a measurement system to warn the organization of upcoming trends, performance issues, or opportunities.
How to get customer feedback
The ideal way to get customer feedback is:
- Using interviews, because an interviewer can gain more in-depth information while often achieving greater honesty
- Interviewing both your customers and competitors’ customers, to explore perceptions and relative strengths and weaknesses
- Linking customer information with employee and operational information, to discover which internal issues directly affect customer satisfaction, retention, and market share
- Obtaining customer opinions via indirect methods, e.g. using the Internet
- Hooking up the customer information gathering with a strong customer recovery effort, because regaining old customers may be cheaper and easier than finding new ones, and because a recovered customer can be far more loyal than a new one
While this is the ideal, many organizations do not have the resources to do it. Depending on their resources and needs, they may choose to do some of these, but not all of them.
- Customer surveys for the ISO 9000 quality standards
- Customer surveys to increase organizational effectiveness
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