Back in 1985 when MacKenzie first started, the world of customer insights and feedback research looked a lot different than it does today. Data collection meant mailing out paper surveys or conducting phone interviews. Data processing meant manually entering survey responses, which meant feedback analysis and reporting could take a team of people weeks – or even months.
But it wasn’t only laborious and time consuming for businesses, it was for respondents as well. They were asked to fill out lengthy surveys by hand and would receive unexpected phone interview requests. Neither of these options were particularly convenient or enjoyable.
Today, a single person can design, build, and launch an online feedback survey within a matter of minutes. Results can be monitored in real time, data can be analyzed and visualized with a few clicks, and reports can just as easily be distributed across the entire organization. On the customer side, these online surveys are quicker, easier, and more engaging than most paper surveys. And in terms of brand development, they provide opportunities for staying connected with audiences and strengthening relationships.
Seeing how far the customer insights industry has come since 1985 is truly incredible, and I’m thrilled that businesses are prioritizing and investing in data-driven initiatives.
However, with the ease of online feedback surveys, many brands are speeding through the process and missing opportunities along the way. They’re conducting so many surveys that they’re drowning in high-volume, multi-source data; which can be a nightmare to keep organized. In terms of analytics, the numbers can be sliced, diced, and analyzed in so many ways that the most important insights aren’t always easy to find. And assuming those golden nuggets of insight are found, it may not be clear which actions to take or how they apply in real-world scenarios. So, in a sense, online feedback surveys have made things easier and harder at the same time.
This is like the emergence of social media and its impact on sales and marketing. Seemingly overnight, there was an open channel of communication allowing direct access to customers all day, every day. No longer limited by traditional media, brands had a quick and cost-effective way to reach customers around the world. But, as any marketing professional will tell you, simply having a presence on social media won’t automatically boost sales, nor will it guarantee brand content and messaging campaigns will be more impactful than in traditional media.
In the same way, simply having access to online feedback survey platforms won’t instantly answer the most pressing business questions, nor will it convert insights into action items. That’s because the thing about online survey tools is… they are tools, not solutions. They are the means, not the ends. They make things quicker, easier, and more efficient than ever before. However, like a hammer sitting on a table, the tools themselves aren’t enough to get the job done.
To maximize the impact and effectiveness of a tool like online feedback survey platforms, each feedback survey project needs to be strategic and goal oriented. It’s about being purposeful and intentional with each survey; asking the right people the right questions at the right time and having a plan for applying what is learned.
Furthermore, there is a lot to be gained by using past feedback to guide current research efforts with a futures-thinking mindset. Blending past, present, and future research goals when planning a project helps maximize impact and ROI. Ultimately, this holistic approach is how we find those golden nuggets of actionable insights and evolve into truly data-driven businesses.
So, this begs the question, “What does a strategic and goal-oriented feedback survey project look like?” I’m glad you asked! We’ve put together a step-by-step Research Project Guide to walk you through the process. We’ve even included a few survey topics to consider for your next customer insights project. Click here to download the guide.
The more we listen to, understand, and appreciate each customer’s feedback, the better we can deliver meaningful benefits, value, and joy. So, if you’d like to learn more after reviewing the guide, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I love talking about this stuff, and I’m more than happy to share any ideas or recommendations in support of your customer insights efforts!