When making strategic brand decisions, feedback survey research is an invaluable asset. It provides insights and perspectives from the outside looking in, which is something we can’t get anywhere else. It guides us to deliver truly meaningful products, services, and experiences because customers are directly telling us what they want, need, and expect. It also enables us to challenge internal assumptions and test hypotheses so that our decisions are driven by facts rather than best guesses.
However, with customer feedback having such wide-ranging impact and potential, it’s easy to get caught up in wanting to learn everything about everything – and to do so all at once in a single annual survey. This often feels like the most effective and efficient approach; addressing a variety of topics in one lengthy swoop. In reality, this can lead to more confusion, uncertainty, and “paralysis by analysis” because of the sheer volume of information gathered and the limited depth of each topic covered. To make strategic decisions we need strategic insights. And those strategic insights come from a strategic approach to feedback collection, analysis, and application. It comes down to quality and value over quantity and volume.
Capturing those golden nuggets of customer feedback is about asking the right people the right questions at the right time based on our specific brand goals and objectives. Otherwise, we risk getting overwhelmed to the point where we lose sight of what insights matter most. By clarifying which survey topics are most relevant to your objectives, you can narrow the scope and produce more actionable insights. So, here I’ve outlined a few key survey topics to consider when planning your next customer feedback project.
Getting to Know You Surveys – Watch Video
In our personal lives, relationship building is all about getting to know the other person and learning who they are. So, why not approach customer relationship building the same way?
After spending so much time and energy acquiring new customers, getting to know them on a personal level is a great next step. Not only does it show the individual how much they are valued beyond the money they spend, but it also equips your brand with insights for experience personalization, targeted marketing, and – of course – relationship building.
Awareness and Perception – Watch Video
Too often we see brand awareness and brand perception set aside to a “we already know that stuff” mentality. But chances are, things have changed since you last checked.
While seemingly basic and straight-forward concepts compared to other topics in the world of brand development, awareness and perception studies yield incredibly valuable insights that have wide-ranging strategic applications. From sales and marketing to identity and culture, complacency in this area risks missing out on some pivotal growth opportunities.
A great example is the brand which launched a new product last year and committed a lot of resources to promotional campaigns. After conducting a brand awareness study, it was learned that despite those marketing efforts, most consumers were still unaware of their new product. And among those consumers who were aware, they had an inaccurate perception of the new product. These insights enabled the brand to revisit, reimagine, and relaunch their new product promotional campaign in ways that reached a wider audience and addressed the most relevant perception issues.
Customer Satisfaction – Watch Video
Before launching a Customer Experience & Satisfaction survey, there’s one important question that needs to be answered; What do YOU want the customer’s experience to be?
Without defining the intended customer experience upfront, any survey results will be missing the context needed to produce actionable insights. Instead, there will be “interesting observations” which spark meaningful discussions but miss the mark in terms of providing actionable insights to guide decision making.
Furthermore, asking the question of intended customer experience will identify any misalignment or confusion that exists internally. If there are inter-departmental differences in opinions or objectives, those areas need to be addressed before customer feedback is collected. Often, we find there are a few steps and actions brands need to take within their own world before the full benefits of customer insights are realized.
Lost Customers – Watch Video
Losing customers is an inevitable part of business. So, we can either cut the loss and move on, or we can dig in looking for ways to learn and grow our brand. We prefer the latter.
First and foremost, we must recognize that customers are lost for a reason. Whether that reason is related to a brand experience, the result of an emerging competitor, or something different altogether, something drove the customer’s decision to leave. Unless we explicitly ask, we will never know the specific reason. If left unaddressed, that reason could impact current and future customers in the same way leading to the same result.
While it may be uncomfortable to hear and hard to stomach, listening to why customers don’t plan on returning is one of the best ways to grow.
Overall Brand Health – Watch Video
Stepping back for a holistic view of your brand’s awareness levels, perception, customer satisfaction, and other feedback survey results is how we monitor Brand Health.
It’s common, and easy, to keep survey results in siloes or fragmented data files. But the big-picture realities become clear when bringing all of our customer insights together. This is an important aspect of maximizing the impact of customer insights because more detailed and complex storylines emerge when we gain a holistic view. Dots can be connected, and opportunities can be identified that otherwise may have gone overlooked when data is kept on its own.
As new data, feedback, and insights come in, we revisit our Brand Health assessment to ensure things are trending in the right direction. If they’re not, we have established a data-driven foundation that will help pinpoint areas in need of attention, and we have the customer insights needed to make corrective decisions.
Bonus Topic: Survey Incentives – Watch Video
A common question I get is, what’s the best incentive to boost survey response rates? My answer is, follow up with respondents. Yes, it’s counter-intuitive to think of an incentive happening after the survey is already taken. But customer insights are a marathon, not a sprint.
The most common approach to survey incentives is buying participation with a gift card or a chance to win prizes. Not only is this very expensive, but it also lowers confidence in the survey results because some people will click through just to get the reward – not putting much thought into the questions being asked. A much more efficient and cost-effective way to motivate participation in your survey is to show customers how much their feedback matters with follow up communication. Go beyond thanking them for their participation to reiterate the purpose and importance of conducting that survey. Share a few high-level details about how the results will be used and why their input is so important to the brand development process.
When respondents hear back from a brand after completing a survey, they know their feedback has been received. When they understand how their feedback will be used and how their voice fits into the brand’s long-term plans, they will likely continue providing feedback when requested in the future.
The keys to a successful customer feedback project are having a clearly defined purpose and set plans for action once the survey results have been analyzed. If either of these aspects are missing, or even underdeveloped, the insights gained are likely to be more observational than they are actionable.
For more customer feedback tips and videos, follow me on LinkedIn. Also, please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or to review projects you’re currently working on.