Anyone with internet access can program and launch a customer feedback survey within a matter of minutes. However, as is the case with many things in life, just because you can do something does not mean you should do that thing.
There are many pieces to the customer feedback puzzle. From goal setting and project planning to results analytics and insights application. Not to mention the in-between connector pieces needed for a smooth transition from one step to the next. A customer insights strategy organizes all these pieces, fits them together properly, and frames the resulting picture in a way that adds value across an entire organization.
To further illustrate the value and benefits, here is a step-by-step look at a Customer Insights Strategy in action:
Project Type: Customer Feedback
Project Focus: Brand Perception
Phase 1: Goals & Objectives
Start by defining organizational goals. Whether they are related to brand development, marketing, sales, or any other area of your business, clarify and define your version of success.
With these macro-goals in place, there will be a framework for establishing micro-goals along the way. For each new project or initiative, establish how it will contribute to your organizational goals. When there’s direct alignment between micro and macro-level goals, the post-project action items will be easier to plan. Without strategic alignment between project purpose and plan of action, the outcome may not achieve the desired progress.
Example: Considering the organizational goal of being considered a primary competitor in the areas of quality and value, leveraging customer feedback will enable an assessment the brand’s existing perception within their target market. This project will provide data needed to gauge the effectiveness of recent marketing campaigns through comparative analysis against benchmarked perception data.
Phase 2: Project Planning
An important element of strategic planning is considering past activity and future impact. Reviewing previous projects will shed light on best practices and spotlight potential obstacles. Applying lessons learned from past experiences will increase ROI from those resources. It will also uncover opportunities to build upon existing insights through performance benchmarks or diving deeper into areas of interest identified through previous feedback projects.
Looking forward, it is helpful to envision next-steps and how this project might benefit future efforts. Just as strategic planning for this project includes reflecting on past efforts, so will future projects reflect on what is currently being planned. Considering ways in which steps today can set up successes tomorrow builds a foundation of ongoing, long-term value.
Example: While reviewing the results of previous brand perception studies, several survey questions addressed topics that are relevant to the project currently being planned. Those questions are carried over into the new survey being developed so that comparative analytics can establish how customer perception has changed over time. Furthermore, open-text responses from the previous study uncovered new elements of consumer preference. These findings are tagged as areas to explore further by including them in the upcoming survey. Seeing the value of past open-text responses in our current planning process, it is decided to continue asking open-ended questions with hopes of uncovering new topics to be addressed in the future.
Phase 3: Survey Question Development
Question wording, response option display, and survey order are important areas of survey development. To ensure data reliability and accuracy, there must be a concerted effort to avoid bias, respondent confusion, and all-around ambiguity. To produce actionable insights, questions must be direct and yield conclusive feedback. Otherwise, the answers to one question may raise another question which produces observational rather than actionable insights.
Having identified questions in previous research projects that are relevant to current objectives, it is important that wording and response options remain consistent to ensure comparative analytics are reliable. It is not enough to ask “similar” questions or cover the same topics if the intent is to produce directly comparable results.
Example: A previously conducted survey presented a competitor attribute grid to establish which brands respondents most associate with a variety of attributes. This was a helpful tool in defining brand positioning which led to reexamining brand messages at that time. Having launched several new marketing campaigns since then, that same question is to be included in the current survey to provide an updated look at brand attribute association. An important note: since the previous survey, new competitors have emerged. However, they are not included in this specific question as to maintain comparative consistence with past data. The new competitors are included in a separate question to avoid reducing comparative reliability. In the future, this question can again be included for an even more detailed look at how brand perception has changed over time.
Phase 4: Survey Programming & Design
While customer feedback surveys serve a functional purpose (collecting feedback data), it is important to remember these are also customer-facing branded touchpoints. Just as any marketing material should have consistent branding and messaging, so should this survey be designed to reflect the brand’s identity.
In addition to collecting information from consumers, there is an opportunity to deliver information to consumers as well. By conveying the importance of their feedback, sharing how their input will be used, and reinforcing the brand’s core values, this feedback instrument can become a relationship building tool.
Example: In collaboration with the marketing and branding departments, this survey was designed to reflect recent brand campaign imagery and to reinforce updates to brand identity. By offering a consistent experience across all channels of communication, this feedback project maintains alignment with all other branded content efforts. Not only does this assist in the brand building effort, it instills confidence in survey respondents that it is, in fact, a feedback survey being distributed and collected by the brand; not an unreliable or unknown entity.
Phase 5: Analysis & Insights Application
As with any customer feedback project, the analysis phase can lead in a variety of different directions. There are sure to be interesting observations covering an array of topics, however it is important to maintain focus on the actionable insights within these findings. This is where we see the benefit of having clearly established goals and objectives. Reflecting on Phase 1 provides an analytic guide and reporting framework. Any shortcomings or missteps during that process will be apparent at this point in the project because with an unclear purpose comes unclear direction for analysis.
Example: The focus and purpose of this project was to address brand perception. Therefore, results analysis should highlight findings directly applicable to that topic. To track and measure the impact of recent marketing campaigns, past brand association findings will be compared to the findings from this study. In addition, open-text responses will be filtered to highlight any emerging topics that are of immediate interest. Additional value can be gained by presenting findings that identify areas of opportunity for future research. Here, again, is the forward-thinking strategic element that considers how the results of this current project might add value to future efforts.
Brands need a Customer Insights Strategy to ensure they are getting the most value out of their efforts. By thinking beyond immediate tasks and considering how each piece contribute to the bigger picture, there are additional opportunities to be uncovered. Whether it is leveraging best practices, mitigating risk, or establishing a foundation for future success, taking a strategic approach will always yield more impactful results than conducting self-contained, ad-hoc projects.
Are you interested in building or strengthening your own Customer Insights Strategy?