Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Surveys? Not Me!

I took in a small business workshop earlier this week in which the presenter talked about ways to understand what customers want.  Top on her list were...surveys.

It is high time to put surveys in a box.  This is a market research tool from a prior century.  It was a marvelous innovation in 1920.  It was amazingly credible in 1970.  And it has failed in 2015.  I spent many years implementing and interpreting surveys, and couldn't help but notice that response rates and data quality have plunged to the point where results are meaningless.  Part of the reason for this is that respondents had been so bombarded from surveys in every direction that they tuned out.  Want proof?  Think about these waiter/waitress/clerk "surveys" at the bottom of sales receipts that-when-completed-make-you-eligible-for-prizes.  Does anyone fill these out?

It is bad enough now that consumers dislike most any survey.

How to learn what customers want?  Ask them, in person, about their needs.  Look at comments in social media.  Read reviews of yours and competitors.  Scan blogs and chat rooms.  YES, these are not scientific samples.  But they are opinion leaders, or highly energized consumers, or both.  Always invite people to engage with you in emails, phone calls, written comments, and face-to-face.  You'll learn alot from these unstructured conversations.

Don't fall back on outdated methods to engage with customers.  Don't damage your own brand by following the lemmings off the cliff.  There is a better way!

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