Using Your Target Audience To Discover Early Warning Systems

August 23, 2011 by  Filed under: Marketing 

The customer is always right, so the saying goes, but that can only be of benefit to you if you actually listen to your customers. They may not tell you what you want to hear every time. However, you are depending on your customers for your company’s profits, so listen to them. It’s a simple, but effective way of discovering and rectifying possible problems before they can get out of hand.

One of the best ways of hearing what your customers have to say is to ask them through a survey. This could take the form of a simple feedback survey about their personal experience of some aspect of your business.

For example, Skype, the popular Internet telephony system, has a pop-up window that appears on the screen as soon as a call has finished. It asks the user to rate the quality of the call. The user can click a radio button that best matches their experience, and then click a submit button, at which point the pop-up window disappears. The survey is simple and easy to use, and most likely allows Skype to tailor its service much closer to its customer needs.

This kind of feedback can be invaluable to a company, but only if it is acted on. All too often a company will gather feedback from their customers, but then do nothing with it. Gathering the feedback through a survey is only the first step. It is then essential that the company immediately implements a plan of action to address any issues that have been highlighted through the customer feedback survey.

By taking appropriate rectifying action on a problem that becomes apparent through a feedback survey, you are building a positive relationship with your customers. Your company is no longer a faceless entity that won’t listen to customer complaints. When your company responds to customer concerns, the customer will feel a greater loyalty and will likely remain a customer for much longer.

There are a number of ways to conduct a customer survey. They can range from a face-to-face questionnaire, to a phone call or email survey. However, the important thing is immediacy. The customer should have their recent shopping experience fresh in their mind.

In the Skype example given above, the customer is immediately presented with a short survey about the call they have just made. The call is still very fresh in their mind and therefore easy for them to evaluate. If customers are asked to evaluate an experience they can hardly remember, because too much time has been allowed to pass, the survey is likely to be a failure.

Feedback surveys should be quick and easy to complete. They should consist of three to seven easy to understand, unambiguous questions. The questions should not be asked in a way that is likely to skew the answers in any particular direction, but rather they should be posed so that simple, honest answers result. In this way, the data is easier to analyze and evaluate.

Customer feedback surveys are one of the best ways to spot potential problems in a company’s marketing system. They are simple and inexpensive to conduct, and they work best when they are used on a regular basis, though not to the point of annoying the customer. It is only when a company knows it has a problem that it can act on it, and a customer feedback survey is probably the best tool to use in this respect.

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