Thursday, October 15

Why Surveys Are The Next Big Thing In Business


Admittedly, this title could provoke some head scratching at first: "SURVEYS?! How are boring old surveys going to all of a sudden become some major player in business?" And I'm so glad you asked.

Feedback-based marketing is nothing new. Everyone knows, or at least repeats, the mantra that 'the customer is always right' and that giving your customers exactly what they want is the key to the success of your business. It was true 50 years ago, and it's still true today. Having said that, the growth you're about to see from survey/feedback based business practices is due to the fact that new technology is vastly changing the ways we can and do interact with customers.

Traditionally, surveys have suffered from one or two shortcomings. For instance, if you wanted to survey customers on the spot, or right after they had made a purchase in a brick and mortar store, you were likely going to have to use paper surveys. This could have been valuable realtime feedback, but the tedium and cost of paper survey supplies and data entry was more than a little speedbump in keeping customer feedback a viable adjust-as-you-go business strategy.

More recently, we've had programs and websites which allow the creation of online surveys. These surveys can have their data indexed and organized in realtime, saving you hours or work and pay fishing through results. The downside was that there were no easy ways to execute these types of surveys when they were most needed (i.e. at a point of sale). Instead, customers would have to be emailed a link or asked to visit a website hours or even days later. At this point, the quality and accuracy of feedback and recall declines and the insights you get won't be as good as they could have been.

Now, however, companies like Responster and Customerville have jumped on the rise of tablets and mobile phones to help bring the best of both worlds together. For your business, that looks like cross-platform surveys that are made to be integrated into touch and run on any device. Now, a business that invests in setting up a cheap iPad kiosk can all of a sudden be collecting helpful feedback from a large percentage of their customers within the first day.

Over time, it will become more apparent that the businesses who take advantage of platforms that allow them to interact with customers better, and respond to customer feedback are bound to improve their performance. In the past, the marketplace used to be largely dictated by the fact that businesses told the public what they needed, but we now exist in a consumer-controlled world. The internet was a huge wave of customer empowerment, which was multiplied by the force of social media. This ensured that customer complaints and suggestions could be heard around the world as soon as they were thought of; and now we've arrived at the third era. Mark my words, feedback is going to separate businesses more and more in the next few years, because no one is going to turn away from a brand that designs their product and service offerings in direct response to something that customers suggested 3 hours ago.
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