Everyone likes to believe that they have a great company and all their clients think they offer a great service and supply exceptional products – but this is a fantasy until it’s backed up by some market research.
Why should I care? Have you heard the one where a negative experience travels faster than a good one! No? – well think about it – how often do you comment to your nearest and dearest, when you have received bad service, or bought products that turn out to be poor quality etc; how often will you start the conversation by telling everyone about your bad experience? By contrast how often do you go out of your way to do the same when everything went well – to be honest it isn’t as good a story is it?
So – What do people think of your company and how do you find out?
Customer Care Surveys take on various forms but provide insights into the way your clients view your company and people. A survey carried out correctly, does not just provide you with ‘a pat on the back’ and ‘could improve here’ school type report; it can also:
- Identify services/products your clients need, but did not know you can provide – time to improve your marketing and get your sales team on the job!
- Identify potential trends in client requirements – acting on these can put you ahead of your competitors.
- Strengthen your brand and finally…
- Strengthen client relationships and promote loyalty – you ask them for feedback and act upon it, they remember your company when looking for the next purchase/ commission, so you are at the top of the list to approach.
Some companies add a short survey to their website – asking you to give them feedback on your experience; it is timely, specific to your visit and will capture your thoughts just when you have taken a look at their website/ ordered something or spoken to an individual, and tells them who supplied the comment.
Other companies are keen to understand how their company performs as a whole – not just in some areas, but covering a range of areas from the quality of products, the helpfulness of staff, ordering and billing, delivery of products and usability of their website. Sometimes these are conducted in house – so the feedback – may not be frank and honest – remember these are your clients and they may not feel comfortable providing negative comments to you or a member of your staff.
Others commission independent market researchers to carry out the research; whilst this may be more expensive it carries the advantage of being completely anonymous, with the clients uninhibited and feeling free to say what they really think. Additionally, the research company will compile the results, work out what everything means and present the report to you, highlighting the areas of concern and the areas where your team are doing well (a huge plus – these reports can take time to collate and present).
Whichever form of survey you use – the key is how you then use the feedback. It is no use looking at comments in isolation, you need to gather and examine all the feedback together to understand what the consensus of opinion is – the good, the bad and the ugly! And then identify the key areas for improvement e.g. training of staff, improvements to your website etc. Decide what you can do/ will have to do to improve for each of area; including working out costs and timelines for implementation and incorporate these into your Business Development Plan. Assign people to take responsibility for taking these plans forward and finally don’t forget to let your clients know when changes occur and why, for example – an email to your clients, an announcement on your website about upcoming changes, let them know the changes have come about as a result of the survey they took time to take part in – thank them – they will appreciate being listened to!
What do your clients think of your company – A step by step guide to finding the answers?
Step 1. Decide what you want to know: List all the areas of your business that have an impact on your client’s e.g. Product availability, quality, price, what you do not stock! deliveries and timeliness; Staff – sales team, accounts team, customer care team; Accounts (billing/ credit, payments etc.); and how you compare to your competitors.
Step 2. Decide how you will conduct the survey, capture and turn this information into a meaningful report – by yourselves, or using a third party, online or telephone/mail.
Step 3. If you decide to use a Market Research team, my advice would be: check out a few (google the company – check out comments from clients) – give them a call and invite them to meet with you and quote for the job.
Any good market research company will want to understand you and your business, before starting any campaign. They will help you devise a questionnaire to cover all the areas you’re interested in and they may suggest some you haven’t thought of. Most importantly they will compile the report and present it to you and your managers with recommendations for areas to improve and identify gaps in your market you should develop.
Step 4. Implement changes for the areas you can improve quickly with little effort for a quick response impact on clients, and include those which will take longer e.g. staff training, upgrading websites, improving ordering processes, sourcing better quality products or new ranges etc., into your Business Development Plans.
Step 5. Inform clients of the changes, remember to let them know you listened to their concerns and are acting upon them. It helps grow confidence in you, and shows you care about their needs. Create that strong partnership – keep your clients loyal.
Step 6. Now you have done this once, do it again annually – remember things are always changing and the next time you run a similar campaign you will be able to compare the results against the previous survey(s).
Did you know TJC has over 20 years of conducting Customer Care Surveys in a range of business’ across the Hospitality, Retail and Manufacturing industries; if you need help please check out our website: https://www.tjcuk.co.uk/services/#marketresearch