What do your customers think of you
A special guest blog by Wendy Price
Some of you may say, “I already know what they think.” Others of you might say, “I’ll just ask my sales people and account managers to find out.” While others might say, “they are my customers, they must like us.”
But, do you truly know what your customers think of you? Having sales people and account managers ask is a good thought since you recognize the value of feedback, but will you truly find out what they are thinking?
Sales people and account managers want to avoid negative feedback and might selectively hear only the positive. Besides, do you really want sales people spending their time asking for feedback when they could be making more sales?
Having an objective research professional conduct the research will benefit your company. We are not talking about doing a lengthy survey with a series of grids and rating questions. Instead, we are talking about conducting in-depth interviews, in-person or by telephone to get below the surface.
Why hire a professional researcher?
- Objectivity. The professional is objective, with no vested interest in hearing only the good, and no preconceived ideas. Researchers are trained to “read between the lines” for weaknesses or problems to identify areas that will drive business improvements.
- Focus on Priorities. A researcher will focus on what’s most important to your customer and/or identify their priorities. Ultimately, it’s better to deliver on the customers’ key priorities than to worry about the less important areas.
- Openness. The researcher will manage the interview in a way that makes the customers comfortable discussing issues and problems that they otherwise would not share. Customers often feel that the salesperson or account manager can’t be bothered or aren't able to do anything with their feedback.
- Vested. Engaging professional research signals to your customers that the company is vested in their feedback. A company willing to hire someone to collect opinions must be serious. They must intend to act on the information! They care about me.
- Confidentiality. The customer may want particular comments to remain anonymous or to be combined with others’ responses, something the researcher can readily do. There is no need to know who said what, unless the customer wants to be identified.
- Depth. In-depth interviews allow the researcher to probe responses for meaning and intent. The researcher will clarify responses, ask for specific examples, and take the time to delve deeply beneath the surface.
- Feedback on Sales Person or Account Manager. Lastly, the researcher also can explore your customers' attitudes toward their sales person or account manager and how the relationship could improve.
Providing customers with an opportunity to share their thoughts will ultimately encourage them to come back to you, to talk about you favorably with others, and lead to solid relationships and more business.
Wendy Price, President of WHP Research, Inc. is a qualitative and quantitative researcher with more than 25 years of experience. She is a certified focus group moderator and has extensive experience conducting in-depth interviewing projects. Wendy has a Masters of Marketing Research (MMR) degree from the University of Georgia. Contact Wendy
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