This post is a guest post by Topher Lee
Let me just start by saying that if more e-commerce companies were smart enough to regularly use customer surveys… very few would go out of business. It may seem elementary, but customer satisfaction is always key. If a company does not care enough to reach out to their customers to decide what areas need improvement, they don’t deserve to stay in business. Sounds harsh, but competition is fierce and only well-informed, responsive businesses stand a chance to survive.
In today’s competitive climate, where customers are watching each and every dollar they spend, no company can afford to be out of touch with their customer base. I know you would probably argue that surveys aren’t the only way for companies to keep their finger on the buyer’s pulse. I would argue that where internet based businesses are concerned; it is by far the easiest. Their customers are already online, so asking them to take a survey or provide them with feedback about a poor (or great) customer service experience is easy to facilitate. And as far as internet based companies go, I would say it’s a valuable marketing tool, and should be considered for all marketing research initiatives. Customers are loyal to a point, but will eventually stray to a competitor if they aren’t satisfied. This goes for both the product as well as the service. By using customer surveys on a regular basis, a company becomes capable of assessing and initiating quick market adjustments that may be needed.
I’m sure we are all aware that most customers don’t complain when they aren’t happy. They simply move on to try out a different supplier. If they do complain, in most cases the information doesn’t get all the way up to the management staff. Without surveys, management might as well be working with a blindfold on. Information is power. Without customer input, companies are forced to speculate about how their brand is viewed by their customers. Nowhere is this truer than with e-commerce. With e-commerce, customers interact with the website instead of a sales or service representative. As such, complaints and praise must be handled through a different avenue. This is where a survey comes in to save the day. One of the most important pieces of information provided by customer surveys is often related to personnel complaints. Surveys are an internet based companies eyes and ears. Without them, you may be able to track your customer’s behaviors, but you will still be left to interpret its meaning for yourself.
Surveys provide great customer feedback, but it does not stop there. These same surveys can be used for training employees and aiding in the creation or rejection of new products. Surveys are versatile, and still the greatest source of cheap market research. Sure they aren’t “cutting edge” technology, but they still offer an affordable and speedy path to the pulse of the marketplace. Most successful businesses know that gaining market share is about gaining customers. If you don’t know who you are selling to, how can you know what to sell them?
The other good news about customer surveys is that they can address unusual problems or “outliers”, which would usually escape notice. For instance, if a retail customer walks into the store and cannot find anyone willing to wait on him, that customer would most likely walk out and never come back again. Right? Management would never know about an event like this. The same is true for internet businesses. If customers are dissatisfied, more than likely they won’t seek out a way to let you know. More than likely they will just leave. If a customer survey were available and handy, though, that customer might just take the opportunity to complain. Frustrated customers like to be heard. It may sting a little, but isn’t it better to know so that you can make the necessary adjustments? I believe how a company answers that very question, determines the level of success they are capable of achieving.
Topher Lee is a freelance writer, specializing in call center technology and customer service relations.