Anytime we send out a survey, we are opening ourselves up to criticism. Both consumer and B2B market researchers can find themselves in the crosshairs of angry or unsatisfied consumers. But it is in this maelstrom we can find the nuggets so sought after in consumer insights research, if we are willing to put our egos aside.
Case in point: I recently launched a survey to estimate demand in the upcoming fourth quarter. I was blessed with over 2,350 completes and some great structured and unstructured responses to review for my survey data analysis. However the best part, for me personally, was not in the survey data, but in the communication flow around it.
Anytime you release a large survey, in this case it was to over 75,000 potential respondents, you have to expect a fair amount of ‘out of office’ emails. The automatic replies averaged out to about 3% of the total invitations sent. Within this stream, however, were several emails from customers and prospects asking for information on training. Over 40 leads were sent to the sales teams. As marketing researchers it is not often we get to wear the lead generation hat.
Also to be found in this stream was highly valuable input from dissatisfied customers. Fortunately this was not a large percentage, but when someone is unhappy with your product or service and is willing to tell you it is a good day. These emails went to the customer care team to see if appropriate action could be taken to rescue the customer relationship.
Several participants chose not to complete the survey, but replied via email stating their training expectations. This was not expected. In my reporting I had to account for this group.
In summary, with survey projects there is often valuable information and potential sales to be found outside the completed responses. If your mission is to listen to the voice of the customer and act upon what you are hearing then do not ignore this stream of unstructured data.
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