Are brands making the most of the voice of the customer?

Impressively, Gartner forecasts, Voice of the customer campaigns will see large investments by business over the next five years, with a 30% annual growth in the VOC market.   It’s one thing to collect the data, but a strong VOC strategy will make sure the feedback is scrutinized, it is shared and leveraged throughout the company.  As businesses strive to improve either their products or services, what better way to enable this by acting on customer feedback.

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Planning on How Best to Interview the Next Generation of Survey Participants

With response rate challenges continuing to haunt the industry, we collectively need to start thinking about how to survey the next generation of survey participants. Youth today are very much driven by technology. They are also very used to being entertained and stimulated. Unfortunately, taking a survey isn’t always the most exciting activity one could do with one’s time.

Educating the next generation to the importance of market research is the first step in getting participation. This is a very large initiative and may need the full support of the industry as a whole in terms of marketing and advertising. Schools and universities are probably the best places to start. Something to think about!

There is debate in the industry today

As far as making research fun and exciting, there is debate in the industry today as to the bias “gamifying” surveys creates. I myself have posted before on being aware of the potential traps utilizing technology just because it exists. The participant needs to be thoughtfully providing honest and open responses to questions and not simply enjoy the experience of taking the survey. For this reason, more research needs to be put into investing rather than simply into making surveys games.

New landscapes

There have been a number of new elements added to the survey mix; web/mobile surveying, crowdsourcing, research panels, and market research online communities all provide new sources of data collection participants. Panels lend themselves particularly well to younger respondents due to the fact they are being paid and typically can complete a number of studies quickly and easily using mobile devices (the young person’s trusty side arm!).

Would you like an incentive with that?

Credit: Within Advertising

Credit: Within Advertising

From my experience, the youth today tend to be less motivated and making the surveys easy to get in front of the respondents is going to be key for getting participation. Incentives are also going to play a bigger and bigger role in getting completes.

Last but not least, another consideration is having research topics that are very specifically relevant to the target audience. Having a survey pop up on a teenager’s smart phone as they walk out of McDonald’s on their experience of the meal they just took along with an incentive for a free meal just might do the trick. This employs smart interviewing technologies and expensive incentives but will give the edge on getting the completes needed!

I welcome your thoughts and comments. Do not hesitate to post your thoughts below and I will respond. You can also contact me at

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Demystifying the Governance of Survey Results

Information behaves just like water. It can be captured, stocked and, if left unused, it can evaporate without anyone really noticing…

Information that is collected through research studies on customer behaviour follows the same logic. Once a program measuring client satisfaction and loyalty is implemented, the results are observed but rarely analyzed and even less transformed into concrete action plans (less than 10% of companies conduct sophisticated analyzes based on the results of their surveys – source Marketing Science Institute). As a consequence, the results evaporate instead of circulating effectively throughout the company.

Since 2010, the biggest research suppliers are aware of this situation. “Marketing research firms had practically all reached the same level in their service offers and their clients started to doubt the utility of these studies…” explains Michel Saulnier, researcher and president of the MRIA. As a reaction, integrated information management models have started to emerge. The principle is quite simple. It consists of transforming the satisfaction or loyalty results into action plans. “These action plans, supported by the implementation of rigorous governance, will allow companies to significantly improve the experience and loyalty of their clients”, Saulnier believes.

As we have seen in a previous article (How to Make Survey Results Come Alive in the Company?), it is important to deploy a governance model. This deployment rests on a few essential steps:

  • First, the involvement and support of a senior-level manager in charge of customer loyalty. That strategic involvement from a company’s upper management is critical to allow the establishment of the steps that will lead to effective governance.
  • Second, client-oriented action committees made up of employees are integrated throughout every segment of the company. These committees act as relays, disseminating information, and as sensors focused on clients’ reactions.
  • Once this structure is established, research studies results are disseminated quickly and regularly (monthly is ideal), throughout the company via the above-mentioned structure.

Demystifying the Governance of Survey Results The client-oriented action committees can thus interact immediately based on the received information and rapidly set up action plans to improve client loyalty. “Of course, a rigorous follow-up and updates of the action plans are critical in obtaining results. There is no one right answer.” Michel Saulnier continues, “only rigorous data analysis, and its transformation into action plans, allows us to measure the results obtained after surveying the clients”. This permanent attention, along with the adjustments implemented by the action committees, allows the identification of “winning solutions”. Once an action is deemed effective in reinforcing clients’ satisfaction and loyalty, it is communicated to the entire personnel of the company and implemented. “For a governance structure to really be operational, it is important to involve the company’s front-line employees, through the recognition of their work as well as a financial bonus in exchange for their involvement in the process.”

This new concept of governance of satisfaction or loyalty survey results is a fundamental step in the strategic management of companies. Once it is set up, not only does it allow you to involve all the personnel with the improvement of the company’s quality, it also allows you to be in sync with clients’ demands.

A permanent guarantee of your ability to compete!

How to Make Survey Results Come Alive in the Company?

Mastery of information management has become an essential ingredient in the creation of corporate value. Market research firms and their customers have fully understood the strategic implications ; they are increasingly exploiting survey results, and this will eventually transform business organization and operations.

For example; “In 2010, only 8% of firms regularly using customer satisfaction and loyalty measurement programs actually analyze the data with sophisticated statistical tools…and practically none of them convert the data into action plans, hence the need for follow-up initiatives,” states Michel Saulnier, researcher and president of the Quebec chapter of  the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association (MRIA). In fact these business managers risk missing out on strategic pointers with all the consequences that this might have for their markets.

Yves Masson, Senior Partner of the research firm Saine Marketing considers that “consumers today are much more critical in their shopping choices, consequently satisfaction indicators no longer enable firms to have a clear vision of the loyalty and engagement of their customers.”

Aware of this phenomenon, market research firms are looking to develop new approaches to managing survey results. The aim is to initiate implementation of continuous improvement processes at all operational levels of the firm, and to convert the results of satisfaction surveys into action plans. “Today, organizations are exposed to multichannel communications offering multiple points of contact with their customers; such as retail outlets, call centers, online purchasing sites, social media etc. They must develop a 360 degree vision of the client and incorporate the findings of these studies into their management systems,” believes Yves Masson.

Inclusion of an explicit process within the organization structure to effectively exploit the results of satisfaction surveys should be fundamental; not something left to chance or improvisation. “Awareness of the need for a certain management policy often only arises in a crisis, at a time when management realizes that it does not have the tools to deal with the situation,” Michel Saulnier points out. In this area, the National Bank is a pioneer. In 2007, the new president of the bank, Louis Vachon, introduced a new vision “One client, one bank” that was to transform the customer relationship approach to banking. “Customer expectations are constantly evolving and we must be able to adapt to their needs in real time,”says Dominik Giasson, Senior Director of Research at the National Bank. Four years ago, the National Bank implemented a measure of customer loyalty which is currently evolving. This includes an improved governance process and ensures that customer satisfaction is a priority throughout the entire organization.

To uphold promises made to customers, is governance the ultimate corporate tool?

Large organizations such as Hydro-Quebec are moving in the same direction, and are creating new management models which in the near future will be adopted by most companies. This is a trend which will be interesting to follow closely.

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