Is your research more about you, at the expense of your customer? 

I read a Stuff article recently where retailers are starting to force each online customer into completing a quick survey, for their research, before they finalise the transaction. They believe that ‘most’ customers are happy to do it.

I just want to say, I’ve never heard anyone say they ‘loved’ filling in satisfaction surveys, no matter how short.

They might do them, if faced with no choice. But they’re never going to rave about the experience with their friends & family.

I can hear the conversation now … “I bought x online, oh and it was so great I got to do a survey as well!” OR “I bought x, and then they emailed me a survey, cool!

Clearly, I’m being sarcastic. But if it’s your closing interaction with that customer, is that the last impression you want to leave?

Now don’t get me wrong. Surveys are important, we run many for our clients. But if they don’t drip with WIIFM (What’s In It For Me), those customers you worked really hard to get, will be at best bored, and worst annoyed with you.

You can still get the data AND have them love you.

We can find clues in our personal relationships. Let’s say you meet someone for the first time, and they seem like someone you’d like to get to know better.

You might invite them for a coffee, have a general chat about their hobbies, favourite movies, where they like to go on holiday etc.

What you wouldn’t do is pull out a list of cold questions like – what’s your age? How much do you earn? When was the last time you purchased something online? etc. They’d walk out and block your calls.

But that’s exactly how we treat our audience!

If you missed my first article you can check it out here, were I define your audience as everyone that’s exposed to your message. Be they existing or potential customers.

So, if you get nothing else from this article, stop doing cold, boring one-sided customer research You will never get to understand people’s emotional triggers that way.

I’d like to share an experience …

Recently I received a text from our local pet retail franchise, asking me to do a survey. Given that I’d actually been a partner in a pet store years ago, I was curious.

But I was left frustrated. They didn’t give me options to provide my real thoughts outside of the pre-set check-boxes, and it wasn’t warm or engaging. 

There was nothing “In It For Me”.

The sad thing is that most businesses are only thinking about themselves when they send out a survey. They need answers, or confirmation that they’re doing everything right. They even accept that a percentage of their audience will be unhappy.

Wow, these are your customers. People who have spent money with you and might again. But you treat them like nothing more than a number. Sorry I know I said that before, but I just want that to sink in.

But the good news is, this presents you with a great opportunity! Given that the majority, don’t do this well, means you can get in on the ground floor.

People are sick of not being valued. Instead, treat your customer research project as an exclusive invitation-only event. We’ve even seen it used as part of their entertainment for the evening.

A pet store is a great example of how emotions drive purchases. Pet owners are passionate about their fur babies. They’re members of the family, so their well-being is really important.

So they want the best they can afford. It also tends to be a big part of their leisure, like taking the dog for a walk. The whole experience could be more about fun and made to be an adventure.

The survey did have some positive elements – like a personal invitation from the marketing manager, but that was pretty much the extent of it. In the end, it was basically the same as most surveys I see.

Now let’s try an experiment.

Imagine you are your customer.

You’re just home from a busy day, you need to get dinner on, the family making demands on you from every direction.

Then you receive a text or email from a store you purchased something from last week, asking you to answer some quick questions.

Now let’s increase the odds a bit, and say you really like the store, so you click on the link. 

You’re distracted, but you know if you don’t do it now it won’t happen. So in the middle of yelling at the kids you tick a few boxes.

It may be basically easy, and the questions are simple like “Please rate our service performance on each of the following items”. It was short as they promised, so you run through it quickly, possibly in cruise-mode without pause, click submit and that’s it.

You probably didn’t take time to consider your answers, with no emotional engagement, and opportunity to express what you really think.

So let’s try another scenario. You know your target, she’s a stay-at-home mum with young children. So the best time to catch her with an invitation might be after the school drop-off.

If you have more than one target persona, you might send them at different times, but that’s for another article.

Put Your Empathy On Display

Now for the invitation.

This is really a sales pitch – because you’re trying to get them to help you. So in your cover note demonstrate how you empathise with their life and time-stress.

Something like “It was great to see you in our store last week, and I know how hectic it can be with a young family …

Then continue to make it about them “we try to make your time with us fun & relaxing, but we don’t always get it right. So we can make your experience more enjoyable during your next visit we’d love your feedback, and as thanks, we’ll give you a free coffee” (or whatever works for your business).

OK, this is not going to make everyone open the survey, but those that have the time are already feeling much warmer about their relationship with you.

Stay tuned, because in my next article I’ll show you the key elements to make your actual customer research more engaging.

This article first appeared on the Retail Learning Channel

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