What customers are really saying about your business

If you really want to find out what your customers are saying about your business you need to get out and do some market research. The best way to find out what people really think is to ask. Market research is vital if you are looking to release a new product onto the market. It is equally important though for companies looking to keep up with market trends or even maintain customer loyalty.

There are several ways in which companies can go about this. All of them take varying degrees of time and money to set up. If you have your own in-house marketing team then this might be something that they can be tasked with. If not then you might want to outsource. Many companies go the outsourcing route even if they do have a marketing department. The reason for this is that using a third party is often a more impartial method of conducting research. Market research agencies do not have a pre-determined opinion of your product or service and so any results that they generally tend to be more valuable.

The five most generally accepted methods of conducting research are to…

Conduct a survey

Whenever you mention the word ‘survey’ two distinct and equally annoying images spring to mind. There is the door to door canvassers, the people that only ever knock when you are on the phone or in the bath. Then there is the online survey. Online surveys usually materialise on your computer screen every 10 minutes, more if you are at University.

Door to door

Door to door market researchers or canvassers generally works for one of the big market research companies such as Ipsos MORI or YouGov. There are though smaller companies and charities that conduct market research around the country. Much of what they do is centred around health and politics. However, they do consumer research as well.

Online surveys

Online surveys are more consumer-focused and generally specific to a particular company whose site you happen to be viewing at the time. Usually, this takes the form of a pop-up request to answer a few questions when you exit the website. They frequently offer some sort of inducement to complete. Survey Monkey or Typeform are two of the most popular survey solutions.

If you already have an established client database then a simple questionnaire sent out via email or post is a good option for soliciting feedback. You are much more likely to get a response from existing clients than you are if the survey is speculative. 30-40% for an internal survey as opposed to 10-15% if it is external. If your database is large enough this will be plenty of data from which to analyse key indicators.

Hold a Focus group

Focus groups involve getting either existing customers or a general x-section of the public who fall into your target market, to sit around a table and discuss your company or your products. Most usually this form of survey is based around one particular product. Focus groups are particularly useful for testing peoples response to a new or soon to be released product or service.

Make it personal

If you want to make it personal, get on the phone. OK, so I know that cold calling is less personal than inviting people to attend a focus group or calling on the public at their home, but this is generally only something that should be done when they have freely given you their contact details. Telephone surveys should only ever be considered for existing customers.

Just a little observation

Sales are also a good source of customer feedback. If your new product line is not performing as projected then there is a reason for that. What action should you take? Other forms of observation involve online forums, bloggers and social media. Retail store owners might even send someone to one of their outlets to observe or talk to customers.

Get out in the Field

Visit any shopping centre in any high street in any town in England and you will almost certainly come across someone conducting market research. Of all the survey types available this is the one with probably the lowest response rate. Yet, every time you visit the shops there they are. The reason for this is that the response rate may be low but the footfall is massive. For marketers, shopping centres are gold. A constant steady stream of consumers that come directly to you with virtually no effort required on your part.

Big Deal Promotions specialise in conducting market research for small and medium-sized businesses and iGaming companies.

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