Talking to your customers is great. It’s an easy and quick way to get bits of feedback on your product or service. Asking for feedback shows you care and will keep customers engaged. Plus, there are so many ways to talk to your customers, be it in-store while they are shopping for your products, engaging in your service, or exploring your offer on your website or social media platforms. However, talking to a few of your customers isn’t the same as conducting a survey of a broader population and may not be the best way to grow your business. Read on to learn about what a market survey can provide, and when it may be needed in addition to your customer feedback.
Again, listening to your customers is great. Amazon & Google reviews have a rating scale with comments to add colour; encouraging your customer-facing team to record comments & questions lets you see how clients are interacting with your offer; and social media platforms like YouTube allow you to tally up “likes” vs. “dislikes”. However, customer feedback methods like these come with some biases:
Extreme customers: We often hear from those that had a terrible experience or those that had an amazing experience, because they are the most motivated to speak up. But what about those that didn’t have a stand-out experience? How much of your potential customer base does that represent?
Natural fit: Especially when your business is not as mature, your offer may naturally attract a certain type of customer (like someone who lives near a store, or those with a certain hair type for a beauty product).
Reserved honesty: We’re not accusing anyone of lying…but customers may not unleash all their negative opinions on someone they know to be an employee or owner of a company, out of kindness. But you likely want to get the full picture!
Another major reason why surveys may be needed to complement your customer feedback is the size and makeup of the group you want to hear from:
Sample size: A survey is a very easy way to ask the same questions to a very large sample.
General Population: A survey allows you to create a sample pool that is reflective of a general population including those who are not your current customers.
“But talking to my customers in-store or on social media costs me nothing, so why pay for a market research survey?”
This is a great question, and we at market research agency Callosum Marketing wouldn’t always advise investing in customer research for every business decision. But before you invest large amounts in a strategy, product, or advertisement, the price tag of a survey can certainly save you a lot in the long-term. It might be worth asking yourself these questions:
Do I have enough information from a large enough group to know what demographic & psychographic groups my offer is meant for? -> Investing in a survey to answer this question may save you a large amount by targeting your marketing efforts to a much smaller, but more important group to you.
Do I need a quick gut-check from a statistically sound sample before an investment? -> Before spending a large amount for a finalized version of an advertisement or product, why not get input from a sizeable sample, when the cost of the survey will be a fraction of your total investment. You may find out something that goes against your assumptions!
Would it be beneficial to run more advanced analytics on customers’ responses to my questions? -> A classic example here is a MaxDiff Analysis. When talking to customers in your store, you could ask which of a few attributes are most important to your buyers. Alternatively, you could also conduct a survey and ask this same question to hundreds of respondents, rotating in a much larger list of attributes, and conduct this MaxDiff analysis to obtain a large, quantified and relative score for each attribute in terms of how important it is for your audience.
To sum it all up – surveys aren’t the only way to hear from your target audience, but they provide different answers than you’ll get from customer feedback channels, and can be used for different purposes. Surveys are a cost-effective way to talk to a large group, hear from a new audience, and conduct advanced analytics on responses. If you’re looking to research a new market; test a product, service, or advertisement; or take a deeper dive into who your customers are and what they think, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find a survey methodology that suits your consumer insights needs and budget.