Do surveys make excellent marketing tools? Sometime in 2002, Paul M. Dholakia and Vicki G. Morwitz published an article called “How Surveys Influence Customers” in the Harvard Business Review.
Here, the writers narrated a field experiment they conducted among 2,000+ customers. These people were part of a customer relationship program of a financial services business in the United States.
They called 945 randomly selected participants and surveyed them for 10 to 12 minutes. The questions revolved around their satisfaction with the features of the products the company offered and their overall satisfaction with the business’s service.
The rest served as control and didn’t go through any survey. However, both groups didn’t receive any marketing material from the company.
The team then monitored their consumer behavior for a full year. They then learned that the surveyed group was over three times more likely to interact with the products like opening accounts.
They were also more profitable for the business. They even continued to provide business for the company throughout the year at a faster rate. Meanwhile, those in the control group were more likely to defect or leave the company.
Why Asking Customers Matter
The writers believed that the short survey they conducted significantly played a role in positive consumer behavior. One of the reasons is awareness.
According to them, surveyed participants learned more about the company’s products, which encouraged them to make future purchases.
But the bigger explanation might be the customers’ sentiment for appreciation and recognition. Being surveyed affirmed their need to be “coddled.” And if they rated the company highly satisfactory before the call, then the survey only boosted it.
PricewaterhouseCoopers also shared the same belief on the importance of surveys and customer feedback. The professional services company said that these marketing tools strengthen consumer connection with the business. They feel heard.
3 Tips Not to Fail in Asking Feedback
The research above is just one of the many studies that show the power of asking consumer feedback, particularly through surveys. Any business can surely benefit from the data it provides.
But one needs to heed caution. When done wrongly, surveys can backfire or not meet their objectives. How can companies avoid this? Here are three tips:
1. Make Surveys Convenient
While consumers like to answer surveys or questions, they don’t want to be bothered by lengthy ones. They also don’t want to be overwhelmed by a lot of requests.
In other words, the business needs to make their marketing research convenient. Fortunately, they can already rely on questionnaire software that can perform plenty of tasks on their behalf.
It can generate questions and send them to customer e-mails so they can answer them when they’re ready. The system then collates the information and presents it in a more understandable format for its users.
2. Reinforce Positive Emotions
In their article, Dholakia and Morwitz warned that surveys could also work against the business. For one, just as it could reinforce positive emotions, it could also strengthen negative opinions. It could then translate to lower profits and reduced purchases.
The connection between consumer behavior and emotions has long been studied, and the link can be intense. Therefore, companies can benefit from creating surveys or building questions that help promote positive emotions in customers.
What if the survey lands on a dissatisfied consumer? It can still end on a positive note. For example, the feedback form can include an area where the person can leave suggestions.
3. Maximize the Data
Surveys are only as good as how a company utilizes the collected data. How they use them depends on the goal. Are they planning to measure their customer acquisition? Would they like to create a more suitable loyalty program? Do they want to implement change based on consumer feedback?
Marketing isn’t a one-way street anymore. In fact, it is more advantageous for businesses to keep consumers involved in their innovation or growth, and surveys can help them achieve this goal.
However, they need to understand and use this tool properly to truly connect with their market and meet their objectives.