Research Resolutions for 2016
by Katie Goodell
What can you do to ensure you make the most of your company’s customer research efforts this year? Here are a few reminders!
1. Keep your lists updated. Having an outdated customer list is one of the first things that can put the success of any research project at risk. Consider how your customer contact list is built. Are CSRs asking for updated phone and email records during customer interactions? If you are a communication services provider, like many of Pivot’s clients, don’t assume your customers are using their ISP-issued email addresses or the landline phone numbers you provide them as their primary means of contact. Make sure you get those cell numbers and those most-used email addresses (which may be hosted at Gmail, Yahoo, or somewhere else). Make a list and check it often.
2. Initiate a feedback loop. If your company is truly focused on providing the best products and services for your customers, you’ll make it a priority to learn about the opinions and behaviors of those customers. Whether you start leaving comment cards after site visits, start up a call back program, or provide an online forum with invitations to leave feedback: give your customers regular opportunities to tell you what they’re thinking. If you don’t proactively research your customers, you’re likely to hear from only those with really big complaints or really big compliments – missing a really big group of people in the middle.
3. Plan for an annual survey. The best survey projects we work on are planned ahead for months, are not rushed, and are taking no one by surprise. Drop hints that you’ll be conducting a survey months ahead of time. Build suspense and interest, just like you would for an advertising campaign. Doing an annual survey is also a great way to measure growth and change over time. It can be helpful and encouraging to see data compared to the same time last year, which makes for more interesting and usable findings for your entire team.
4. Keep data at your fingertips and ready to share. Don’t let your research projects happen in a vacuum, where only one or two contacts at your company review and analyze the data and then file away the report without distributing the findings more broadly. This won’t be valuable to the company as a whole. Instead, share those findings in meetings or on a company intranet so others can benefit from the overall themes and discoveries of the survey. Also keep the final report or most important statistics from your research projects in an easy-to-see place. These numbers can be great to reference throughout the year and help bolster your team’s efforts of customer-focused service.
5. Set goals. Research findings will be more interesting and more applicable if you already have some goals in mind that you’re aiming to meet. Keep the SMART goal model in mind when you set goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.