Archive for the ‘Service’ Category
ESOMAR recently published the results of its eighth annual Global Prices Study 2010, which evaluates the pricing of different types of market research around the world.
One of the interesting points highlighted by the study – which was conducted among 100 countries – was the huge variety, not only of prices, but also of research methodologies favoured or employed in different geographies. For example, online research is not available in every market; similarly, face-to-face interviewing is not conducted everywhere.
However, one of the most notable findings from the perspective of B2B International, which researches markets worldwide from its offices in the UK, USA and China, was the fact that the USA topped the rankings as the most expensive market globally in which to conduct research.
Matthew Harrison, Director of our New York office, explains why the results of the survey did not come as a surprise to him:
Harrison, however, additionally points to a slightly more unusual contributor to the high prices associated with the US:
These facts aside, Harrison is keen to point out that while the actual price of research in the States may appear on the high side, the return on investment gained from good quality market research should never, ever be underestimated.
After a week of globetrotting, Nick Hague reflects on his experiences to explain how a good questionnaire can be the first step in achieving satisfied – or, even better, delighted – customers.
As I sat at Heathrow Airport on Monday evening waiting for a connecting flight to Athens, I was confronted by a lady wanting to ask me a few quick questions about my experience of T5. My flight had been delayed but the gate was about to been called. However, since it was a ‘short survey’ I said I would help. She asked me the usual questions about shops, eateries, toilets and spaces to sit and relax, but since I wasn’t looking to shop, I had already eaten a sandwich on the previous flight and was on a quick turnaround on my connection, none of the questions were relevant to me. It would have been good if I had chance to freely say that I am always deeply frustrated with the lack of plug sockets near seating areas in airports to allow business travelers to charge their ever-depleting laptop batteries for the forthcoming flights, but this highly structured questionnaire didn’t allow such feedback. I was now being called to the gate and so it won’t surprise you that I rattled my answers off without much thought.
I then boarded the plane for the usual humdrum flight experience in cramped surroundings with little space to stretch out, never mind get some work done! However, on this occasion I was wrong to think this way as one of the air stewards must have seen my discomfort and, once airborne, I was offered the chance to move to one of the exit seats where I would have more room. That was very perceptive I thought! It was now a few hours since I had eaten and I was getting hungry. I predicted that the usual dried out meal would be as exciting as ever and would be washed down by the accustomed cheap wine – nonetheless, it would at least curb the onset of my hunger. Then the second thing that I wasn’t expecting happened – I was given a palatable meal but with the usual cheap plonk. I didn’t complain (it isn’t in the English nature) but my face must have spoken a thousand words. The air steward fittingly came back with a very nice Argentinean red – wow I thought! Now I know in-flight entertainment isn’t anything new but I had flown to Athens before and never had a movie, but as I tucked into my meal it came across the speakers that tonight’s movie would be ‘The Blind Side’. I had just read some good reviews on this movie and so sat back and relaxed to watch it. After 3½ hours I arrived in Athens at 1am and realized that even though I was a little bleary eyed, I had in fact enjoyed my flight!
The next morning when I vacated my hotel and was waiting for my taxi, I was given a feedback form that asked me about my satisfaction with the courteousness of the staff, the speed of check-in, my bed, the temperature of the room, the amenities (pool, bar etc) and breakfast. I noticed that there wasn’t a question about being kept up all night by the traffic outside my window or for the fact that I didn’t have an iron in my room to iron my creased shirt and trousers for my impending meeting. Like at Heathrow, I had to dash off a response as my taxi was waiting – however, I did point out to the receptionist that there was no scope for me to add comment to the form outside of the tick box questions.
That same evening I then boarded my plane home. With vivid memories of my inbound flight I quietly looked forward to my flight back to the UK. However, I should have known better. We boarded with the usual German efficiency (row numbers at a time) and we even set off on time (unlike my flight the previous day), but yes, you guessed it. I had a cramped seat, the meal was a dried sandwich, the wine was like vinegar and there was no movie!
Since there was no movie, it did at least give me time to pen my looming Thursday Night Insight piece. Thinking back over the last couple of days’ events, it hit home to me what the difference was between customer satisfaction, delighting customers and customer loyalty. Was I satisfied with my flight back from Athens; yes, it got me back without crashing and on time. However, was I delighted; no, and if I ever have a choice again I will definitely choose a different airline. My reflective time also allowed me to think back to the surveys I took part in at the airport and the hotel and emphasized the importance of not only asking the right questions but also picking the right time so respondents are in the right frame of mind to answer them properly.
The market research industry is probably its own worst enemy at times and latest thoughts often swing from one extreme to another. Either questionnaires are designed so detailed to get to the heart of what customers think that you run the risk of not surveying the busy but important customer; or with the desire for simplicity becoming worldwide, does a CSI (Customer Satisfaction Index) or NPS (Net Promoter Score) oversimplify things and not actually mean anything other than a number used for internal benchmarking?
All researchers like their lists and so here are my 5 top tips from this week’s experience to take into account when designing a customer satisfaction or customer loyalty project:
To conclude, in designing customer satisfaction and loyalty surveys I think we should all remind ourselves of the words of Albert Einstein “Things should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler” – but remember; it can be the simple things in life that can actually delight your customer.
Find out more about some of the subjects touched in today’s Thursday Night Insight. Read our:
As technology – particularly advances in the capabilities of, and access to, the internet – improves so many of our lives in countless ways, we should not forget that ‘traditional’ means of seeking information and making purchases may still very much have a place.
According to recent research findings from UK-based telecommunications company Invomo, companies which fail to provide telephone interaction risk alienating their customers.
The study of 3,000 adult consumers suggested that nearly 40% of customers insist on making purchases by telephone rather than online, stating that more than a quarter felt more confident when ordering through a call centre and one in five found it more convenient to call than use the internet.
Nick Wiley, CEO of Invomo, said: “Companies that only have a web strategy for servicing orders could be missing out on a significant proportion of business. Making sure customers don’t have to hunt the length and breadth of a web site for a contact number and offering a ‘call me back’ option could be a good start to reduce lost orders. Looking beyond short-term fixes, how many companies’ web and call centre operations are gearing up to customers who want their suppliers to really earn their loyalty and have faith in their own ability to deal with these street wise callers?”
Find out what your customers really think of your company. Do they find it easy to reach you? Can they easily access all the information they need to enable them to make a purchase decision? What makes them choose you over your competitors?
Our customer satisfaction research can help you to ensure you continue to meet their changing needs and increase the likelihood of them buying more from you in the future.
Dr Daniel Park of MASS Consulting Group, a good friend of B2B International, has contributed a Thursday Night Insight this week. It is an article that appeared in the Washington Post on 10 April 2007 and it raises a number of questions. Perhaps the most significant one is not obvious and takes a bit of thinking about. It relates to the concept of quality, which has been a bandwagon topic and a source of easy consultancy money for some time. Benefiting from quality management is two-sided: it requires not only suppliers that are able to deliver quality products, using quality inputs and quality technology but also – and here comes the interesting bit – buyers who have the capability of recognising quality when it is staring them in the face.
Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. A man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about an hour. During that time approximately two- thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried on.
4 minutes later: the violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.
6 minutes: a young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.
10 minutes: a 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent without exception forced the children to move on quickly.
45 minutes: the musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.
1 hour: he finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.
No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played some of the most powerful and beautiful music ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days earlier Joshua Bell sold out a theatre in Boston where the seats averaged $100.
This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities. The questions raised: in a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we understand quality? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?
One conclusion reached from this experiment could be this: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the greatest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made…. how many other things are we missing; do we really understand quality; does quality really matter?
Why not click on the following links to read some of the white papers Dr Daniel Park has written for B2B International:
Click here to view our complete library of white papers.
A fair number of articles that have been published lately slam the current over-use by marketers of the word ‘value’. Critics claim that ‘value’ is at risk of becoming synonymous with ‘reduced’, ‘cut-price’ and plain old ‘cheap’. Value should also be associated with quality. A product that offers true value is more than just an attractive price; it should meet a customer’s real needs, and go that extra mile.
Customers are tending to watch what they spend at present, but if all companies are offering ‘value’ by simply reducing their prices, they will all end up competing on a level playing field.
Look to differentiate your product or service in some way. Offer some evidence and reassurance to your customers that they are buying something that really does offer value for money.
For example, auto manufacturer Hyundai is winning plaudits at the moment for its Hyundai Assurance program. With this program, anyone that buys a new car is guaranteed that if they lose their job, Hyundai will make their payments for 3 months. If they are still facing financial difficulties after that 3-month period, they can return the car (*subject to various conditions, of course – but you get the idea). In this way, the company is acknowledging the current economic climate and the fears of some of its potential customers, and offering them greater benefits and extra value.