One of my influencer’s, Rita McGrath, posted an article this week on LinkedIn about customer surveys.
I commented on it. Then I used the new LinkedIn feature to share it as an attachment to a post of my comment.
There’s more than one brilliant nugget in Rita’s article. I highly recommend you read it. Including great advice on how to frame questions to get better answers. Using context and comparison. Rather than the standard would you recommend us on a scale of 1-10?
The point I want to talk more about here – and the one I commented on – is about the customers that answer these surveys in the middle. A segment that Rita referenced as the zone of indifference.
Maybe it’s that I’m an optimist. I believe these indifferent customers are a segment with a lot of opportunity. Opportunity to capitalize on or opportunity to lose.
I liken it to what Warren Buffet speaks on as his key to successful investment. He analyzes stocks to find the ones with unrealized value. One’s with market prices lower than other markers of the company indicate. Those are the companies he invests in and helps them to develop that value. With share prices ultimately going up. Making lots of money over the years for him and the other investors in his fund.
I believe these indifferent customers can be turned into raving fans. They are already committed to the company. They might just not be quite there. Yet.
But instead, a lot of people who use survey questions with scales are looking for the outlier instead. Many people raise a flag of alarm if anyone answers 3 or under. And reach out to all of them, to uncover the problem. Which can uncover real problems in the business. But not at the expense of reaching out to the customers in the middle segment.
I’ve seen companies impact the bottom line when they throw a lot of resources at squeaky wheels while not investing the same in developing the full business potential of the committed customers.
Of course, as always, the caveat is that “it depends” on your business. If 80% of responses are less than 3, then you do have something to explore further. Potentially real problems to resolve. If on the other hand 80% of the responses are indifferent, then they shouldn’t be ignored either. It’s showing there is a segment of people that need further nurturing.
Which is why it’s important to take a step back and look at the full picture from time to time. Consider your survey goals. Consider the overall responses.
Not just leave the follow-up to occur when an automated flag kicks in for a one-off.
Do you agree?
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