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Customers Can Help You

Savvy entrepreneurs know that customer feedback can directly translate into real competitive advantage and boost bottom line growth in revenues and profits. Well established companies all across the world, too, are inviting customers to help them: create better, more meaningful and motivating advertising & marketing communications and to design and actually develop new products that subsequently sell faster.

In this new era of ‚consumer generated media‚ and with the explosion of ‚online communities‚ consumers are increasingly willing and able to provide vital intelligence to companies. Online communities of solvers, luminaries and ‚ lead-users‚ that are now being engaged by companies ‚ communities who can anticipate and create new solutions and products that the general market place has not yet been able to articulate a need for. Orange has its ‚ talking point‚ online community. Electrolux runs its ‚ design lab 2006‚ inviting consumers to help address ‚ healthy eating habits. Proctor & Gamble has the ‚ vocal point‚ online community of ‚ moms‚ to help producers take on board and translate better moms views, ideas and requirements into better products and services.


  • Customers can provide vital help at all stages of the entrepreneurial journey. Invite their feedback on:
  • Satisfaction with product/service/company
  • Likelihood to do business again
  • Likelihood to recommend
  • Why the customer is not satisfied/likely to do business again/recommend
  • Awareness and usage of competitors
  • Satisfaction/likely to do business again/recommend competitor and why
  • How did they learn about your business?
  • Have they purchased from your competitors?
  • How do you rate against your competitors? -worse, same, better and why
  • How often do they purchase from you?
  • Do they purchase across your entire range?
  • Could they purchase more from you?
  • Would they be interested to learn more about your products and services?
  • What’s the best way to communicate to them?
  • What are your strengths and limitations?
  • How likely they would be to refer you?
  • Have they referred you in the past?

There is no substitute way of measuring customer satisfaction than asking the customers directly for the evaluation criteria that they use in measuring what is important to them. Avoid measuring what the business thinks is important to the customer. You must first ascertain from customers what their key assessment criteria are and then measure how the business performs on those criteria.

A questionnaire is the most common technique for such measurement and its content/areas of survey should be co-developed with customers.

Keep it short and easy to complete. It should not be ambiguous and the customer should spend no more than fifteen minutes doing it. Cover no more than ten to fifteen parameters in the questionnaire, ones that are most important to the customer.
Include key questions such as:

  • Would you buy again?
  • Would you buy our other products?
  • Would you recommend it to a friend?
  • How can we serve you better? (Open ended)

Questionnaires can be done regularly by mail, with a 10‚ 15 per cent response rate, by telephone and in specially convened customer focus group, clinics and panels. Using a third party is best and will solicit more feedback from the customers.

Include former customers to get their perspectives (on leaving) and non-customers to get knowledge of your competitors.

On an ongoing basis, create a facility or process for your staff with frequent customer contact (in sales, service and accounts) to capture open-ended feedback. This can help inform on new areas of customer satisfaction enquiry.
Use a five-point scale:
1= very dissatisfied
2= dissatisfied
3= neutral
4= satisfied
5= very satisfied

Be cautioned that the 5s are the only group not likely to defect. Adding the 4s and 5s together is not the general measure of overall customer satisfaction.

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