Market Research: Perception Versus Reality

It’s often claimed in market research circles that perception is everything. I suspect this stems from the thought that, provided the customer perceives things as being good then that is what matters, be it customer service, product quality, your brand’s image. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a really stupid way of thinking about consumers. Let me explain… In one sense, perceptions are all that customers have to provide in market research. Life isn’t absolute when you’re living it. For example, I’ve been having some lower back ache (too much time spent writing in a bad chair) and have been treating it with a physiotherapist and lots of exercises. Unlocking my lower back has caused other parts of my back to react and the other night I turned over and stretched at night and managed to pull a muscle higher up my back. Now, at the moment, my […]

Customer Satisfaction Measurement: The Myth

Following on from yesterday’s post, fitness expert Daryl Pace asked: That a customer’s answer to a satisfaction survey depends upon the context in which the questions were framed, as well as other possible factors, does seem to make sense. However, if a business did a survey that just asked the question, “are you satisfied overall with the service this business provides you”, it seems that they would get a decent gauge on the general customer sentiment about the business. What do you think? It’s a great question, and I’m happy to tell you what I think as it gets right to the heart of one of my favourite subjects, consumer research. The first thing to say is that, if you were going to ask this question, Daryl’s implicit suggestion that you JUST ask this one question (so as to remove the risk of inadvertent framing) would definitely be the best […]

How to Avoid Upsetting Your Customers

Mostly I think customer service is a matter of common sense; but as we all know common sense can be a surprisingly rare commodity. One of the biggest problems I encounter with customer service people is the procedures they’re shackled to.  Not only are those procedures infuriatingly short-sighted at times, they also tend to have the effect of causing the customer service agent to turn his or her brain off.  A customer service  encounter I experienced today didn’t run into trouble for any of these reasons though.  The person at the (small) company was clearly bright, sensible and not tied to any procedures; it may very well have been her own company. But when I asked when I could expect delivery of a product I’d ordered four weeks ago that they’d told me would be delivered in about four week’s time I was told that, “We’re doing a collection from the manufacturer […]