I recently requested referees from a company that I was looking to use in the construction field. The owner gave me 3 contacts from recent projects. I phoned each person and had great discussions.
My experience of doing this just reinforced why doing independent research is so important.
Clearly the potential client gave me these names expecting I would hear positive things not things that would put me off using them! Each person I spoke to had issues with their dealings with this company, with one even saying they would never use them again and requested I did not pass this feedback on to the company as they had issues that still needed to be dealt with.
The owner of the company had no idea, why, because he does not do any research, especially research done by an independent company who protects privacy of the interviewee.
They were all very honest with their feedback, which is our constant experience of doing research, people appreciate a company taking time to phone them, not just sending a form that they have to bother to fill in.
“When we phone customers of our clients, we average between 85 and 90% acceptance rate to survey.
Having conversations where you can really clarify the persons feedback is critical, and this is why we don’t do online surveys, because we can’t clarify what they mean.
Whereas on the telephone we ask probing questions e.g. they said they love the customer service – we then ask “Exactly what did you love about the customer service?” or they say “They need to improve their communication”. We then ask a similar probing question.
The secret to great research is often the answer to the second (probing) question.
The questions that must be asked.
Its not just doing the research, its analysing the results to see what the patterns are.
In our case we identify two main areas.
Best Practice Drivers:
We analyse all of the positive comments that drive customers to definitely return and tell other people about you and then group them under their key insight areas e.g. communication, customer service.
We analyse all of the improvement comments from the customers. These are the areas they have said if improved they would rate the business 9 or 10 out of 10 in the future.
Then we look at the patterns between those two areas. See the graph below for a hospitality client.
Food. 57% of the customers surveyed said the food stood out for them, this related to the key insight below taken from all of the comments about food.
Food best practice:
Key Insights: They serve tasty food that is a good portion size, they serve hot food that is up to a good standard, they have food that is consistently good when we dine there, they have meals that are well presented, they serve meals that are well-cooked.
19% of customers surveyed had some complaint about food.
Food improvement driver:
Key Insights: They could offer a larger size of steak, the regular meals are too big for me, they can be a bit hit or miss with the taste of the food, they serve the Parma dry and cold, their food is not as good as it used to be.
24% of customers never mentioned food, it did not stand out to them.
We do this for each of the 8 drivers shown above, so we can easily see what’s working and what’s not working.
This information is what we work on in the workshop. How do we make sure we are replicating the best practice and eliminating the improvement areas, these are often the opposite of each other.
When you do this work, you can confidently provide potential customers with referrals that you know exactly what they think and how they rate you.
In saying this, it does not mean you must hide negatives, but you know about them.
If you would like to have a chat with me about “Why Doing Independent Research Is So Important” contact me I look forward to hearing from you.