Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Are You Really Listening To Your Customers?

When I left a Cosi restaurant the other day, I carried more than just a T.B.M. sandwich out the door. The receipt in my hand would save me $2 off my next meal — and give me the chance to win $1,000 or an iPod — if I filled out an online customer survey. In contrast, when I visited a Subway restaurant a few days later, my receipt noted only the company’s Web site address and the words “for more info.” Can you guess which receipt inspired me to go online and which one ended up in the trash?

It’s clear which of these two companies is trying harder to engage its customers. And even though this high-noon showdown took place between two restaurant chains, it nonetheless raises a critical question for retailers: Do you effectively leverage online surveys to learn more about your customers and their needs? If not, don’t be surprised if your competitors do — or if they use that information to better target your customers.

On our website, I write about how retailers are increasingly turning to online surveys powered by enterprise feedback management (EFM) software and services. EFM systems make it easier for retailers to manage the online survey process, and enable them to receive continuous, real-time, location-level feedback from their customers.

The analysis can then be used to measure customer satisfaction levels, gauge interest in new products, and predict buying trends, among other tangible benefits. “Retailers are trying to get faster trend-spotting information and quicker response time to customers,” said Jim Martin, founder and CEO of Inquisite, an EFM software and service provider, recently told me.

Are you asking your customers about their experiences with your company?


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