How to Make Customer Opinion Even More Valuable
Ever see those commercials involving websites offering paid surveys? How such commercials will tell the viewer that “companies value customer opinion” and, as such, are willing to pay for it? It's actually somewhat true, as most anyone who's run a business knows, if the customers aren't happy, said customers aren't buying. But there are ways to take that customer opinion and make it even more valuable to a business' normal operations, as a recent study from Business 2 Community noted, and much of it comes down to simply a matter of how it is used.
The first thing to do is to do the best job possible of keeping bias out of the equation. Whether this involves a careful internal effort to ferret out bias and remove it from materials involved in gathering feedback, or having an impartial third party handle market research tasks altogether, the key point is to get the purest possible customer feedback so that it can be used fully. Any amount of bias that gets into the system will inherently taint the results, and though the business would love to get the survey and study results that tell it exactly the kind of things it wants to hear as a business, in the long run such a measure does more harm than good.
Second, bear in mind there's a limit to how far a business should take the opinions of the customer. While customers' opinions are an excellent representation of what issues customers throughout the ecosystem are facing, such opinions are only a representation at the end, and that's all such things can ever really be. Customer opinion should mold a business' decisions, not represent the entirety of corporate planning; the risk here is that the focus group or the like that's providing the opinion is actually a comparative minority. Consider the idea that Apple, for example, might stage a focus group with the handful of people who think Apple should stick to Macintosh products. Would that mean an end of iPhones? What would that loss do to Apple? A remote possibility, yes, but a possibility nonetheless.
Finally, hear everything the customers are saying, not just the things that are easy or fun to hear. Take the good with the bad, and use everything to shape the future of the company. Don't just look at customer responses in a tame focus group environment or the like; take a look at what's being said on Facebook, what's being said in online forums, what's being said in webcomics or the like. The more unsolicited opinion that can be used, the better; it's the most likely to be closest to the truth, and that's what businesses need most in the end, the truest picture of what customers think. Call recording offers a great potential as far as this goes; analyzing the calls that come in are unsolicited opinion at its best, and makes for a great starting point from which to work. We have videos on this and many other fields available at this link.
Customer opinion is what drives a business. A favorable opinion can make it profitable. An unfavorable opinion can close it under the right conditions, or open the field for competitors. But being ready to respond to conditions on the ground is a vital skill for any company, and having the truth on a business' side can open up a whole new field of possibilities.
Edited by Maurice Nagle