What Customers Really Want – But Won’t Tell you

Henry Ford once said allegedly: “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have told me a faster horse.”

‘Listen to your customers’: it goes without saying. But are they always telling you everything you need to know to win more customers, more profitably; to run your business most effectively? Probably not, and here’s why.

The customer experience survey is the default tool to find out what customers want. It’s used by almost every retailer, entertainment venue and membership organisation. You can get cheap surveys, free surveys, surveys online. But what is the real value of any of the current methods you might be using now?

The issue is this: are your customers, visitors or members giving you the information youreally need to shape your service, train your staff and evolve your business processes? If that is not happening today, then you might consider it’s time to consider some alternative options.

Here are some of the common pitfalls of customer surveys as used by many organisations:-

  1. You’re asking the wrong questions: or rather, you may not be asking all the questions you should be asking. Perhaps you are unaware of some areas where your team ‘could do better’; so you may not be asking the best questions to identify the key issue(s) and quantify the problem – to then enable you to help your team to do better.
  2. It’s not convenient: you’re asking questions at the wrong time, in the wrong place or in the wrong way. At React, we have a range of survey formats and methodologies to get around this – including in-store and exit surveys, as well as email and on vendor websites – with QR codes (scanned with a smartphone) conveniently printed on brochures or other literature, to direct the customer to the correct portal.
  3. They are not interested in telling you: why bother? Will it really make a difference to their experience next time? Related to the last point, if you ask customers in the right way at the right time, this can certainly help. Your underlying strategy should be this: It’s got to be easy to help you.
  4. They don’t want to tell you: it might not be in their interests – or it might be plain embarrassing. Perhaps they are waiting in the wrong queue or need help and don’t want to feel stupid – who does!

Fundamentally, you need to ask yourself “Am I getting value from my customer surveys?”.

Unfortunately, the answer is probably “No”. A fact clearly demonstrated by the Maritz CX Evolution Global Study, 2015, which reported that 72% of Customer Experience professionals considered that their company’s CX programme was “not very effective”.

There is a way around this; by setting a strategy to complement your surveys which will enable you to find out more precisely where your CX is falling down; so you’re aware of opportunities to get the very best from your staff, systems and processes – your total product and service offering.

And to stop doing those things that irritate your customers/ members/ visitors or otherwise lose you their custom.

At React we use our Mystery Shoppers to provide a complementary ‘Elemental Metric’ to customer surveys – they take a micro view, checking out all the different elements that make up the total customer experience for different touchpoints and different customer mission types.

This year alone, our shoppers have already spent over 10,000 hours visiting shops, clubs, cinemas and other entertainment venues, feeding back on what works and what needs fixing. We’ve asked them to return goods, to complain, to ask for help and request specific items. To do everything that your customers do in the real world – and sometimes a bit more.

We can ask them to monitor what your staff do: who smiles, how quickly or thoroughly they clear a coffee table for your next customer. If they up-sell or cross-sell and how well they do it.

It’s mystery shopping with a difference. It is based on long experience of what to test and how to get outcomes that can be used to benefit the whole organisation, across all your departmental teams. Because CX isn’t one dimensional any more, it has many stakeholders.

For each project, we have to understand the contrasting needs of all the different groups in your organisation – customer experience teams, as well as sales and marketing, HR, security and IT. You may have others.

Too often survey data is used only superficially, just to provide some reassurance that ‘everything’s ok’. But if you are looking at how to attract more visitors more often, or to spend more, then that simply won’t do.

Now some critics say that you can’t use mystery shopping as part of a CX strategy. That there are cheaper ways to obtain feedback, such as via Feefo or Trustpilot. These people are mistaken. I attest that nothing can replace mystery shopping. Because without independent expertise to probe and test your systems and processes, you aren’t going to find out what’s broken. Whether you’re a retailer, club or other entertainment venue.

Intelligent mystery shopping is the future. Join the debate.

If you’d like to find out what a mystery shopping CX programme can do for you – and the options and opportunities for your organisation – simply message me or ask for our 2017 guide to mystery shopping and customer experience. Or see React Surveys.