By Alan Walker, MD of market leading survey reporting company Teletrack.
With many businesses worrying how the Emergency Budget is going to affect their customers and subsequent sales, it has never been more important to satisfaction levels in both customers and staff so that appropriate internal and external strategies can be applied to keep staff motivated and customers loyal.
Businesses across all sectors are likely to feel the pinch thanks to the new Budget, but I’d say that the retail market is likely to be the most profoundly hit by the Budget as customers become more and more selective with their purchasing decisions and try to work out just how the budget will impact them financially.
Unfortunately in times like this, the ability to move quickly and respond to changing customer needs could make the vital difference between success and failure in what is providing to be a very turbulent time for businesses.
We all understand the importance of customer data in understanding buyer trends and preferences but is the same understanding given to how relevant the data actually is? What I keep noticing time and time again is that retailers (and actually other businesses for that matter) are simply taking too long to implement the changes identified by mystery shops and staff surveys.
This delay means that by the time the information has been fed through and is in a position to help guide future strategy, it is already out of date and so any recommendations made from this information are likely to be inaccurate.
The retail market is changing at such pace that any delay in feeding this information back into the organisation could be having a detrimental effect on the retailer’s customer experience but also on the motivation, morale and wellbeing of their staff, neither of which are good for business when you are trying to come out of a recession.
Coupled with a more cost savvy customer trying to curb excess spending in light of the Budget, the importance of knowing whether you are hitting the right spot with your customers has never been so crucial.
Perhaps one of the biggest steps forward has been the integration of mobile into the proposition. In many cases, it is now possible to collect qualitative, quantitative and textual responses via a personalised Web URL via a mobile, BlackBerry, PDA or PC.
Total integration between mobile, web and telephone has meant that customers have complete discretion over how they prefer to present their information. Is it any wonder that quality and number of responses to multi-channel market research campaigns far exceed those obtained by their limited predecessors?
I’m a real fan of promoting ‘face to face’ customer engagement via portable kiosk style portal’s within stores, public areas and shopping malls. Here consumers are able to give valuable CRM and customer satisfaction information via a specially designed interactive area including an internet touch screen, phone or an SMS medium whereby the data can be returned directly and instantly to the client online and in real-time.
The brand, or its agency, is therefore then in a great position to respond promptly and directly to the customer, often resulting in engaging in a secondary more in-depth discussion with each customer. This is possibly due to the quality of the reports available to each client online which captures the phone number and IP address and includes charts and graphs to measure every question response.
Every organisation has their own definition of customer insight and customer engagement. But not all can deliver versatile and scalable ‘face to face’ activities that give their target audience a quality live experience of a brand. That’s what makes the idea of real time reporting so exciting and so relevant to doing business in today’s ever-complex climate.
It’s no surprise therefore that the demand for real time surveys continues to grow as businesses realise they need to get their hands on the information quickly and start responding to it.
Making tweaks to a live campaign in real time will help ensure the message is on target and will help increase sales.
In such a turbulent economy, the first mover advantage is a key competitive driver and one which can be made possible by utilising real time data. Surprisingly though, it still remains one of the industry’s best-kept secrets.
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