I recently had my Internet connection upgraded at home. The technician was there for roughly 20 minutes, in which time frame he installed the Coax connection.
Less than half an hour after his visit, I received a text message asking me to rate my experience. I was kind of baffled by the question, as I wasn’t sure whether I was supposed to rate the way he rang my door bell, or the way he entered my home, or how he way he sat quietly in the corner of my living room doing his job. Because that’s what he did – his job. I wasn’t sure how to respond to the survey, as I didn’t see how my experience could have been improved. I was indifferent. Or to put it differently, I guess my experience lived up to my minimum expectations. The minimum expectation being that I had a working Internet connection once the technician had left.
What is the purpose of post purchase surveys?
Post purchase surveys are here to stay. The trend seems to be to seek out feedback from the existing customer base and ask for feedback on some part of their experience. However, there are some inherent problems with performing these surveys.
Firstly, I guess the real issue is to understand what the core purpose of post purchase surveys is. If it’s to understand and improve the customer experience of the existing customers, then it’s obviously a great idea to shoot someone an email containing a survey with a few questions.
However, the surveyor should be aware that by segmenting their visitors in this way, they exclude an important segment, who’s voice is important.
Shoe store example
Imagine that you are the proud owner of a shoe store. Within one hour, three potential customers enter your store. Two of them purchase a pair of shoes each. The third leaves without buying anything. This is not an unlikely scenario, as research shows that one in three customers leave a retail store empty handedly.
Now, if you had to choose between which one of the three you would like feedback from, which one would you pick? Well, if you’re the type of business owner or a store manager who wants your shoe store to grow through improved customer experience, then you know that you would have to pick the non-purchaser, right? The customers who already made a purchase has, by their actions, already proven that what you had to offer was enough to convince them to purchase.
Sure, by asking about her experience you can fine-tune the customer experience. But if these surveys are supposed to help understand customer experiences, then why only settle for the purchasing customer base?
Post purchase surveys surely serve a purpose, but for it to make sense, you should ask everybody, not only the ones who purchase.
Choosing convenience over curiosity
There are several reasons why many businesses within the service and retail industry use post-purchase surveys. The practical reasons include: Customer contact data is readily available and hence it’s easy to send off an email.
Secondly, if data about the purchase itself is available then the survey response is further enriched by this data. This makes it an important data set for further analysis.
Finally, the feedback that you receive from people who chose to do business with you, is already segmented. That means that you are probably going to get feedback that resonates well with the self image that you have created for yourself. In other words: This is the kind of feedback that will contribute to sustaining status quo.
Focus on the non-purchasers and learn more
On the other hand, obtaining feedback from non-purchasers is tricky. Contact details may not be available, which means that you have to rely on a pull strategy to attract your responders. Data about the purchase isn’t available, and the feedback could potentially be more difficult to work with.
So why go for the non-purchasers? Well, I would argue that it’s because the feedback that you least want to hear (and let’s face it, the people who didn’t purchase are probably inclined to criticize something in your store) is often the feedback that you learn the most from.
However, being open to receiving that kind of feedback isn’t for everyone. It depends on what kind of feedback culture that exists in the organization and that’s an entirely different blog post!
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