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Listening | Insight Edge
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Who Are You Again?

Posted by admin on
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October 22, 2012 under Customer Focus | Read the First Comment

A few days ago, I received a call from a market research firm interested in my opinion on a recent shopping experience. In the typical style of a researcher (or telemarketer, for that matter), the caller immediately launched into some boilerplate spiel about the survey and how important my opinions are to the policies of the company.

Well, while the caller was busy trying to assure me of my importance, I was wracking my brain to figure what the survey could be all about. After all, I’m not much of a shopper. Could this be a grocery store calling? Probably not – I typically shop at a neighborhood market, and can’t imagine them contracting a market research survey. A gas station? Hmmm. Probably not.

Always sensitive to the potential of invalidating the results of any survey (something I learned the hard way in school, after having my surveys invalidated), I interrupted the caller to clarify the purpose of the survey. As it turned out, the survey was about shopping experiences in a very specific store – one for which I haven’t crossed the threshold for several years!

After politely indicating to the caller that I couldn’t comment on my experiences, I started reflecting on this call. Think about it – I haven’t set foot in the place in a long time, yet they wanted to know about my experiences. The first thought that came to mind was: What database are they using that’s so old?

Then it occurred to me that they really didn’t want to talk to me, but to a member of my family. That was odd, too, because the person who could actually have answered the questions, hasn’t lived in my home for almost as long. The marketing firm must have been using an old data source.

Now, I’m not disparaging the store from conducting market research; rather, I applaud them for the effort (not many in their industry do similar studies). However, the lesson in this story is that we need to understand who we are talking to when requesting feedback. Are we speaking with people who can really comment on our performance – particularly on recent performance? Or are we using old data to identify respondents, and assuming they can still provide valid feedback?

If we truly want valuable feedback, it is critical to keep customer information current so we know who we’re really listening to, and can glean relevant and recent feedback. Oh – did I mention we need to listen to the feedback, too?