How Customer Research Yields Gold for Marketers

Peggy-LawlessToday's post is a guest post by Peggy Lawless from Lawless Research LLC

Your business is sitting on a gold mine of information waiting to be extracted. Your customers are the gold mine. They can tell you how to keep them happy and grow your business, but you need to ask them. An economical and elegant way to gather customer insights is through an online survey.

But not just any survey will do. A poorly designed survey will annoy your customers and result in bad data. A well designed survey builds rapport with your customer base and provides good data such as: Why did they select you? Why do they stay with you and not leave you for a competitor? What do they need to increase their sense of loyalty?

What is an effective survey?

An effective survey is respectful, interesting and relevant, and understandable. Show respect by inviting your customers to give feedback, making the survey as brief as possible, and thanking them for their time. Capture their attention with questions that are thought-provoking, questions that relate to their lives and are posed in their language. Make it feel like a conversation where you’re doing all the listening. Draw them effortlessly through the survey with questions that are clearly written. If they don’t understand the questions, you won’t be able to make sense of their answers. Ensure that you offer comprehensive response choices, including options for “Don’t know” and “Not applicable” when necessary. The goal is to create an experience in which your customers enjoy taking the survey and appreciate you for soliciting their opinions.

Now for the gold

Use the information you gather through a finely crafted survey to guide your business strategies and grow your business.

  1. Identify the drivers of customer satisfaction. Find out how you can maximize loyalty and increase customer referrals. For example, a survey of plastic surgery patients may reveal that they are twice as likely to recommend a practice to a friend or family member if the surgeon is unhurried during the initial consultation.
  2. Profile your customers to help identify prospects. Get to know your customers in-depth. Where did they learn about your business (e.g., from a friend, on a blog, through a professional publication)? What factors (including emotional reactions) influenced their selection? What do they value about your service or product? What do they think differentiates you from your competition? Use this three-dimensional view of your customers to find new customers and speak to them in terms they’ll notice and respond to.
  3. Test new product ideas. Determine how likely your customers would purchase a new product offering. Quantify what features are most important and estimate what price would yield the greatest return. Identify what your customers perceive as the proposed products’ greatest benefits. A survey of a software company’s customers may show that the engineering department’s idea has merit, but some features are unnecessary and other critical features are missing.
  4. Segment your customer base. Are you marketing to all of your customers in the same way with the same messaging? A survey can reveal significant differences in what motivates different groups of your customers.
  5. Attract visitors to your site and keep your customers’ interest. Use what you learn from customer surveys to develop fresh original content for your Web site, email campaigns, and social media marketing.

Your business can benefit from the valuable information that customer research uncovers. The gold is just waiting for you to discover it.

Peggy Lawless is the Principal of Lawless Research, a market research and thought leadership research company. You can connect with her on LinkedIn at

Topics: Persona Marketing