Views from the Hills by R. E. Stevens, GENESIS II (The Second Beginning) E-Mail

Customer Satisfaction Research -- Wise Use of Resources?

During the past week, I picked up a market Research magazine.  In it there were four articles on the use of Customer Satisfaction Research.  The articles focused almost totally on the type of analysis that should be utilized.  The methods covered ranged from Top Box Analysis, Top Three Box, Gap Profiling, Scale Analysis, Regression, and the list goes on.  nowhere in any of the articles did they venture into the area of sampling or other executional protocols.  They did not approach who should be interviewed, how they should be interviewed, or when they should be interviewed.

It has been a few years since I was involved in measuring Customer Satisfaction.  When I was involved, I had serious concerns about the value of the research.  Especially in P&G where we were conducting Customer Satisfaction on 150 brands annually.  A lot of money was involved and the data appeared to be the type that could not be acted upon.  Let me give you just one example of my concerns relating to Customer Satisfaction Research.

To be eligible to participate in a Customer Satisfaction study on any brand, you had to have purchased and used the brand within the past three months.  Now ask yourself, who would be the majority of the people eligible to participate?  You are right, it would be people who normally use the brand.  The percent of new users, especially with established brands, would be extremely low.  I don't care what type of analysis or scales you use, the people who usually use a brand will be satisfied with it or they would not be using it on a regular basis.  The result of this type of research showed that the leading brand (and best) brand of laundry detergent received relatively the same satisfaction scores as (what we considered) the poorest laundry detergent brand.

As a replacement for the Customer Satisfaction Research, I would suggest something like the "Negative Brand Share" technique.

What is more actionable, knowing how much our customers like us or why people who tried us decided not to use us again?  Negative Brand Share identifies consumers who have tried your brand and decided there was another brand that fit their needs better.  The technique not only identifies why the consumer switched but what would be required to reverse the switch.

The First Lesson in Creativity:  Learn to dream with your eyes wide open.