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Know Your Survey: Voice of Customer and Market Research

We're thrilled to announce the release of our 2017 NPS® and CX Benchmark Survey, made in collaboration with MIT CISR! In honor of this release, we're launching a series of blog posts, aptly named, "Know Your....",  to promote CX and NPS best practices.

This week it's all about surveys. I’ve seen a lot of companies who have invested in capturing customer feedback, but without any clear purpose of the ACTUAL end goal. And, when no one can tell the CEO why they’re spending X amount of money on customer satisfaction and survey programs, that’s not a good sign.

In this post, I want to chat about two very different types of surveys—Voice of Customer (including NPS®) and market research—how they differ, and why you might choose one over the other based on your survey purpose.

(p.s. If you're interested in taking this year's survey alongside other top brands in your industry, take our anonymous survey here.)

A Purposeful Survey—Questions to Ask Yourself Before Asking a Question

It's one of those stare at the heavens, drop to your knees "Why are we here?" moments. If you're investing in customer feedback and surveying, and from another perspective, asking customers to invest THEIR TIME with you, you better have a darn good reason. So, before you begin any survey campaign, keep the following questions in mind:

  1. What is the goal of your survey? Are you trying to assess brand sentiment, or capture quick customer feedback? Are you looking for deeper information into the market as a whole or overall demand? Not only should your team agree on the goal of your survey, but they should also understand the ultimate pay off for said goal.
  2. How many questions will you ask? Depending on the goal of your survey, this answer will and should differ. We’ll dig deeper into why this is in the next section. For now, here's a good rule of thumb: VoC surveys= short; market research=longer, but to a point.
  3. Who are you surveying?  Are you surveying all of your customers? Customers who performed transactions within the last two months? Depending on the type of survey and the intent, you want to ensure you have a well-thought out list of survey recipients before you send.
  4. How are you reaching your audience?  We often, by default, think of surveys being sent by email, but, truth be told, there are a number of media that companies can take advantage of to conduct their surveys. So, what will yours be? We'll follow up shortly with some data on what media companies typically employ when carrying out their surveys, based on our research.
  5. Do these surveys require follow-up? With NPS surveys, some sort of follow-up should be involved to resolve issues quickly with unhappy customers, as the goal is to retain customers and grow your bottom line.

There are a number of other questions, but these should get you started. If you’d like more information on best practices for conducting your next survey, check out our latest white paper, below.


Voice of Customer Surveys 

Voice of Customer (VoC) surveys are used to continuously take the temperature of customer relationships. These types of surveys should be conducted at least every quarter to ensure that customer issues don’t accumulate and remain unsolved and to stop customers from detracting. VoC and NPS surveys should be short, as they are not trying to “measure everything at once” when it comes to customer relationships, but to get as much feedback as possible with clear answers.

According to our research, VoC (including NPS) surveys improve retention the most when they have 6 questions or less, as shown in the figure below.

survey questions

You want to get as many customers as possible to answer these types of surveys so you can close the loop quickly with detractors and passives and identify promoters.

Market Research Surveys 

Market research surveys can vary quite a bit, but their primary purpose is to investigate specific aspects of the market, such as competitive information, market opportunities, etc. Depending on whether a market research survey is conducted by phone or email, the length of said surveys can differ.

Typical market research phone surveys can go anywhere from 25 to 50 questions. However, online surveys are considerably shorter, with around 10 t0 15 or 20 questions.

For both NPS/VoC and market research surveys, determining your survey media plays an important part. For many companies, email surveys are the most popular media, however, phone and website surveys seem to have the highest retention increase. This makes sense, as email surveys are typically easier to execute than, say, phone surveys.

survey media


When it comes to determining the type of survey you want to send, remember: it all comes down to intent and survey purpose. What are you trying to accomplish with your survey?

The findings from this blog post are based on the results from our latest white paper and data from our 2016 NPS Benchmark Survey. For our 2017 NPS and CX Benchmark Survey, we encourage all to participate so together we can advance best practices in Net Promoter® and customer experience. 

If you'd like to participate in this year's survey, click below! It's anonymous!NPS and CX Benchmark survey

Next Up: HPE Software : Moving NPS® Beyond "Just A Metric" [Interview]

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The Most Comprehensive B2B NPS & CX Benchmarks on the Planet

See how your experience program compares with over 24,000+ NPS & CX data points collected across 12 B2B industries.