You've been working hard, and you know you're giving customers a better service than last year, but still your satisfaction scores are slipping and you're losing customers. What's going on?
Maybe your competitors know something you don't.
Customer experience research often acts as if relationships with customers are formed in a vacuum. The reality is that customer loyalty and satisfaction are based on your performance not just against their needs, but compared to the performance of others.
The only way to get a complete picture of how you are seen by customers and prospects is to conduct a competitor survey to understand where you sit.
It can be a sobering experience, but it's an invaluable one.
You can learn a lot by asking your own customers about competitors. This is often a good place to start, and it's where many companies stop.
If you do the same, chances are you're flattering yourself.
You only get a truly accurate picture by going out to the entire market (existing customers and competitor's customers), with an anonymous survey.
Sometimes a web survey will work, but more often we would use telephone interviews.
The details will vary depending on the nature of your market, but we would aim to get a representative sample of customers scoring you and and your main competitors.
Why do it?
Is customer satisfaction important? Maybe you don't think it is.
It's not a fluffy, nice to have, add-on. It sits at the heart of a loyalty strategy, a long-term vision of success grounded in meeting the needs of customers better than anyone else.
The alternative is commoditisation.
Are your customers satisfied? Great. So are everyone else's. Are they more satisfied than your competitors'? Now we're talking.
A competitor survey is the only way to get an accurate picture of where you stand in the market, in terms of customer experience. How many of your customers are vulnerable? Which ones? How many prospects are likely to be receptive to your messages? Which ones?
A competitor survey is not something you run every month, but it is an essential part of drawing up a serious long-term loyalty marketing strategy.
What will I get?
A customer satisfaction survey tells you what you need to do to make your existing customers happy and loyal.
A competitor survey tells you how well you're doing compared to competitors, and what you need to do to lock in your existing customers, attract customers from the competition, and maximise share of spend.
Learning from lost customers and prospects
Our client is a business services provider, serving organisations in a range of sectors from manufacturing to retail and leisure. It's a fragmented market with 2 big national players, and a lot of regional and local suppliers.
Their customer satisfaction survey was giving them valuable insight, but it was when we spoke to their lapsed customers that they found out how they were really seen by customers that had been lured away, and that picture was very different.
Now they have reversed the trend, and their new customer survey reveals the competitive strengths that have lured customers away from other suppliers.