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Deploy Your Frontline For Customer Research | Print |  E-mail

With an over saturation of purchase options, coupled with the fact that consumers today are more sophisticated and educated than they were a few years ago, it imperative that companies are connected at their customer’s hip in terms of understanding their wants, needs and expectations.

Consumers continue to demand much more, are more impulsive and less patient than in the past, and are much more sensitive to disparities in service.  This, among other factors explains why the rate of customer defection is increasing.

A study by MOHR Learning, a New Jersey based consulting firm, found that 20% of customers will immediately walk out of a store when confronted by bad service and 26% will warn their friends and family members not to shop there.

Obtaining Customer Insight:

To succeed today you must become both customer-focused and customer-centered.  Market leaders possess foresight and vision that begins with the customer.  If you’re to achieve your business goals both now and into the future, you must be able to clearly see and anticipate significant trends and shifts in customer behavior, and extract meaning for future business practice.  If you haven’t done so at this point, then you must begin the journey in obtaining superior knowledge on your customer’s needs, wants, and expectations.

You want to determine the type of shopping experience your customer’s desire.  And the type of shopping experiences will vary in direct proportion to the different types of customers you have.  The role of your frontline employees in identifying your customers and effectively interacting with them has become more critical.

Why spend a boat-load of money on some consulting or market research firm to come into your business to communicate with your customers about what they want and don’t want, when you have already made that same type of investment via the labor line on your P&L:  employees!

Companies today need to generate a better return on their employee investment than simply just having them show up for work.  Employees who are at work physically, and simply going through the motions without turning on the greatest computer known to man: the human brain, will prevent you from taking your business to the next level.  After all, the majority of customer contact today is done by someone other than the owner or company management; it’s your frontline employees:

Frontline Customer Research:

Here a few low-cost approaches to get into your customers heads by better utilizing your frontline employees:

1.  Talk To Customers:

No, I’m not trying to be funny, but let me ask you: of all the places you go to spend your money as a customer, how often do employees actually take the time to speak to you in a meaningful way?  And “Thank you have a nice day” doesn’t qualify.  Simple conversation with your customers delivers two powerful outcomes that will benefit your business: 1) improve customer service, and 2) reveal customer insight/data that you can act upon to profitably grow your business.

2. Monthly Surveys:

If your company operates retail stores, a quick, easy, and painless 5-question survey that your customers can complete.  Each month select a different customer buying experience aspect to evaluate: 1) customer service, 2) product selection, 3) store design , 4) appearance and retailing, etc.  Keep in mind the customer WIIFM: What’s In It For Me.  A complimentary low-cost item like a cup of coffee can do the trick.

Now you might be saying to yourself, this is it: talk and monthly surveys?  Doesn’t seem very elaborate and sophisticated now does it?  Of course not, why do you think consultants and market research firms charge so much?  When it comes to the frontline, simple wins every time.  Besides, you’ve already made the investment!

© 2009 Employee Performance Strategies Inc.
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