Customer databases are an extremely helpful resource. Here we give you 10 tips for researching your customers…
Customer databases are an extremely helpful resource, allowing insight into why customers behave as they do.
They enable you to understand why certain people exhibit certain behaviours – which would be harder to find out any other way.
However, when undertaking research on a client database, there are ten things you must remember;
1. Check that you have the consent to contact people for research purposes
Without this, you could get into trouble under the data protection act. You must also reveal where you got their details if requested.
2. You cannot offer your product as an incentive for taking part
Often forgotten. However, under the market research code of conduct, you cannot offer your product as an incentive or a prize for taking part.
This is seen as “selling” under the guise of research. You’re also biasing your research towards those who feel more warmly towards your brand.
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3. Write a friendly invite in the style of the brand
This will show the invite is genuine and increase your response rates.
Within the invite remember to be clear about the purpose of the research, the closing date for respondents, who will administer the incentive and give people the options to unsubscribe and reply.
4. Send out the invites in batches
With response rates ranging from 0.01% (an invite sent within a newsletter) to 10% (an email invite sent to loyal customers), it’s is difficult to know how many people will take part. Sending out invites in batches gives you more control of the final sample size, avoid over-researching your database and not getting enough people to look at the results.
5. Think about including sample from a third party panel provider
Adding this allows you to compare the behavior and attitudes of your customer base with those of the general population, those in your target market and sometimes customers of your competitors. It also helps to identify if there is some in-built bias in your respondents.
6. Allow people to define their own behaviour
If you try and force people into a pre-defined behavioural segment their answers might not make sense.
Let people answer as they want and then look at the data to try to understand the reason for the difference.
We found that people who identified themselves as one-time users were, in fact, multi-time users. They had simply signed-up multiple times as the incentive to joining was too generous!
7. Be careful who you screen out and why
You may only be interested in people within a certain age range or social grade. However, if customers are rejected from taking part they may be offended and think less of your brand. It’s far better to let everyone answer and then remove them from your dataset later if you need to.
8. Give the respondent the opportunity to vent
A person’s motivations for taking part in a survey do not always coincide with what you are trying to find out.
We’ve had instances where we are trying to understand how customers use the client’s product. They, on the other hand, just want to talk about their experience as a customer.
So give them the opportunity to answer naturally – and vent if it’s called for – before moving on to the matter you want to find out about.
9. On a big survey, make sure customer service know
Do your client’s customer service desk know about what you’re up to. If not, make sure they do. They may receive calls checking the survey is legitimate, complaining or from those who say they’re not able to access it on the device they are using.
10. Maintain the anonymity of participants
Occasionally, participants want a specific comment passed on and attributed to them (ie: if they have got a very specific issue).
But on the whole, it’s not our duty to directly attribute comments to people unless they have given their informed consent – no matter how nicely you are asked to!
We hope you find this guide useful – let us know if you have any additional tips you like us to add.