September 29th, 2009 by Jared Bothwell
Customer satisfaction surveys tend to dominate thinking when it comes to surveying customers. Yet, there are plenty of other ways to gain insights into your customer base by asking a few quick questions. ‘Why won?’, ‘Why lost?’ and ‘Why missed?’ surveys are just one example. And if you don’t have any customers they are also quite useful for dating.
‘Why won?’, ‘Why lost?’ and ‘Why missed?’ surveys are a series of customer insight surveys that are practically guaranteed to give you the information and insights that any business requires in order to retain existing customers, win back old customers and win new business.
I first came across ‘Why won?’, ‘Why lost?’ and ‘Why missed?’ surveys in my first job as a market researcher when I was straight out of university. I was immediately stuck by the simplicity of the concept but like most things often it is the simple ideas that are the best (excluding factor and conjoint analysis).
Gaining a new client may mean the popping of champagne corks and a flurry if high fives all around the office.
Often little thought is put to why you may have been successful in winning the new client. A ‘Why won?’ survey seeks to answer this important question. The key reason for doing a Why won” survey is that the information gleaned can be valuable in winning other new clients .
The underlying assumption being that if newly won customer liked feature A, then it is likely that other prospects may like feature A too. This could lead to greater promotion and emphasis being made of feature A and consequently more new customers.
The timing of a Why won? survey is important. It is best to leave some time between the customer coming on board and asking the new customer to complete the survey. Off course this depends on the type of interaction you may have with the customer but six weeks is a good rule of thumb.
While it is not quite as simple as “Hey Bob, Why won?”, but there isn’t too much more to it than that.
The main objective of the survey is to identify the key factors why your new customer decided to go with you and not your competition. If you have left it for six weeks you can also use the opportunity to see how your new customers are settling in. This can identify any early teething problems and enable you to stop your new customer becoming a lost customer.
The methodology of your survey deployment depends on a number of factors. The value of the new account comes into play along with how you will continue to communicate with your new customer. For higher value accounts I like the idea of a personalised telephone call. The call can play an integral part in the induction process of the new customer.
The person who makes the call should ideally be a neutral individual who has no role in the management of the account. In most circumstances it is ideal to use a market researcher to undertake the interview. Off course, the researcher can be calling from your organisation. The value in using an independent interviewer is that you are more likely to receive more candid and there fore more valuable information.
Online surveys can also be used instead of telephone interviews. I would be reluctant to use online surveys for high value accounts though. Responce rates are likely to be low and they will do little to strengthen the relationship or make your new customer feel welcome.
Losing customers or clients is a drain on any business and often the temptation is to simply make excuses on why customers leave without capturing any data on the key reasons why they have decided to cease doing business with your organsation.
This is the purpose of the ‘Why lost?’ survey. Questions tend to focus on the key reasons why the client has made the decision to leave. It can also be useful to ask if there is anything you could do to win there business back. Often there isn’t but if there is you really want to know.
The methodology to use is similar to the why won surveys. The key factor is really the value of the account. Spitting out an online survey to a million dollar client will justify their decision. You just don’t care. A telephone survey would be more suitable.
Often the hardest thing with ‘Why Lost?’ surveys is actually knowing when you have lost a client. It is human nature to avoid conflict so if you client can just slip off in the dark – they will. In some industries it is fairly obvious that your customer is leaving e.g. “Hi, I want to cancel my subscription”.
Often an enormous amount of resources and energy can go into pitching for new business and unless your operating in a monopoly it is likely that you will come across business defeat in a competitive pitch.
While it is tempting in these situations to just put it down to a “numbers game” and move on if you want to learn from your defeats it is critical that you take the time to find out why your pitch was unsuccessful.
Methodlogy and process should work the same as the ‘Why won?’ and ‘Why lost” surveys.
With all these surveys it is essential that the data is collected in a useful and meaningful manner. It is of no value if you have various forms floating around the office.
While the data collected is incredibly useful to make quick improvements and gains to your business processes it is the longitudinal data that provides fantastic insights into how your business is tracking over time.
‘Why won?’, ‘Why lost?’ and ‘Why missed?’ surveys will also provide you with a goldmine of competitive intelligence. This data should be tagged appropriately as it enables a complete profile of your competitors activity to constantly developed. There is no need to engage in covert espionage when you have a wealth of knowledge lurking within your customers.