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Industry Insights

7 Questions You Should Have Been Asking Your Customers All Along

By Akhila Sriram on February 3, 2022

Customer feedback usually comes at key touchpoints along the customer journey: after a purchase is made, if a return or refund must be processed, after a shipped order arrives, etc. Using these avenues for gathering customer data and sentiment is helpful for businesses looking to understand how customers connect to their business. But businesses need targeted and efficient questions to get good feedback at these touchpoints. That’s where thinking outside of the box comes in handy.

Any customer can mindlessly fill in a five-star scale, to generally rate their experience with a business. Any customer can type some random words in a comment box, asking for “what could we do differently to give you a better customer experience?” But asking startling and thought-provoking questions can really help draw out useful feedback from your customers. And to truly gather effective feedback, you should be asking these and similar questions all along the shopper journey, not just at key experiential points.

  1. What value do you seek from our products?

Rather than asking how customers would rate their experience with a product, digging into their motivation for making a purchase can yield interesting data on how customers make decisions. We use the phrase “finding unmet needs” quite a lot throughout our explanation of what OSG does, but it’s true that a powerful force for customer decisions is meeting a need with a purchase. By accessing information about what that need, or value, is businesses can make better strategic decisions about how to message and position themselves to maintain and build their customer base. If they don’t understand why their customers come to them, they will never understand how they can get other potential shoppers to convert to their brand.

  1. From the time you bought this product, how often do you use the product?

When it comes to consumer goods or even office supplies from B2Bs, it’s important to understand the lifecycle of your product, and how often customers will use the product and come back for more purchases. Does it need refills? Does it wear out? Will customers be replacing a part of or the whole product on a regular basis? But also, it’s important to understand how often the product is on their mind. Is it something they use daily and keep at the forefront of their routine? Is it something that’s only used occasionally and otherwise forgotten until it’s needed?

  1. How well is our product, service, or solution working for you?

Whether it’s a medication or a consumer good, your business needs to understand your customers’ experience of the purchase they made, and what their opinion of it is. By understanding their current and past experience with the specific good or service they purchased, businesses can better predict and understand future needs and purchasing behavior. By gathering data like this across customer segments and across demographic groups, they can understand individual customers as well as larger groups, to better plan for shifts in customer sentiment and need. This way, longer strategies like R&D plans can be informed directly by real-time customer data and feedback. Implementing feedback directly from the customer source goes a long way to building trust with customers and ensuring that you meet their current and future needs, so they stick with your brand for their future purchases.

  1. How is your experience with our business?

Customers usually expect a question like this at the very beginning of a survey. They’re ready to immediately give their initial feedback about their purchase experience, without thinking too deeply about what the purchase meant to them. By posing this question later in a survey, customers are primed by earlier questions to go deeper into their experience and use of the product or service. Triggering them to already think about their usage and sentiment towards the purchase may lead to more effective and detailed feedback building on their earlier answers.

  1. Who else in your business or household uses the product?

Those making purchases are often influenced by more than just their own needs. Understanding who else makes use of a purchased product helps uncover the full range of audiences for your business. From a business supply perspective, an assistant or procurement employee may oversee a purchase, but then everyone at the business may make use of that purchased good. Gathering this data is crucial for understanding current and future audiences for your product and all opportunities for marketing to interested potential customers. An employee may see an advertisement for a product and then refer it to the purchasing party to then convert their business to another brand’s product. And that’s not just one lost customer, that’s a whole business’s worth of customers lost. Every person within that group is an opportunity for conversion to your product and should be treated as such, not just the person making the final decision and purchase.

  1. If you were asked to give up this product to a close friend, would you be willing to do that?

Every business has heard of Net Promoter Score (NPS). It’s the much-touted metric for understanding how deeply customers feel about a product or service that they’ve purchased because they want to recommend it to others. Rather than going to whether a consumer would recommend the product, which is a rather easy decision to make, you should be asking whether they would give up their product to a friend. That gives a true measure of commitment. And calling out a close friend also attaches a certain amount of sentiment to the action. The customer must decide between keeping the product or giving it to someone close to them who would also appreciate it. They’re not only so happy with the product that they would not only recommend it to a close friend, but they would hand theirs over, and ostensibly purchase another for themselves.

  1. If a competitor were to give you the product for half price, would you buy from them and why or why not?

And, finally, the question that every business cares about: how willing would a customer be to abandon our brand to go to another? It’s a tough question to think about, and even tougher to ask because businesses want to be the customers’ obvious choice. Both understanding the factors at play and knowing more about what the tipping point would be for customers is vital for maintaining your customer base, rather than losing it to competitors in the future. What is the cost for their engagement and loyalty to your brand and what factors are helping maintain those forces of customer retention?

Gathering Actionable Customer Data with OSG’s Technology

Gathering data on customers’ future expectations is much more powerful than the data about their past experiences. Asking for feedback about the current and past experiences is good for metrics but shaping strategy requires understanding the future. Our platforms for gathering and analyzing customer data are designed to look to the future for better business decisions and positioning for stable growth. From our genesis in market research, and now to our powerful technology solutions, our approach has always been customer-centric and focused on business growth through understanding customer decision-making. Get in contact with our sales experts today to learn how our technology and analytics can help you ask tough questions and get the customer data you need to build better interventions and strategies for your business.