Friday, May 14, 2010

Collegiate approach to research a clear trend

I've had three marketing / research companies push stuff through the letterbox in the last month offering me - or at least the company I work for - the chance to cough up some dough to participate in industry-wide research projects.

I think pitching into a research 'pool' with competitor businesses isn't a bad idea. I have been doing annual tracking of customer satisfaction for the past few years and I have to say, done in isolation, I'm often left wondering what it all means in terms of our competitive position.

This especially occurs in a low engagement business like retirement savings. I mean, if we didn't have mandatory contributions and big tax breaks on it in Australia, who'd be in superannuation? We'd all just stash our cash where we could get hold of it when everyday matters took priority over saving for the future.

The thing about tracking customer satisfaction on your own, is that you get an absolute score, whether NPS or other. But for better or worse, you don't know how that tracks against your competitors. Sure, there's plenty of secondary research around, but direct comparison is rendered useless by methodology that is not 100% aligned across surveys.

The best you get in annual surveys is a trend line for your business. This is useful for setting and rewarding against organisational KPIs, but a 5% annual improvement off a low base is deceptive if your competitors are achieving an annual 6% off a higher base.

This collegiate approach to independent research, where you have the opportunity to include your own customers assessed as a subset of a broader survey is precisely what's needed in order to gain meaningful insight into your competitive position in the marketplace.

Congratulations to the various companies who are taking this approach. When the time is right for us, I will be participating.

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