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If we agree that customer satisfaction feedback that is fresh and spontaneous is of more value than delayed or aged feedback, then we can also agree that this feedback is best captured as close as possible to the customer’s experience with the product or service. This brings us then to the necessity of reaching the customer and gathering that “point-of-experience” feedback at each “touchpoint” or encounter the customer has with the company – before, during and after the customer’s experience with the product or service.

This can present some interesting challenges – how do you capture spontaneous customer feedback at the point-of-sale, point-of-service or in the case of healthcare, point-of-care. How do you follow up with the customer after the initial purchase or how do you track the customer’s experiences with repeat purchases. How do you respond in real-time to customer questions, complaints or praise?

We at Opinionmeter have been struggling with these questions for quite some time now – actually for the past 17 years! We are pretty laser-focused on just this conundrum. As you can imagine, the solution requires multiple approaches and capabilities. I’ve listed below a few of the key elements we’ve found critical to capturing real-time spontaneous feedback at the “point-of-experience”. I use the phrase “Point-of-experience” because it encompasses all of the various industry verticals – retail (point of sale), service industry (point of service) and as mentioned above healthcare (point of care).

Onsite as well as Online Surveying: in order to gather feedback while the customer is experiencing your products and services most likely means capturing in-store feedback. The most effective way to do this is through touchscreen survey devices that are strategically placed at key “touchpoints” with the customer experience. These devices can also provide digital signage as well as capture complex survey data, including open-ended comments and branching logic.

Survey Device Independence: finding a feedback management platform with software capable of device independence will help ensure you have the most suitable device for your environment. What screen size or “footprint” is best for your shelf, counter or stand-alone environment? Do you need a stand-along survey kiosk located by an exit or mounted on a table-top? Perhaps you’d like the flexibility of stand-alone as well as mobile survey devices… If your survey vendor is device independent then the hardware choices will follow your requirements and not the other way around!

Offline Data Capture: depending on your customer environment, you may or may not have Internet access. For this reason, finding a survey solution that can record survey data both offline as well as online is very important. Ideally, you want survey software that can do both without missing a beat!

Real-time Survey Data: now that you’re capturing your customer’s feedback while their opinions are fresh and spontaneous, why not respond to them in the same fashion! With customer survey software that has real-time data capabilities, you’ll be able to set up satisfaction alerts that can literally have your store manager’s phone ring as soon as a customer answers a survey that triggers a low-score alert – or whatever alert triggers you’ve built into your survey. You know what they say about an unhappy customer telling 10 of their friends! Now, you can have management intervene with customers before they have a chance to leave the lobby.

Automated Report Delivery: With your real-time survey data streaming in, the next step is to have your customized survey reports delivered on a continuous basis. Be sure to select a survey vendor with robust reporting capabilities. We’ve found our customers find great value in the ability to customize their reports and then save them as templates. These customized report templates can then be scheduled to be delivered throughout the organization at any interval of time and in any format – be it as an Excel, PowerPoint, and Word, PDF or web page format.





Mobile Research will never be the same – thanks to the iPad

Thanks to Apple and the breakthrough of their iPad tablet computer (remember the Newton!), market researchers now have a plethora of device options available to meet their mobile research demands. At last count, there were over 85 different tablets in production – all trying to catch up with the demand awakened by the extreme success of the iPad. From a survey-geek’s perspective I’m ecstatic – not just because the iPad device offers so much (mobility, battery life, screen resolution, multimedia capture, application distribution platform, processing speed, installed base, etc.), but also because it has unleashed an army of engineers from other competing companies focused on trying to improve upon the iPad design. We all will benefit from this massive amount of energy currently focused on achieving the “best” tablet device.

Within our niche – real-time onsite customer feedback – the tablet PC (iPad included) is an ideal survey tool. Just thinking about the form factor alone, it enables us to use the same piece of hardware as mobile survey device for intercept surveying and as a stand along survey kiosk. At any time, we can unlock and remove the iPad from its iPad Kiosk enclosure (where it’s running off AC and in lock-down mode), and continue using the same device as a mobile intercept research tool. The same device; two radically different applications.