You have built up your in-house market research resources. Maybe standardized on a new survey platform. Perhaps hired some more market research staff. That’s great. Now that you have those skills and tools in place, let’s look at a few applications you may not have considered that will hone your competitive edge.
SPARK EMPLOYEE PASSION
It’s hard to be passionate about your employer if you’re not sure that it’s actually doing anything meaningful for its customers. Insights into customers’ needs, attitudes, behaviors, and perceptions can fire up your employees to deliver great service. The more information employees have about customers, the more devoted they will be to meeting needs with excellence. Too often, customer survey results are only shared with the marketing team—but broader distribution of select results can be a powerful employee engagement strategy. [Read more on igniting employee passion by clicking here.]
HEAT UP YOUR SALES FORCE
Quotes from customers about what they like or dislike about your company or its competitors, or about their perceptions of sales processes or customer service, can be very powerful. (Don’t share any negative feedback about an individual in a public setting. Do share kudos.) Letting your salespeople hear new, even shocking things, will sensitize them to client needs. They’ll be less likely to be blinded by their own perceptual filters, more likely to hear the whole story and take action.
But don’t just tell your people what’s going on. Ask them, too.
BUILD THE BUY IN
Have you ever surveyed your employees to find out what companies they admire? What CEOs they think exhibit the best leadership? Which competitors they consider strongest or weakest? How they think your company rates against the competition? Give employees a chance to share their observation and opinions about the business; you’ll harvest great insights and engage them at the same time. Who, after all, knows your company better? They’ll appreciate the opportunity to share their opinions, especially if constructive action is taken in response. But have a plan: if no results are shared and no action taken, employees will feel it was just an empty gesture.
ENGAGE SHAREHOLDERS AND ADVISORS
I’ll bet you can come up with ten questions to ask your shareholders, or your Board. What are their perceptions of your company? How do they feel about the types and frequency of company updates?
This information doesn’t obligate you to act on their every whim. Knowing what they think may be half the battle. If their perceptions are aligned with reality, great. If not, there may be opportunities to close those gaps. Do they think the company is not socially responsible enough? Maybe it is, and you just need to communicate all that you’re doing. Are they overly concerned with its short-term versus long-term prospects? Maybe you need to do some more education about management’s strategic direction.
[Do you have staff that could use some market research training? Check out our online classes; most are under an hour, and all can be viewed conveniently from any web browser.]