Guest blog: How qualitative data can help you look to the future

Written by Anna Lake

There are two data types associated with client/customer feedback, quantitative and qualitative.

Surveys are the most common way of collecting quantitative data and while they have many benefits – they’re quick, cheap and enable you to invite lots of people to give you feedback, they also have limitations. 

Whilst lots of quantitative data enables you to create attractive graphs and charts, you have a narrow opportunity to capture insight from your clients. 

Also: survey fatigue is very real, with people being asked to provide feedback on everything from their broadband supplier to their Dr’s surgery. Therefore, you should keep your feedback surveys short and focused or respondents will quickly lose interest.

If your product or service is high value, or you depend on repeat purchases, perhaps you might consider interviews as a way of collecting insight from clients. 

This form of qualitative data gathering allows you to not only seek feedback on past performance, but also to ask your clients about their forthcoming needs which will make your marketing more targeted and therefore should ensure a stronger return on investment.

What could I ask?

Make sure you ask open questions; they will allow your clients to give highly valuable answers to which you can ask follow-up or clarification questions if needed.

Ask clients what’s on their agenda for the coming 6-12 months, what keeps them up at night, which topics are of most interest, how and where they consume information – for example are they avid social media users or do they prefer more traditional publications. 

If the clients buy one product or service from you, these types of questions are an excellent way of identifying additional opportunities which will deliver organic growth to your business. 

It holds true that it’s much more cost effective to grow through existing clients than focus all your marketing efforts on attracting new ones.

Isn’t this a bit onerous for the client?

Although it might seem like a big ‘ask’ for clients to participate in an interview, most will appreciate the investment you’re making into demonstrating you care about them beyond their contribution to your bottom line.

People are time poor so as with surveys, you need to keep things short, but you will gain much more insight from a 10 minute conversation than a half-completed survey with no verbatim comments.

Can I do this myself?

Absolutely, you should be having these strategic conversations with clients anyway. But ask yourself these questions – will you really be able to make the time to do so? Can you be sure that it’ll be in a way that asks the right questions and creates the circumstances in which they can respond freely? And that you’ll then be able to draw the right conclusions and act strategically on the insights you gain?

A conversation with a neutral third party, expressly designed for the purposes of client listening is often viewed very positively by clients so you might consider outsourcing.

However you decide to collect feedback from your clients, it will always be a valuable activity which can drive process improvements, client loyalty and business growth. 

Bear in mind though, that listening to your clients is about more than just feedback and make sure your data drives the action required to realise the benefits on offer.

Article written by Anna Lake, from Anna Lake Consulting: