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2009-03-06: Customer Surveys: A True Science Revealed

 

Psychology has taken a lot of false steps since its origins around the beginning of the 20th century. There is some controversy about the foundations of psychology as a science, but in spite of this, the field of psychology has made some convincing contributions, both practical and theoretical. Among its practical and useful advances is the systematic use of the survey. Today, customer surveys are one of the most salient and common uses of the handy questionnaire.

They are often used by businesses of nearly every kind. After all, what businesses don't rely on customers? Customer surveys are a method of ensuring the satisfaction of your clientele. The real innovation is in the design of the questions and the analysis of the responses. It's easy enough to discover whether or not a client is satisfied. Most of the time, they have plenty of choices in products or services, and choosing to do business with one is a certain indication of satisfaction. The art and science lies in the why: discovering if they are satisfied or not.

Patron's fulfillment is almost always based on a complex of factors. Was the service friendly, prompt, price reasonable, product effective? Did it last a long time? Each product or service usually has a number of specific factors as well. For example, a TV has a certain screen size, a certain resolution, and physical size, or bulkiness. The picture can be more or less vivid, the colors can be true or skewed, the menus and options can be confusing or intuitive. Questionnaires are designed to tease the important factors apart and assess them individually.

This isolation of variables is what makes modern development of them scientific. It's what makes them systematic, and it's what makes them effective and useful. If a company manufactures a great product, but its instruction manual is confusing or misleading, customers could become confused or frustrated, and perhaps even misuse or improperly assemble the product. If this is the case, that company could greatly improve its approval rating very easily and with almost no expense's simply by revising the instruction manual.

Knowledge is power, and in commerce the information of what client's value is some of the most powerful knowledge you can have. Questionnaires can be analyzed with great specificity and accuracy. Modern ones are analyzed using computers and statistics. Again, business has psychology to thank for pioneering this technique. The University of Minnesota devised one of the early and famous examples of modern analysis. The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory was a groundbreaking achievement for the field of psychology, and its practices have been widely adopted by companies employing customer surveys.

The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, or MMPI, is used to objectively assess the personalities of test takers. First, questions are devised. Initially, this is a fairly unscientific process. The questions are then calibrated by compiling data on the answers people give to the tests. People whose personalities have been assessed by professional psychologists are given the test, and computers are used to find patterns linking personality with certain answers.

As it turns out, many such patterns emerged. Psychologists even use certain questions to discover how honest the test taker is being. Customer surveys use the same basic principles of statistical analysis as the MMPI. A set can be analyzed in many ways to discover different things about the test takers and their feelings about products. In this way, a company can isolate the exact areas requiring improvement. Often, companies hire professional designers and analyzers to carry out complex analyses. As you can see, there truly is a science when devising a plan to utilize the helpful qualities in questionnaires.

About the Author

NBRI, for over two decades, has been providing valuable customer surveys support for businesses interested in discovering their customer's feedback. For more information please take the time to visit NBRII.com.

 

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