Understanding the many to predict the few12-Jul-2016
No matter what your own views on customer feedback are, the power customer is here! The rise of sites like tripadvisor, foursquare and ratedpeople have led customers to expect to be able to give feedback on their experience and take into consideration the experience of others when selecting their next purchase.
From insignificant purchases like an Uber ride for a few pounds, to big ticket purchases like holidays, giving feedback has become the norm.
So much so that 155 new reviews are now posted on tripadvisor every minute. And these reviews represent every perception from the ecstatic to the horrified – a large hotel such as the Bellagio in Las Vegas could be sitting on upwards of 19,000 reviews with more being added every day.
Customers value the facility to give feedback and, in sufficient numbers, trust the views of others. In fact research on tripadvisor has shown that the quantity of reviews is actually more important to a user than the actual rating given. Savvy holiday makers know that when it comes to making good planning decisions, it’s numbers that count.
It is now the norm for hoteliers to actively encourage guests to leave reviews to ensure they get a balanced selection of guests rather than just those who have a point to make.
The same should be true for event organisers: actively seek feedback – don’t just listen to the door knockers.
If you are looking to capture the kind of feedback you can rely on when developing your event strategy, it’s critical that you proactively seek out feedback. If you base your views on the minority, whether they are a single delegate, or your biggest exhibitor clients, you risk making changes to your event strategy that do not benefit the quiet majority of your customers.
For example we recently gathered feedback from attendees at an awards ceremony. Survey response rates were high and overall feedback was positive about the ceremony. Meanwhile the awards director received an email from an esteemed guest to say it was “the worst” awards ceremony he had ever attended, criticising everything from the food to the presenter.
Without having conducted a wide-ranging survey, capturing the views of a cross-section of the guests, the awards director would not be able to view the feedback of the disgruntled guest in context. They could have ripped the event apart and gone down a completely different route, without ever knowing that the ceremony in its current format had pleased almost every other guest.
Unless the value of the business of that one client outweighed every other customer and potential customer put together, re-formatting the event to cater to just to their whims would have been a bad business decision. The squeakiest wheel should not always get the oil.
That’s not to say that the stinging feedback from a key client is unimportant; just that if you gather feedback in a structured, pro-active way, from a large number of your customers, you can be certain that you are not just acting on the opinion of one person who was having a bad day (or didn’t like their pudding).
It’s a criticism sometimes levied at online surveys that they only capture the most extreme points of view – those who loved or hated what was offered. But is it even valid to suggest that people are only motivated to fill in online surveys if they’ve got something really good or really bad to say? Do surveys miss the views of the “average” attendee?
Using trade show attendees who completed post-show surveys, from the database of almost a million survey responses collected by Explori in the last 24 months, we examined the response to the question: how likely are you to recommend the event to a colleague / friend, to find the Net Promoter Scores (NPS). This question functions well as an overall indicator of how an individual perceived an event.
NPS response is divided into three categories:
- Those who give scores of 0-6 out of 10 are classed as detractors
- Scores of 7-8 are passives or neutral
- Scores of 9-10 are promoters
In our sample, 31% fell in the detractor camp, 33% in the promoter band and 36% in the neutral or passive band.
So there was certainly a large group of people with middle ground views who had chosen to give feedback. With over a third of respondents sitting happily in the neutral camp, (with scores of 7 and 8) and another 18% “a little underwhelmed” with scores of 5 or 6, this group is much more sizable than both the “lovers” or the “haters”. When it comes to post-show feedback surveys, “Average Jo” is quite happy to give her opinion.
With online survey software getting increasingly sophisticated at delivering large cohorts of responders (Explori typically achieves one in four-five depending on the geography) results can be understood in a scientific and granular way to reveal the views of your customers by almost any criteria you choose. But the point remains that there isn’t a better way of predicting the behaviour of any single human, or event, for that matter, than to understand the views of the many.