What is the Value of a Third Party in Research?

In a previous post, we talked about why companies should not do their own company research. It’s very difficult if you don’t know what you’re doing.

But what if you do know how to do it? Can you do it then?

Still no.

The axiom about not mixing business and friendship actually can play a bit of a role when discussing customer surveys and detailed satisfaction questions. For the most part, no one likes to deliver critical news or less than a glowing report when confronted by a person or company providing a product or service…with one caveat: if a customer has a terrible interaction with a company or service, often they are chomping at the bit to tell the tragic tale and get compensation.

But when we’re talking about general surveys and customer satisfaction, it’s hard to get a customer to be completely honest either because he is kind of apathetic about it all or because of the relationship between that customer and the contact at the company. We don’t want to burn bridges or hurt feelings. Then there’s the potential for negative consequences if the feedback we give causes anger or anxiety for those we’re giving it to.

Here’s a scenario…let’s say you’re at your doctor’s office, and the doctor asks you how you think the staff is doing and if there are any issues you have. In your head you’re thinking…that phlebotomist is horrible, she’s sloppy and has a majorly bad attitude.

If you tell the doctor these things, you know at some point you’re going to need to get some blood drawn. If she finds out it’s you who initiated her “performance improvement plan,” then it’s pretty safe to say you won’t be looking very forward to having her stick a needle in your arm. She might, but for entirely different reasons than before.

So whether based on friendship or fear, when a company wants to improve or make changes based on customer feedback, the best thing they can do is use the services of a third-party research company.

The “once-removed” position of a third-party can really help customers be honest about their experience and interactions with a company. It can be that buffer that allows customers to be more honest in giving their feedback and not feel like they have to gloss over or sugarcoat their answers so as not to injure.

And a third-party can protect customers’ or employees’ anonymity and make them comfortable in being completely honest, enabling a company to benefit from no holds barred, open, effectual feedback. And a third-party doesn’t have a dog in the fight. The company has asked them for feedback, and whether it is positive or negative, that intermediary foothold reduces negative emotional backlash and leaves the company with full control, with opened eyes, to get on their path to improvement and increased sales.

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