Entries by Fred Van Bennekom

The Importance of Measuring Importance — Correctly — on Customer Surveys

Frequently, when business surveys try to measure importance of various factors the survey generates useless data. Everything gets rated as important, so nothing is important. This article covers methods of measuring importance showing the advantages and disadvantages of each. The key is getting the respondent to think about the trade-offs across the factors.

Agathas in Our Midst (Can Lead to Better Products)

Steven Spielberg’s 2002 movie, Minority Report, starring Tom Cruise, presents a world in which homicides are prevented before they happen. Three precognitives’ visions of near future events allow the Department of Precrime to capture these intended killers. Neat idea. If only we in the business world could spot product quality “crimes” before they occur — rather than reacting to problems once customers use our products. Product designers and product managers are tasked with projecting the future, but is there an organizational equivalent for Agatha, the precog who sometimes saw the future differently from her mates, Arthur and Dashiell? Also published in the April 28, 2003 edition of the Boston Business Journal.

Capturing the Value of Customer Complaints

We usually think that our most valuable customers are ones that buy a lot from us — and that’s true! — but to learn about your business practices your best customers may be the ones that walk away from you. Of course, this value is only recognized — if you capture their feedback! Also published in the November 8, 2002 edition of the Boston Business Journal.

Customer Surveying for Small Business: Why Bother?

Common wisdom is that only large companies need customer-research programs. After all, small companies have their feet on the ground and know what customers are thinking, right? On the surface, that seems a reasonable attitude for small-business managers to take. But ask yourself if there is some percentage of customers defecting to competitors each year for part or all of their purchases. Also printed in the July 26, 2002 print edition of the Boston Business Journal.