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Using Customer Research Panels and Mobile Research to Keep Conversations Alive

Over the past weekend, I took a really interesting communications course.  We were exploring the nature of conversations.  I won’t get into the details, but one concept that really made my light bulb flash was this idea that we treat conversations (the words we say to each other) as if they were physical objects.  And they are not.

Conversations use words – and words are not objects, words are invisible and as soon as you say them,. they disappear.  While objects take up physical space.

Do this experiment — pick up an object – any object; pen, cup, phone — any object will do.  Place it down on the table, then walk away.  Then come back.  Assuming that no one has moved it, it will still be there.  It’s an object – it doesn’t just walk away or disappear on its own.

Now – hold your hand in front of your face and say “Hey all you customers, click on this link, walk through my door and buy something!”

Did you SEE anything come out of your mouth?  Did people suddenly come walking through your door?  NO – because words are invisible.  They are not objects.

So here is the problem — we THINK that when we say something or have a conversation that it’s just going to be there — like that cup.  And guess what?  It isn’t.  We forget.  We forget most conversations in the instant that they come out of our mouths.

This is the reason we forget people’s names so quickly – they are usually SAID in a conversation.  That’s why the best way to remember a name is to attach it to a visual object.  Because we are wired to relate to the world that way.  Just saying a name doesn’t necessarily make it stick.


Until I had this communication session, I only understood that advertising had to be repeated because people didn’t remember it — because I knew that.  I was taught that, I could see that people forgot.  But I didn’t know WHY we forgot.

We don’t forget because we’re stupid, and your customer don’t forget because they aren’t interested — advertising messages are forgotten because they are a communication and part of a conversation — so they just disappear.

Now that you know that — you can really begin to see new and creative ways that you can get your messages across in ways that people will remember.

How This Works in The World of Research

With more complexity and distraction in our lives it stands to reason that we will be PULLED away from the conversations that we are in.   The same is true for our customers and communities.

And the best way to make sure that the engagement with our customers is relevant is to make sure that we engage them as close to the product and service experience as possible.

This is where mobile surveys become so critical.  And this is why they've been such a hot topic of conversation around the mobile research community.

Creating a mobile customer research panel will require some time, effort and organization on your part, but the work will be worth it.  Here are some tips and strategies you can use to build your mobile customer research panel.

  1. Get to know and understand the SurveySwipe application.  This is Survey Analytics mobile research application that is ridiculously easy to use and understand.  Get your feet wet with the Instant Connect option.  You'll get to ask 25 panel members 10 questions.  This will give you an excellent start in understanding how survey panels work.  Your next step will be to create your own customer panel.  If you're selling to small business, you can also become part of the panel (this is our beta test) and a great way to see what it's like to be part of a small business panel.  It's not pretty, but you'll really get a sense for the interaction and information that's available for you.

  2. Create a relevant customer profile.  Profiling your customers in a relevant way is extremely important.  Think of the profile in terms of how you'd like to group, choose or segment people.  Focus on demographic variables  or variables that are relatively constant.  For example, location, brand of computer, etc.  Opinions or elements that might change within a 12 month period are best left for surveys.

  3. Create short 1 - 5 question surveys.  Now you can create short surveys that take less than 30 seconds to complete.  The Survey Analytics platform's ability to use advanced question types and sophisticated branching and looping will make this so much easier than you imagined.

  4. Launch surveys regularly.  Keep conversations alive with your customers and prospects by asking them questions regularly.  Get them used to the fact that it will only take 10-30 seconds to respond, and you will see response rates go through the roof.  Also make sure that you have a digital space where these customers can hang out and have conversations about your products and services -- this could be a blog or you can use IdeaScale .

There are three important concepts to remember;

  1. Conversations that are NOT important to your customer will evaporate over time.

  2. Keeping those conversations engaging and alive is up to YOU.

  3. Survey Analytics has the tools that you can use to manage all of these conversations in one place.


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