…only contact happy customers.
“The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;”
Plutarch’s imagined funeral oration from Mark Anthony (made famous by one W Shakespeare) indicates the biggest barrier to companies undertaking research – the fact that it is predominantly seen as negative.
Despite a refocusing of the idea on continuous improvement, Kaizen etc the assumption is that it is best not to ask customers about their experience as it may lead to blame, change or a general weakness in the company that decimates morale.
In some cases, business “experts” even claim that it is best only to ask happy customers what they thought of their experience as this helps embed good behaviour.
This has to go down with “asking your friends and family” and getting business cards from Vistaprint (in 2011) as some of the worst business advice I have ever come across. How do you improve, assess consistency or the strength of your business if you only look at one dimension of the business.
Put it this way – would your bank base a decision to give you an overdraft based solely on your company’s turnover in a single year?
One of the good things about dealing with business owners is that they inherently understand this and realise that business is not for the faint-hearted.
Modern psychology has indicated that when individuals are processing information such as reading a newspaper they tend to be drawn more to the negative articles but tend to recall the more positive stories over a period of time.
As humans we are hard-wired to look for danger especially in headlines but actually derive more from good news stories.
This is an important point when you are analysing or reporting based on a small sample particularly open ended questions – you will be drawn to the negative and this is important as this gives you an idea of what the big issues are but the value lies in putting these into their wider context and balancing complaints with genuine good performance.
If 90% of your clients feel that you offer good value for money but one person writes a diatribe on how expensive the product or service is, you should not change your pricing structure (unless that one person is your biggest client).
Sometimes you have to accept, as Plato did that
“Even Homer sometimes nods”
If even the greatest author the world has ever seen can make mistakes, then who are we to dwell on occasional mistakes.
We do need to learn from them and if this was the case, you may want to look at how your marketed and sold to that individual though.