It pays to split your customers

May 2012

Customer survey segments Customer segmentation is essential before undertaking any form of B2B customer satisfaction survey or customer research. As the findings of the customer research often inform decisions at a strategic level including advertising, marketing and communications, getting a real understanding of your audience demographics at this point is critical for long term brand success.

What is customer segmentation?

Segmentation is a simple methodology that ensures your customer survey is asking the right person, the right questions, using the right methodology.

At its simplest form, customer segmentation is a way of dividing people into sub-groups which share certain characteristics. These might include:

  • total spend with your organisation
  • proportion of a customer's spend with you (share of wallet)
  • frequency of service usage
  • means of purchase, etc.

By segmenting your customers, you will maximise the insight you will gather from them and maximise the business value you will gain from your customer survey project.

Relevance of segmentation to your customer survey

Customer segmentation enables organisations to design and tailor their service offering or product to meet the needs of specific groups. This is because certain sub-groups may have similar behavioural patterns or needs from their service provider.

If discreet groups have not been identified prior to survey design, then your customer questionnaire may fail to provide the right type of answers, or may not relate to your customers very well.

There are different types of information your customer surveys can provide such as comparisons between price, performance or service. You may also be interested to compare your organisation's performance against competitors. Failure to conduct proper customer segmentation may lead to inappropriate comparisons which would provide data of little relevance.

Maximise customer survey effectiveness

Many of Insync Surveys' professional services clients report that over 60% of their revenue comes from just 20% or less of their clients. The next portion of their clients spend significantly less with lower frequency.

Simply, these groups of clients should be treated differently in the survey, analysis and reporting phases of the customer satisfaction survey.

A customer survey segmentation model

Customer survey segment pyramid

Linking the segmentation approach to brand advertising and marketing

Experience tells us that most B2B organisations survey customer satisfaction on an irregular and sometimes ad hoc basis. However, marketing and advertising activities tend to be ongoing.

If ongoing commercial strategies and spend are informed by infrequent, ad hoc and sometimes inconsistent customer survey methodology, it's essential when running your customer survey that you have a clear understanding of which group of customers you are speaking to and what you want to know.

Using online customer surveys for the masses

An online customer survey can be deployed to all of your customers. This is the most common form of customer survey that we run with excellent results. It is important that we still segment the client base prior to deciding to use an online survey as the customer base is still the key point to consider.

Case study: A motor company recently chose to launch their customer satisfaction survey in paper form. They understood from grouping the demographics of their customers that they would be more likely to open and respond to mailed customer surveys with a charitable incentive for completion, than access an online customer survey.

This worked very well in terms of completion rates by reaching their key customer group with a survey method they were comfortable and familiar with. An online customer survey would not have been the most effective method in this case.

Telephone surveys for your "top" customers

Telephone interviews may be the most appropriate way to contact your "top" customers who make up the top 20% of spenders. This can be a cost effective method for securing a high rate of customer survey participation. Similarly, telephone interviews may be appropriate for audiences including:

  • lapsed customers
  • customers for whom you have a specific question, or
  • to dig deeper and validate your customer feedback

In depth interviews to gain insight post-customer survey

In depth interviews are a good way to gain deeper insights or to flesh out hypotheses prior to or post a large-scale customer survey.

Case study: A property specialist recently asked Insync Surveys to conduct six interviews with representative individuals from their segmented group of top 50 clients.

The findings helped to explain some of the online customer survey results, particularly with regard to predictions of future spending behaviour and brand advocacy. Furthermore, they also provided clear and specific insights into actions the organisation could take to better service these clients and position themselves as the supplier of choice every time, not just in some circumstances.

How Insync Surveys can help

Insync Surveys works closely with clients to understand their customer segmentation and customer survey requirements. We have strategies to conduct customer research with different segments of customers while still providing a comprehensive overall picture of results.

For more information about segmenting your customers please contact us.

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