Direct Selling: Straight to the Source
The reverse side of the bounceback was stamped with a business reply indicia so customers simply could fold the survey and mail it back to the company. The response rate consistently was in the 30 percent range for phone and mail customers, and slightly higher for Internet customers.
2. Who are your customers, and how do they perceive your brand?
An upscale gift and apparel com-pany with catalogs, a Web site and retail stores mailed a four-page questionnaire at about an 18-month frequency. The research went to four customer segments:
• Best—multibuyers (three or more times) who purchased in the last 12 months;
• Good—multibuyers (two or more times) who purchased in the last 12 months;
• First-time—new-to-file buyers who purchased in the last six to 12 months; and
• Lapsed—inactive multibuyers (two or more times) whose last purchase was more than 12 to 18 months ago.
The customer segments were further divided by primary buying channel—catalog, Internet or retail. The survey was mailed First Class to a random sampling of each of the four customer segments whose primary buying channel was catalog or store. Internet buyers were sent the survey by e-mail. Response rates varied by customer affinity to the company. The greater the customers’ affinity, the higher the response rate. Several customer segments responded at nearly 40 percent. Other segments responded at as low as 10 percent. Incentives for completing and returning the survey were used to enhance response. The type of information this survey attempted to track and measure included:
• The competition: How do customers shop—catalog, Internet or retail? What companies are their favorites?
• How does the company stack up against the competition in such areas as: unique, distinctive merchandise; quality of the products; value (price-quality relationship); prompt delivery; ease of returning merchandise; ease and convenience of ordering, via all channels; and accuracy of the order.
• What factors would heighten customers’ interest in repeat ordering?
• Customer demographic information.
• Psychographic questions, such as magazines read, television shows watched, Internet sites visited, etc.