I've spoken in previous posts about the great marketing work done by Harley-Davidson, especially their current push to build a bigger customer base of women riders, and their focus on making the brand experience operational.
Building this kind of insight into your customers is achievable only with consistent dedication to gathering insight. I see evidence all over their marketing of high-quality research, both qualitative and quantitative.
I had hoped to interview someone from Harley's research team, but haven't been able to make that connection. However, I can share with you a small peek at their approach, because I happened to get a pop-up survey on their web site, and was quite impressed with the quality of the questions. [Naturally, I saved a few screen shots]
A look at H-D's pop-up satisfaction survey
The ratings covered these areas:
- accuracy, quality and usefulness of the information on the site
- ability to accomplish the purpose of the visit
- reliability of the site
- whether the site is consistent with the brand image, and whether it creates a positive impression [Everyone should be asking this; most do not]
- whether the site meets your expectations
- how the site compares to your idea of an ideal web site
I need to explain this last one a bit. Sometimes we have low expectations. So meeting our expectations in that case is no big deal. But customer loyalty does not relate not just to satisfaction, or meeting expectations, they also relate to delivering high quality -- and people form this notion of quality quite independent of your specific brand or experience.
There were more questions, but these were the ones that caught my eye. Because if you are just asking overall satisfaction, you are not getting the full picture. You also need to know how well you are doing (on any topic) compared to a standard of excellence that your target customer has formed independently of you.
There was more evidence of sophisticated thinking. For example, a typical list of "why did you visit the website today" has 5 or 6 generic responses. This questionnaire had 22 options! Ranging from "seeking employment" to "getting screensavers". This list itself was undoubtedly based on previous research with site visitors.
It was no surprise to discover that H-D had enlisted the help of research specialists to get to this happy place. The ready availability of inexpensive survey software means we see a lot of weak satisfaction questionnaires. Many of these probably came from a template provided by the hosted software application.
Gathering and using customer insight is like making a pearl
The fact that you see these weak surveys everywhere doesn't mean this is the way to do it. It just means a lot of people won't invest in good information. There isn't a lot of substitute for real expertise, hard thinking and thoughtful testing.
As I have often said to prospective clients, 'You are paying for insight, not for method". However, I digress.
Seeing a sophisticated approach to one small element of the insight equation only confirmed my suspicion that considerable sophistication goes into Harley-Davidson's marketing, including the gathering of customer insight.
It has to. Because that is how you get messaging that is outstanding -- you base it on genuine insight, gathered over years, layered on prior learning, and guarded like the crown jewels. It's like an oyster building a pearl, layer by layer.
I've written about customer satisfaction a few times.