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Today’s technology and traditional market research techniques are being combined and adapted in unexpected ways.

Imagine, for example, getting a follow-up call after being pulled over by a police officer, similar to a phone survey asking how your last visit went at the auto service department.

That’s what the City of Dallas plans to explore—along with the footage recorded by body cameras on police officers—to help keep the peace.

Building trust

As reported, the customer-service survey will not only ask how you were treated by the officer, but also whether the interaction built or eroded trust in the police. The idea is to inject transparency into the system and build trust between citizens and law enforcement.

While using market research techniques in this way offers a new twist on customer care, leveraging technology for consumer research is nothing new. Recordings of phone calls and transcripts of Internet chat sessions, for example, are commonplace. Some companies also use video cameras or monitors to gather information for service improvements.

But, taking a page from the police study, are we who are in the business of serving consumers using all the tools at our disposal to build trust?

What can trust buy you?

Trust is the cornerstone of any strong relationship. In business, it can buy you customer loyalty, which translates to repeat business.

So “selling” trust along with its products is in a company’s best interest.

What is a one-time purchase worth if the customer never comes back—compared to a customer who repeatedly makes purchases because of overall trust in your brand?

It follows that satisfaction surveys and market research would be designed and mined to ensure both.

Popularity contest or relationship building?

Customer-satisfaction surveys have been around for ages. They’ve evolved from a detailed five-page survey completed with a number 2 pencil, for example, to an automated query that often asks only two questions:

1. How would you rate the service provided?

2. Would you refer someone to our business?

In contact center operations, survey data typically is used to take any needed corrective action on the agent side. If the referral score is high, it’s also used for client bragging rights versus competitors.

A critical question is how might this information lead to further investigation and be used to improve service and trust?

Measuring trust

A key factor in whether customers trust you is if they believe you’re looking out for their best interests or not.

For example, is the business really trying to understand their needs before guiding them into purchase decisions? And do agents know the products and services well enough to provide that level of service?

Surveys that don’t account for that miss an opportunity for building trust and leave customers feeling underserved.

Getting at the heart of it

If agent issues are implied by a survey, recordings of phone calls or transcripts of web chats (as with police video footage) can be used to shed more light on customer feedback. Though even these things can be interpreted from different points of view.

It will be interesting to see how the police study gets at the heart of the matter given the unpleasant feelings that linger after being pulled over. And, whether a body camera will add objectivity in studying interactions between police and citizens is not certain since the camera will not capture anything outside its view, including the officer.

In the end, modern-day tools and techniques can lead to enhanced methods for gathering critical information—and to improving service and building trust.

But they are only as good as the thought that goes into using them and the questions being asked.

Building customer trust? It starts here.


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