Our research team have often found that companies spend thousands of pounds on customer and stakeholder surveys but can then struggle to turn feedback data into action and make the changes their business needs.

A common mistake is jumping to conclusions from responses to freeform questions. When you ask open questions like this, it takes time and understanding to digest and make sense of what respondents are saying. Sometimes one single comment can have a disproportionate effect and dominate follow-up action, even though only one person said it. Conversely, we’ve seen companies, faced with many responses on issues that need tackling, focus instead on a handful of positive responses to say all is going well!

“Freeform responses give our clients so much valuable insight from their customers and stakeholders that helps them make the right decisions. Our research team at Accelerator spend time to ensure we understand the context so when it comes to theming feedback, we do it from an informed perspective.” 
- Ann-Marie, Joint Head of Research
Ann-Marie, Joint Head of Research

One way to avoid this is a managed programme of ‘theming’ freeform questions. Theming involves carefully reading responses and taking time to think about what themes or categories the answers could be grouped into. The theming process takes time, but it enables a thorough understanding of the true meaning behind responses.  

For example, in a recent research project for a commercial property client, we themed over 1,800 responses to 12 questions to give a really clear story of what was working and what needed improvement. For a long-standing client in the rail industry, we theme up to 30 question responses from interviews with almost 100 train operators and supply companies to the industry every year.

Once feedback is themed in this way, you are in a good place to turn the resulting insight into action that will make a positive difference for your customers and stakeholders . Look at the themes that emerge from feedback, What story do these themes tell? What do you do well as a business? Where can you improve?

The answers will help you develop an action plan that builds on your strengths and tackles the improvements needed.  As part of your plan, responsibility for action MUST be assigned to individuals, with clear time targets and specific goals. It’s also worth planning to repeat the survey on a regular basis to measure progress.

Key takeaways:

1. Don’t jump to conclusions from a single response.

2. Theme feedback to draw out the real meaning for your business.

3. Build an action plan with clear ownership...and follow it. 

If you would like to have a chat to our joint head of research Ann-Marie about how you can use research to improve customer satisfaction, please send us an email to info@acceleratorsolutions.com

Interested? We'd love to have a chat Get in contact