Action Reports Provide Useful Information

Many businesses run customer satisfaction surveys that give respondents the opportunity to forego their anonymity and request that the sponsoring company contact them. Each of these requests is sent immediately to the company as an action report for timely follow-up.

These reports include critical bits of information that are a vital but oftentimes overlooked aspect of any customer satisfaction study. Along with giving companies an opportunity to salvage the relationship with the customer, action reports reveal gaps in customer service that may not be covered in the scope of the survey. When looked at over time, action reports also can reveal larger trends in customer satisfaction and provide a valuable barometer for management.�

Action reports capitalize on a secondary benefit of marketing research: convincing survey respondents who are also customers that their feedback is valued. It is also a chance to reinforce a positive brand image in the minds of respondents.

Failure of organizations to respond quickly to action reports means that a chance to turn around a negative situation has been missed, and the respondent/customer may be more dissatisfied than before and become a negative advocate of the brand. While CASRO (Council of American Survey Research Organizations) does not specify any guidelines for how marketing research organizations should handle action reports, the highly sensitive nature of this information means that the surveying company should be expected to forward this information to their clients as soon as possible, typically within 24 hours.

Organizations should receive these reports daily while their study is in the field. Oftentimes, new procedures and process flows must be implemented in order to manage action reports. Companies are frequently surprised at the number of customers whose issues were thought to have been resolved, but in the customer�s mind, have not been.

The urgent nature of action reports means that companies must respond quickly to resolve the situation with the customer. Having been told they would hear from the company, the customer expects a prompt response. If they don�t get one, their complaints will only be magnified.

Beyond a failure to respond promptly to action reports, another mistake that sponsoring companies can make is to fail to examine the data as a whole. Savvier companies realize that action reports, when properly coded and trended over time, can be a powerful source of information for management. They can create a useful window into the minds of customers by allowing management to see what issues make customers the most vocal.

A firm could find that product delivery, which may have received high scores by the majority of respondents in the customer survey, is at the same time the single most common reason customers are vocally dissatisfied in the action reports. Likewise, a company also could find that instances of customer frustration with billing issues increase during the last week of the month when customers� bills are typically paid, and adjust staff accordingly.

Marketing research provides companies with valuable insight into drivers of customer satisfaction, and action reports should not be overlooked as another key source of that information.

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