Why research matters Customer experience | Steve Bax | 21 October 2011


I recently spent a long weekend in a hired VW campervan – no sniggering at the back of the room please!

Yes it was wet and cold! I did wonder what an earth I was doing!

To the point though.
The hire company – who shall remain nameless – had a key selling point in all of their publicity material. ie their website, brochure, specific mention in the booking confirmation letter etc… This was that they provided a ‘tea-time hamper’ to all those hiring their vans which would include a homemade cake ‘as featured on GMTV’.

First of all, the hamper did not contain a homemade cake. It did contain 3 glass jars containing instant coffee, damp sugar and tea bags together with a bottle of apple juice. This hamper was a rectangular wicker basket as you might expect to get your Christmas selection from Fortnum and Masons in! You get a picture of size and substance I am sure.

Ok – but what is the point. Poor delivery of a USP? No.

The key point is that although this may sound very appealing on a warm summer’s evening it is simply silly in a small confined living space such as found in a classic VW camper or small boat. You cannot put a large wicker hamper away anywhere! It gets moved from one end of the van to the other and back again causing considerable annoyance and using up valuable space!

So… I spoke to the company owners who saw their hamper and cake as a key offering to their customers and were mortified that the cake had not been delivered. I accepted their apology but pointed out that their key feature was actually not a great idea in a campervan which appeared to be a revelation to them.

The point is we need to find out from our customers what they think about our service and our products. It is not enough to wait until someone like me makes the effort to provide unasked for feedback on this and other issues.

What we think as an organisation is our special selling point may be no more than an annoyance or worse.

It doesn’t have to cost the earth, but we need to do our research. It will pay dividends in the long run.