I am currently working on a product and service combination where there is a hardware component and an online software component. Predictably, our customers are split between those who go on line and those who don’t. Also predictably, we know vastly more about our on-line customers than our off-line customers.
This really came to a head when we were doing customer satisfaction surveys. Almost all respondants are on-line users. But what about the “dark side” – our off line users? Are they happily off line, or did our product become a paperweight?
Of course, there is only one way to find out: interview them by phone. These folks have proved to us that they don’t go on-line to use our software tools, or respond to our emails. They most definitely won’t post anything on a forum or tweet us their thoughts. We would have to revert to old fashioned phone calls.
The issue is the time commitment: we can blast off an online survey to on-line users any time we want. We can always squeeze one in no matter how many other initiatives we are chasing. But to get 20 quality phone interviews from the dark side, we are probably going to have to actually call 200-400 people, maybe even more. The time commitment is so immense that it nearly always get postponed when the subject comes up.
Some time soon, we’ll bite the bullet and call our “dark side” customers and find out what they love or hate about our overall user experience. It’s no different from how anyone else did primary market research 20 or 30 years ago. It’s just interesting to observe how our expectations have changed with these awesome on-line tools. We are so spoiled 🙂