How does your customer experience compare to that of industry leaders? Bet your customers know. 

A new online survey service, created by a collaboration between Harris Interactive and Google Consumer Surveys, provides a way for large and small businesses to compare themselves to industry benchmarks -- at a cost that the companies said was lower than traditional market research.

Industry Benchmarks

Al Angrisani, President and Chief Executive Officer of Harris Interactive, said in a statement that the new venture “has the potential to reinvent the manner in which market research is conducted.”

The benchmarks will be regularly compiled and incorporated into the tool, at no charge, in the form of survey results that were conducted among leading companies of a given industry. Other companies can then purchase their own survey and compare their results to the industry leaders. Each industry benchmark will use an index, specific to the industry, which has been computed and used to provide rankings across the selected industry leaders.

Google/Harris said that when a company buys a survey through this collaboration, the survey will automatically direct questions to respondents in target areas. For example, a community bank might buy a survey in Google/Harris' first effort, the September 2012 Retail Banking Study.

Retail Banking Study Example

The questions for the community bank would automatically be sent by Google/Harris only to those locations where the bank operates. Businesses that have too few locations to generate an adequate sample of respondents will receive a notice that they cannot purchase a survey at that time.

The survey questions are distributed across the web by the Google service, and are found when users access premium content, such as news articles or videos. Questions are run across networks of sites, and those publishers receive payment based on volume of answers.

The first use of the collaboration is a benchmark on customer satisfaction in U.S. retail banking. Industry leaders Bank of America, Chase Bank, Citibank and Wells Fargo provided the responses that created the industry benchmarks.

The benchmarking survey included questions to rate a number of areas, including:

  • Overall satisfaction with a given bank
  • Satisfaction with an unnamed associate at that bank
  • Products and/or services
  • Value for the money

Respondents were also asked if they would recommend the company. The benchmarks for retail banking show several hundred respondents for each question, and offer the ability to view response totals by such parameters as gender, age, country, urban density and income.

In this first survey, banks that wish to run the same survey for their own brand and compare their results to the benchmarks for the chosen leading banks, are charged US$ 4,950. Large companies can conduct the entire effort themselves online, while smaller companies will be directed to the Google Consumer Surveys sales team, which will assess turnaround time, geographic reach, and other issues before implementing a survey.