Research Planning

In this course, you will learn about best practices for survey design.

Work Backwards to Reach Your Goal

Work Backwards to Reach Your Goal

Customer Surveys Aren’t All Bad. Work Backwards To Reach Your Goal.

July 27, 2015in General
Survey Question

I am inundated with surveys. Toyota wants to know how I like my car or service. Amazon wants me to rate my experience. Last week, I received a survey from my children’s school!


They come via email, phone, and mail. They come at all hours of the day. And some of them end up in the trash.

We all know that developing a deep understanding of your customers and how they make choices is vital to the success and growth of a business. Customer research is a key part of accomplishing this goal. I’ve worked with many dental companies who survey their customers – dentists and patients. They’re eager to know how satisfied their customers are or how their products and services stack up against the competition.

Sadly, many customer surveys leave a lot to be desired. Why?

First, they lack quality. Poorly written surveys lead to poor customer engagement, high drop-off rates, and less than optimal results. Basically, a waste of time.

But more importantly, their aim is off. Therefore, the results of these surveys aren’t actionable and don’t directly impact the company’s growth objective.

To get the most out of survey research, you have to start with the decision you need to make, think about what insights you need to make that decision, and then use best practices in survey design to conduct customer research that will get you there. Otherwise, you’re spinning your wheels.

Start with the End in Mind

Let’s assume for a moment that you’ve written a really great survey (we’ll come back to that in a minute). Now you have the results. What are you going to do with that information? How will you analyze the data to understand your consumers and ultimately drive growth in your business?

We have to start at the end and work backwards from there. What kind of analysis do you need to make decisions and take actions?

Most survey systems will give you tools to compile all your survey responses into summary charts and graphs. Maybe you learn you have a 76% satisfaction rating or that 9 out of 10 customers would recommend you.

That’s interesting, but what are you going to do with it? What information do you need to develop a strategy to increase that satisfaction or loyalty number? Can you segment the data to find out if there are differences amongst your customer population? For example, if you’re marketing a dental product to a certain type of dental practice, can you pull out data specifically for those customers?

Data Visualization and Analysis

At Vennli, I work with several colleagues that previously spent years analyzing patient satisfaction data and helping healthcare organizations make decisions. Other team members have spent years studying choice theory, qualitative and quantitative research methodology, statistics, and market research.

The entire team here is well versed in research, data analysis, and statistics. Therefore it’s no surprise that the research portion of our software is plug-and-play and gorgeous. But they know that data is nothing unless you can intuitively understand what it means and take action because of it. Data visualization is key to this.

So think about what analysis you need in order to make your decision. What insights will make you feel confident in your decision? What will help you mitigate risk or defend your stance? What type of output will help you visualize the results in the way you need?

Junk In, Junk Out

Now you know where you’re headed and what data you need to get there. It’s time to create your survey.

I’m no expert on survey design, but I’ve picked up some tidbits from the experts here at Vennli and learning along the way. And, let’s be honest, we’ve all seen plenty of examples of what NOT to do.

When writing customer survey, it’s critical that the survey questions are formulated in a way that results in compelling, actionable data. That means that the questions are clear and can only be interpreted in one way. It also means that the survey is organized in way that makes sense to the respondent and makes it easy to respond.

While reading up on good survey design or having a specialized background and PhD in research is certainly helpful when developing a new survey instrument, there are some best practices to follow. Here are 4 things to avoid:

1. Leading questions

A leading question is worded in such a manner that it subtly prompts the customer to answer in a particular way. This just will confirm what you already know and won’t give you the insights you really need to grow your business. Some can be flat out suggestive. Here’s a nice one:

Why is Product A better than Product B?

Or, even better, want to know if your customers think you should lower your prices? Try asking them “Should we lower our prices?” The answer will be yes. Helpful? Not really.

2. Unclear wording

These are questions that make you say, “What???” When questions aren’t clear or can be interpreted several ways, the results end up being useless. It could be that the question is “double-barreled” (two questions in one!), contains a double negative, or just doesn’t make much sense. Here’s one I witnessed recently:

Were the providers who cared for you always familiar with your most recent medical history?

o No
o Yes, sometimes.
o Yes, always.

3. Out of touch questions

And then there are the questions that reflect a poor understanding of your target audience. For example, if you want to ask about the age of your dental customers, don’t ask a question like this:

What is your age?

o 18-24
o 25-35
o 35-45
o 45-50
o 50+

4. Unorganized or unfocused.

Last but not least, poorly written surveys lack focus. Instead of tackling one objective, they throw in the kitchen sink and the survey gets way too long. This is the “while I have your attention, let me also ask you about this and this” strategy. High drop-off rates ensue. Keep it on topic.

At the end of the day, good survey creation involves working backwards. Starting with a good understanding of what you need to do – the question you need to answer – then thinking about the insights you’ll need to answer that question, and, finally, creating a survey that will drive those results.

Surveys get a bad rep because of the number of poorly written ones that are thrown out there without much thought or experience behind them. But not all surveys are created equally. Market leaders know that they have to stay in touch with their customers in order to create customer-driven growth strategy. Good quality customer research provides them the insights to grow.

Rachel Mele


General Manager, Dental, Vennli 

Rachel is passionate about identifying business growth opportunities and building successful relationships that drive results. She brings over a decade of experience in the dental industry to Vennli having previously held positions in sales, marketing, business development and as a dental practice management consultant. Rachel is a sought after professional dental speaker and author. She's an Advanced Toastmaster, a member of the Speaking Consulting Network, and a professional member of the National Speakers Association. Voted Most Likely to Succeed in high school, Rachel has a relentless drive for ongoing learning and honing her skills.

Work Backward to Reach Your Goal

What four things should you avoid when writing a survey?

How to Use Customer Demographics to Segment Markets

How To Use Customer Demographics To Segment Markets (Spoiler Alert: Don't!)

How To Use Customer Demographics To Segment Markets (Spoiler Alert: Don’t!)

February 9, 2016in General

Effective marketers aim for “the right product, price, and message for the right customer at the right time.” Today, technology makes it possible for us to customize and distribute our offerings and messages to very specific, targeted audiences.


But if you don’t understand what drives customer behavior, you can’t develop the right marketing mix.

One common practice can lead marketers astray: the use of demographic variables as the primary basis for customer segmentation.

What are market segments?

Market segments are groups of customers who differ in their needs and their likely responses to marketing efforts. Within a segment, needs and benefits that customers seek are similar. Between different segments, needs differ. Firms better serve the market and make more money by recognizing these differences and leveraging multiple offerings, price points, and messages designed in response to this variance.

Demographic variables like age, income, life-stage, and education tend to be a cornerstone of market segmentation practice in most organizations. When people think “segmentation,” they automatically think about groups like millennials, baby-boomers, and ‘tweens – all based on demographic distinctions.

The reason demographic variables are popular is that they are easy-to-measure, widely published, and commonly accepted in practice. Demographic groups are easy to find through various media.

As such, the terms “segment” and “demographic” are often used interchangeably as executives and analysts refer to “target segments” as “target demographics.”

But here are the problems with this practice:

Problem 1: Customers within a demographic segment can have very different needs and values

Let’s use income as an example. When we build a marketing program for say, kitchen appliances targeted to “high income consumers,” we are implicitly assuming that somehow income defines what consumers need in appliances. But, outside of an ability to pay more than lower income consumers, what does income have to do with varying needs or tastes for a dishwasher? Nothing, really.

To be fair, knowing that the target market is defined by income helps you build a media plan, because you can identify the types of media to which higher income folks are commonly exposed. However, higher income itself may say very little about brand preferences, factors impacting customer choice in a category, and price sensitivity (yes, we can find highly price-sensitive consumers even in higher income groups!).

Tom Reynolds, a widely-cited scholar, entrepreneur, and advisor to a large number of firms worldwide on marketing strategy, uses the following scenario to illustrate this problem:

There are 2 men. They are the same age and graduated from the same high school. They each marry their high school sweetheart and purchase houses a block away from one another. They both work in the construction trade, making roughly the same income. Each family has two kids, a boy and a girl.

Yet one man is a democrat, the other a republican. How can this be so?

It’s easy to imagine the answer. These men differ in their values, perhaps a function of their upbringing or exposure to very different influences growing up, all despite their identical demographic profiles.

Demographics don’t predict needs and values within a particular product or service category very well. Our needs, values, and preferences are much less a function of our demographic characteristics and much more a function of individual hard-wiring and developmental influences.

To illustrate the point, consider the hottest demographic segment these days: the millennials, with birth years 1981 to 1996. This group has received considerable attention, both on their workplace and marketplace behaviors. Very broad generalizations are often made about millennials (e.g., “they value authenticity”1). Some of these generalizations may be true, but they provide very little specific insight into developing new products, setting price, or building marketing communications programs.

Further, evidence is beginning to show that millennials do not differ significantly from other demographic groups in many important ways.2 Most importantly, though, is the recent finding that within this generation, there exist several sub-segments that differ dramatically in their brand awareness, purchase drivers, and attitudes.3 This makes drawing general conclusions about the aggregate purchase behavior of millennials suspect at best.

Problem #2: Failed intuitive “best guesses” about preference

Without a deeper study of the meaningful “benefit segments” within particular demographic groups, managers will tend to make broad intuitive generalizations in predicting the values and preferences based upon demographics (e.g., “higher income consumers are less price sensitive”).

Here is a classic illustration of the risks in relying on that intuition:

Let’s say you’re the brand manager for Sparkle, a toothpaste brand distributed throughout the U.S.

With fresh demographic data about purchasers in hand (age, income, family size, education), you conclude that large families are an attractive target market. That’s your best guess and seems to make intuitive sense.

You and your team gather around the conference table to hypothesize about the primary driver of toothpaste sales for large families. The general consensus is that – because of the volume of toothpaste consumed over the course of a year – large families are very price-sensitive, driven by low price as well as price promotions. Therefore, the team travels down a path of building an aggressive price promotion program to increase demand among large families.

An Alternative: Rather than starting with demographics, you might have alternatively started by considering the benefits that different consumers might seek. That is, instead of asking “what demographic segments look attractive and what are their needs?” you might have begun by asking “What’s important to consumers in toothpaste consumption? Do different groups of consumers differ on the benefits they seek?”

In almost every imaginable market, the answer is a definitive YES.

In fact, in this actual case, the team discovered four primary benefit segments of toothpaste customers:

  • Sensory: Seek great flavor and an interesting product appearance
  • Sociables: Seek bright white teeth
  • Worriers: Seek to prevent tooth decay
  • Independents: Want low prices

Let’s say we did this segmentation analysis and showed It to your team. They would likely say “that’s fine, but all it tells us is that our price sensitive large families are in the independents segment.”

And… they would be wrong! As it turns out, in this case study, it was the decay prevention segment (the Worriers) that contained a “disproportionately large number of families with children.” This segment likely included a lot of parents who were concerned about the dental health of their children and the large dental bills that would likely follow if they did not try to prevent tooth decay.

In this case, segmenting by “benefits sought” rather than household size would lead to a very different marketing program for the brand.

Worriers not only represent significant volume potential (given the incidence of large families), but are also likely willing to pay for health benefits today to save on much more expensive dental bills (and cavity filling trauma!) tomorrow.
Therefore, a focus on health and cavity prevention in product development and communications targeted to the Worriers would likely be far more effective than creating a bargain-basement brand based upon intuitive speculation about the price sensitivity of large families.

Demographics describe but don’t predict

Rather than being the primary basis for segmentation, demographics should instead be used todescribe benefit segments after they have been identified. In this sense, demographic variables are used to locate and connect with particular benefit segments, rather than being used as a weak foundation for identifying differences in customer needs, leading to speculative (risky!) marketing actions.

In conclusion, probably the best summary statement about the limitations of demographic variables as segmentation variables was offered by Russell Haley when he was VP and Research Director of a leading advertising agency in New York City:

“Unfortunately, a number of recent studies have shown that demographic variables … are, in general, poor predictors of behavior and, consequently, less than optimum bases for segmentation strategies.”4

Amazingly, Haley’s observation was offered almost 50 years ago, in what became a seminalJournal of Marketing paper on market segmentation practice.

So, give Haley the credit for this wisdom, but the point is still very relevant. Use the insight by putting demographics in their proper place: after benefit segments have been identified.

How To Use Customer Demographics To Segment Markets

What are market segments?

Why Not to Demographics for Customer Segments

State three reasons why you should not use demographics to define customer segments:

Choice Factors

Choice Factor Basics

What is a choice factor?

Choice factors are specific characteristics of the product or service that may lead someone to choose one product over another. For example, a customer may select a laptop because it is lightweight and has a long battery life – those are two choice factors.

In the Vennli process, choice factors guide much of the analysis and determine the subsequent actionability of the results, so time here is well spent. Determining your choice factors is the first step in the Recon process. On the survey, customers will rate the importance of choice factors in making a buying decision, and they will also rate both you and your competitor on how you perform related to these choice factors.

How do I enter choice factors in my case?

In this area, we create “Choice Factors” for our survey. Choice factors are attributes that we believe our target segments value when they’re making the decision to purchase your offering or your competitor’s offering. Choice Factors will appear in two parts of our survey, the “Importance” section and the “Ratings” section. 

1. We create choice factors by writing them into the grey box that says “Add a New Choice Factor…” and then clicking on the green plus sign.

2. We can turn a choice factor on and off by clicking on the checkmark on the left hand corner of the choice factor pills. When we create choice factors, they are automatically “in” our survey (and thus will be green). If they are turned off (and thus not part of our survey), they will be grey.

3. We can delete a choice factor by hovering over it and clicking on the “x” that appears on the right hand side of the factor. *Note: if we delete a choice factor that has respondent data associated with it, it will be permanently deleted. As a best practice, if you have collected data on a choice factor, don’t delete it. Just turn it off.

4. We have the ability to write notes in our choice factors pill. In order to do that, please click on the luggage tag icon on the right hand of a choice factor.

5. Once you click on a luggage tag icon, you can write a note about a choice factor where it says “NOTES” (remember to click Save when you do)

6. Most of our customers have a classification system for their choice factors (e.g., price related, quality related, customer service related, etc.). If you want to keep track of that classification within the app, you can do so by creating a “tag” for your choice factor. You can add a new tag by writing it in the “Add a New Tag…” box and then clicking on the “plus” sign.

7. If a choice factor has a note associated with it, it its luggage tag will turn white.

8. If a choice factor has a tag associated with it, it will have a number on the luggage tag.

How do I identify the BEST choice factors?

In order to be actionable and useful, choice factors must be defined from the viewpoint of your customer. Step into the shoes of your customers: 

  • What state of mind is the customer in when making a decision? What is happening in their lives?
  • When they consider the choice between your offering and a competitive offering, how do they think about that choice? What choice factors do they consider?  In short, what are the factors that your customer uses to compare one offering to another?

Your goal is to capture choice factors that are the drivers of customer buying decisions. A good first step is to have your team brainstorm as many aspects of the product or service as possible. Be specific. For example, if they say "quality,” follow up with "what do you mean by quality?" or "what are the different dimensions of quality that influence our customers?"

Additionally, an excellent method to determine the drivers customer decision-making is to ask customers why they make the choices they make. Assuming that you have a customer who has chosen Brand X over Brand Y, the following questions can be asked:

In seeking…

  • Positive aspects of brand X
  • Negative aspects of brand X
  • Positive aspects of brand Y
  • Negative aspects of brand Y

You would ask…

  • What was the main reason you chose X over Y?
  • What was the main thing you did not like about X?
  • What was the main thing you liked about Y?
  • What was the main reason you DID NOT choose Y over X?

After this brainstorming exercise, you’ll likely have a long list of choice factors that you need to narrow down. The best choice factors are:

  • Broad. Consider benefits that might be relevant to customers but are not on your radar.
  • Stated specifically to be actionable. A common mistake is to select choice factors that are too abstract. For example, "my customer considers quality when they choose." This is almost certainly true, but too abstract to be useful. If your conclusion ends up being that you need to improve quality, where would you start? It’s too general to guide growth strategy.  Defined more specifically, people can respond more easily and accurately, providing more actionable data.
    • For example, "quality" actually has many dimensions. It could be defined in terms of performance (computer starts quickly) or durability (stands up to wear and tear) or…
  • Defined from the customer viewpoint, not from your firm’s perspective. Avoid jargon or terms that are used by professionals in your industry but not commonly known by consumers.
  • Stated as a positive characteristic or benefit. To capture what people believe, we will ask them if they associate each factor with your offering (and the competitor's). The most effective way to do this is to state each factor as a positive trait or outcome.

What is a choice factor?

What is a choice factor? 

How to identify best choice factors

What are the four things we need to keep in mind to make the best choice factor? 

Getting a grip on growth

Getting a Grip on Growth

Jordan Spieth’s historic Masters victory this past weekend seemed like a walk in the park. We saw an effortless swing, flawless putting, and an impenetrably calm demeanor. The brutal test of golf that is the Augusta National seemed to lay down quietly as Spieth walked the course.

But don’t be fooled by appearances. There was plenty churning in Spieth’s mind (and probably stomach) on Sunday, following a nearly sleepless Saturday night.

What is it that allowed this young man to make the incredibly complex look so simple, particularly on golf’s biggest stage? There are many answers, but probably most important is this: he has a mastery of the fundamentals and the confidence that results.

Consider something as simple as how the 21-year old Jordan grips the golf club:

Instead of resting the little finger of his right hand on top of his left index finger or linking his pinkie and index fingers, Spieth lets that left index finger ride on top of the right hand and slightly interlock with his right pinkie. With that finger position–and an overall weak grip in general–Spieth doesn’t have any trouble hitting draws or fades on command.” (Rudy, 2015)

This is not an insignificant observation. According to the iconic Ben Hogan in his classic Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf, the grip is the root cause of an effective golf swing.

Hogan is one of the greatest champions in the history of the game, with 64 PGA Tour wins, including nine majors. In the book, he breaks down the swing into four core elements: the grip, stance and posture, first part of the swing (backswing), and the second part of the swing (down-swing).

While perhaps surprising to non-golf fanatics, the grip is the subject of an entire chapter in Hogan’s book. Hogan’s devotion comes across in his rich descriptions: “For myself and other serious golfers, there is an undeniable beauty in the way a fine player sets his hands on the club.”

Ben Hogan practicing (image source)

We’ll leave the details of Mr. Hogan’s technical descriptions to those who wish to review the classic work. What’s relevant to our discussion is the critical role the grip plays in regulating the quality of the swing:

Keeping pressure on the shaft with the palm pad does three things: it strengthens the left arm throughout the swing; at the top of the backswing, the pressure from this pad prevents the club from slipping from the player’s grasp; and it acts as a firm reinforcement at impact.” (Hogan, 1957)

This places the grip and the swing it produces as central determinants of the golfer’s ability to achieve the end goal: become more competitive.

Frequently, you know, what looks like a fairly good golf swing falls apart in competition . . . The harsh light of competition reveals that a swing is only superficially correct . . . It can’t stand up day after day. A correct swing will. In fact, the greater the pressure you put on it, the better your swing should function, if it is honestly sound.” (Hogan, 1957)

Getting a grip on business growth

There’s a nice parallel story to tell here when it comes to developing business growth strategy.

The goal of a business is to create honestly sound strategy that will hold up under competition. One powerful way to do that is to solve customer problems – to deliver both expected and new value to customers in ways that your competitors do not.

Understanding the value that customers seek is complex. Like the golf swing, it helps to break it down into smaller parts.

Consider the following dimensions of customer value:

  • Functional – Does the product/service produce an outcome provide some basic purpose that customers value? (e.g., does my morning cup of coffee wake me up?)
  • Time – Is there value in the speed of service or time-savings in general?
  • Place – Is the offering conveniently located or accessible?
  • Information – Do customers get all the information they need from this brand? Do they feel “informed?”
  • Financial – Are there financial benefits such as a sense of a “good deal” or earning rewards?
  • Relationship – Do customers feel connected to this brand somehow, have previous experiences with it, or know the employees?
  • Experiential – Do customers enjoy the consumption experience? (e.g., the setting, music, or surroundings?)
  • Symbolic – Do customers identify with the brand? Does this brand “represent” them well?
  • Aesthetic – Do customers value product / place design – i.e. the attractiveness, beauty, or style?
  • Total Price – Is the total set of benefits received from all of the above worth the associated costs to customers?

Similar to Hogan’s teachings about the components of an effective golf swing, great brands may hit on many of these dimensions of value (think Starbucks, Apple).

In addition, each of these components work together. For example, Starbucks’ unique product offering creates more value when supported by fast, courteous service provided by knowledgeable baristas who will likely get to know you and your drink preferences over time. Similarly, superior consumer products are more valuable when they are widely distributed and accessible.

But unlike the four pieces of the golf swing, your organization doesn’t have to be “perfect” on every single dimension of customer value to grow your business. You need, however, to get a grip on a few to be competitive.

On some dimensions, it will be sufficient to match competitors. Certain dimensions of value represent table stakes or points of parity.

On other dimensions, competitors’ superiority may be difficult to overcome. For example, it would be impossible for a small regional coffee shop to match Starbucks’ ubiquity of retail locations.

On still others, you might even reduce your attention or performance. Why would this make sense? It could help you to focus on what is really important to customers.

Which brings us to the key part of the analogy. To have a competitively sound growth strategy, you don’t have to be the best at everything. You do need to be solid at delivering the important points-of-parity, which customers expect. But what will drive your financial performance is your ability to do something uniquely well and important in the customer’s eyes.

In other words – to have a fundamentally sound strategy – you need a good grip on your own selected important competitive differences. That “grip” has many well-known names: value proposition, unique selling proposition, or competitive points-of-difference.

These terms all refer to the value that you provide that’s different from competitors and that matters deeply to customers. Getting a grip for business growth means getting a focus.

An example of a clear, compelling grip

In their work on Value Innovation published in Harvard Business Review, Kim and Mauborgne discuss the case of Formule 1, a company with a specific “grip” on the budget hotel market. When introduced, Formule 1 built a business focused on tired travelers’ (e.g., for sleepy truckers’) need for a quiet, clean, safe, and comfortable stop to sleep with no frills and a price well below competitive hotels.

Once Accor got a hold on their value proposition — “better than 2-star quality at a 1-star price” — the rest of their “swing” became clear. Management reduced costs by completely removing a number of dimensions of value that were non-essential to their target customer (e.g., receptionist, restaurant, amenities). This strategy allowed for investment in exceptionally quiet, clean, and comfortable accommodations at a much lower cost than comparable hotels.

The results were remarkable. Formule 1’s market share grew to be larger than that of their five largest competitors combined.


The Formule 1 tagline is as simple and effortless as Jordan Spieth’s swing: “Sleep well at the best price.” But that simplicity belies the complex fundamentals that preceded it: choosing a grip (value proposition) that could guide revamping the budget hotel business model around an unmet need in the market.

Get your own grip

So, think of your value proposition as your grip on the market. If it’s focused both on important customer needs and compelling competitive differentiation, it provides a strong foundation for guiding and regulating the rest of your growth plan.

And with a competitively sound swing like that, anything is possible. Just ask Jordan.


Featured Image:
Hogan, B. (1957). Five Lessons: The modern fundamentals of golf. New York, NY: Barnes.
Kim, W. C., & Mauborgne, R. (1997). Value innovation: The strategic logic of high growth. Harvard Business Review, 75, 102–112.
Matthew Rudy, How He Hit That: Jordan Spieth’s Unconventional Grip Takes Hold of the Masters, April 11, 2015, Golf Digest.
Adapted from Joel E. Urbany and James H. Davis, Grow by Focusing on What Matters, New York, NY: Business Expert Press, 2010, chapter 6.

Joe Urbany, PhD


Cofounder of Vennli and Professor at the University of Notre Dame 

Joe is a core marketing faculty member in Notre Dame’s MBA program and past Associate Dean of the Mendoza College of Business with numerous publication credits related to customer decision making and growth strategy.

In 2010, Joe Urbany co-wrote a book entitled Grow by Focusing on What Matters: Competitive Strategy in 3-circles. The premise of the book is that growth and competitive advantage are about effective positioning. The model facilitates speed of understanding and action by focusing strategic attention on what impacts customer decisions. It has been applied in over 800+ MBA projects at Notre Dame. Co-founded in 2013 by Joe, Vennli is based on this proven model. Vennli brings the model to life through the use of collaborative technology and providing a platform that makes an already faster and more intuitive process even more accelerated and streamlined.

Please list and describe the 10 dimensions of customer value described by the article

Select 2 Dimensions

Please select 2 dimensions of customer value and write 3 choice factors for each of the two dimensions (for a total of 6 choice factors)

Write Choice Factors from Qualitative Interview

Qualitative Interview Report











Qualitative Interview Transcripts



Dunkin’ Donuts

Anna McKeever, Customer Success Manager at Vennli

February 24, 2015

Growth Case Progress



Executive Summary: The following document contains summaries and transcripts of the qualitative interviews performed with 40 Dunkin’ Customers. You will find notable quotes, Interview over-arching themes, as well as a person by person transcript.

Notable Quotes:

I come here every day. They have a friendly staff that's adopted me and they have a family atmosphere. They know me by name and they are my home away from home. I like the wifi, and windows and the counter.”

Customer 21

“I like good coffee, but atmosphere is part of it. I like the ambiance of Starbucks better than Dunkin’, which is the Walmart or Ikea of coffee shops. More booths to hang out would be nice”

Customer 34

I’ve been coming here since the 1960's.

Customer 25

If I had less money, I would've got a frappe at McDonalds. If I had more money or took a different route I may have gone to Starbucks, because I like the way their ice is blended into the Frappuccino better. I also feel that Dunkin’ Donuts is sometimes too sweet.”

Customer 10 

“I come here everyday, (because of the) convenience (of being) between my house and work. They know their coffee and mine.

Customer 22

“If you revamp the hot food, you could get more business. I love potatoes, but not the ones here. The ones here are too greasy and little. I also used to get bagels here, but they put too much cream cheese on them. Panera does a good job because they have health conscious food that tastes good.”

Customer 17 

"(Would have gone to a coffee shop/restaurant that was) closer, because we live a while away

Customer 29

“I used to live on the East Coast and Dunkin' is a big thing there. I like it here.”

Customer 23

Interview Over-Arching Themes:

The predominant themes gleaned from the interviews were proximity, price, customer service, and taste preferences for drinks.


Many indicated that they stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts when buying coffee on the way to work or while going on a lunch break. Almost half of the respondents (16 in total) indicated that convenience and proximity played a role in their decision to go to Dunkin’ Donuts. With lives becoming increasingly complex and busy, it is no surprise that convenience is playing a strong role in decision making for customers.


Throughout the interviews, customers frequently discussed sensitivity to price. Six of the thirty seven interviewed mentioned that they chose to come to Dunkin’ Donuts over a more expensive option.

Customer Service:

A few regulars, bringing in a recurring and profit stream, mentioned the strong influence that a friendly customer experience had in their decision journey. Customers 17, 21, and 22 all mentioned an extraordinary customer service experience given their regularity.

Taste Preferences for Drinks:

Many people cited specific products as their reason for coming into the door. Besides regular coffee, a few lattes (Hazelnut and Raspberry) pulled people into the door.

Interview Transcripts:


Question List: 


Customer Number

Why did you decide to visit Dunkin' Donuts today?

What did you purchase at Dunkin' Donuts today?

What would have led you to visit a different coffee shop or fast food restaurant?

What would you have done differently if you would have known that this Dunkin' Donuts location was going to be closed today?

What is your gender?

What is your age?

Which Dunkin' Donuts location did you visit today?

Did you use the drive through during your visit?

Please write 10 choice factors that you think we should include in a survey we design from the qualitative interview report