Bypassing the middleman in market research

I’m reading John Seddon’s book on quality management, I want you to cheat!. It challenges conventional ideas of managing quality through service guarantees and measurements.

He contrasts two approaches to using customer feedback. One bank employed a firm of consultants to do “mystery shopping” in its branches, leading to staff discontent at notions of spying by “experts”.

A Canadian bank took a different approach: they invited a large number of their customers to take part in a program. They would write a letter to their local branch manager after each visit, reporting their experience. They discovered that different branches had different types of customer, so they were able to respond flexibly to the feedback.

I am sure the second approach was cheaper as well as more useful.

2 thoughts on “Bypassing the middleman in market research

  1. First 100 days

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  2. Jack Yan


    I love this book. It’s what first got me into systems.

    John was a client of mine way back in 1995/6.

    Seriously impressive speaker…one of the best I’ve seen…just the right side of ‘slick’.


    Makes sense to me, and I wonder how many banks actually have this knowledge but have ignored it. For example, my bank—the ANZ—has had staff move from branch to branch. I was chatting to some who report they have found a different bunch of customers, with different demands, at each branch. The ANZ does a pretty good job of managing inputs (I was very flattered that I was referred to as ‘Jack Yan, of Beyond Branding’ at one branch today) but I would imagine many would not harness any of this knowledge, and cannot tailor their service approach. (The key, perhaps, is to define the brand well enough so that the service can be easily adapted.)


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