I have to say that without a doubt “Seinfeld” has been the greatest sit-com that has ever graced television. How can you not smile when you hear the lines?

“These pretzels are making me thirsty!” – Kramer

“Newman!” – Jerry Seinfeld

“Hi, my name is George, I'm unemployed and I live with my parents.” – George Costanza

And of course,

“No Soup for YOU!” – (Well you probably know who said this one.)

All the joyous 30 minute memories of the quirky quartet almost never came to be because the focus group rated the “Seinfeld and Friends” sitcom poorly. In 1989 “Seinfeld” came on as one of those filler shows as a mid-season replacement and not a fall opener as hoped for. NBC almost passed on it completely because the focus group called the pilot “weak”. George was viewed as a “wimp”. Their score was a 41 out of 100, when 65 is the average.

When you work with focus groups you are gaining ratings (typically a score from 0 to 10) or quantitative feedback from the group. What is lacking is the explanation for the ratings from members of the group or their qualitative feedback.

In business we send out customer satisfaction surveys or use Net Promoter Scores (NPS) to gauge our customers so we can identify how satisfied they are with our products or how likely they are to recommend our services. We are making influential decisions on this simple 0 to 10 rating scale that will affect our work, revenues, and jobs.

So what happens if the data is flawed, biased, or not fully complete? Can we still make these executive decisions?

This is where qualitative feedback comes into play. You can gather much more detailed information by asking “Why did you give the product 7 out of 10?”

So how did “Seinfeld and Friends” become the greatest sitcom ever?

Gaining an explanation of the data will give you a firmer understanding as to why your customers gave your product such a rating in the first place. The common reasons for not obtaining qualitative feedback from a customer is that quantitative-only surveys are easier to send out, cheaper to produce, and time-consuming. However, do you realize that not knowing the details for their decisions can be detrimental to your bottom-line?

Think about it: If NBC’s SVP, Rick Ludwin did not look further into the originality and writing of Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld and understand their explanation as writers, “Seinfeld and Friends” would not have generated over $3.1 billion in revenue, making Jerry Seinfeld the first actor to garner the $1 million per episode salary and has made him the wealthiest actor in the world at $820 million net worth.

So now how much is asking why worth to you?

“Gold Jerry, Gold” - Kenny Bania

Title Image source: Wikipedia

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