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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Everyone knows that you can learn a lot from customers.  But how many people actually reach out to them and ask for their opinion?  A company that I recently consulted for reaches out to hundreds of customers daily but never asks them what they think of their products, services customer service agents, or service. Getting feedback from your customers is easy to do and takes very little time - it's an essential part of marketing.

Using surveys to ask about customer satisfaction or to generate ideas for your business is essential. What most companies don't realize is that collecting customer feedback is easy to do with the right tools and well defined goals. Collecting information should be part of every business.Each touch you have with a customer is an opportunity to collect information.

Whether you are a retail business or run your business online, collecting information can be as simple as asking.  I've seen a variety of techniques that are effective for surveying customers and gathering information.  Here are just a few:

1.  Use SurveyMonkey or another online survey solution.  These are inexpensive and esy to design.  Use posting options to send links via email or post online.

2.  Print survey cards that can be included with an order.  If you are selling physical products, whether shipping or checking out at the counter, be sure to include a paper survey card.

3.  Print information about your survey on a customer receipt.  When you hand over a receipt or send via email, let your customers know about your survey and how they can provide feedback.

4.  Offer an incentive.  If you can offer a free product or discount for those who complete your survey, you can dramatically improve response rates.  Find low cost options that provide value to your customers.

5.  Create a contest.  Establishing a contest around that encourages customers to send you there feedback can be an exciting way to gather information.  Video contests, testimonial submissions, and user videos can give you new ideas and information that enhance your business.

These methods are great for collecting information.  The key is to consider what information is vital to your business?  What type of information for customers can improve your service, sales, and marketing?  Take time to ask the right questions and the results can be of tremendous value.

I find that surveys that take less than 5 minutes to do are completed more often than longer surveys - unless their is an incentive. Depending on the size of the incentive, individuals are usually willing to complete surveys of different length.  Experiment with survey format and length to improve response rates.

Make surveys an essential part of your overall marketing program.  Use surveys to evaluate your business and collect vital information.  Also use the touch to collect customer testimonials that you can publish online and off.  Customers are always your greatest asset!


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