Whether you are in a business turnaround situation or not, there are a number of benefits to undertaking customer survey that should not be ignored by your business. Here are just a few;
Determining new product offerings – customer feedback can be invaluable in guiding your business to produce new products that customers actually want to buy. It is always sensible to survey first, before spending a lot of money on product development!
Improving current products and services – if you ask, customers will tend to tell you where they feel you can improve. Using surveys for your current products and services allows you to understand your customers and tailor solutions to best fit their needs. This is a good way to ensure that your current customers remain with you.
Identifying any weaknesses with your service – customers will almost always be willing to give feedback where they have had a less than satisfactory experience. Your customer survey can be designed to identify areas and departments where there is a weak link, allowing you to deal with it accordingly. If you are in the middle of a business turnaround, you want to ensure that all the links in your chain are solid; customer survey gives you a great chance to coach and train for identified improvements.
Opening communication lines – a customer survey gives you the opportunity to inform customers of any changes or improvements going on in your organization. One of the good things about inviting this form of communication with your customers is that they will often read it more carefully than, for example, an email you send out. A well-designed customer survey can include a showcase of your latest innovations that is more likely to be noticed.
There are other benefits to customer survey that we could talk about, but assuming that you are convinced of the importance of gathering feedback for your business, let’s look at how you can efficiently create surveys to ensure a better response. Funny enough, despite knowing the benefits of gathering feedback, many businesses simply do not ask for it in the first place, so this will be our first step;
How to organise a customer survey
- Have an obvious and efficient means of gathering feedback – if you don’t have an obvious route to provide feedback, most customers simply will not bother giving it unless they really have something to complain about. ‘Bricks and mortar’ businesses can try using suggestion boxes in their stores and having staff actually ask customers to fill out a customer survey. Any business could also request feedback by emailing out a link to a customer survey to their customer lists.
- Design your survey to allow ‘real’ feedback – if you become too focused on gathering ratings out of 10 or some kind of numerical values, you may not allow room for customers to really express how they feel. Make sure you allow plenty of room for customers to provide feedback in their own words with open-ended questions. This is potentially where you will find the real nuggets for your business. For a good resource of ideas on crafting survey questions, check out these suggestions from Survey Monkey.
- Do preliminary research – this allows you to develop a targeted survey that will give you more effective results. For example, if you ask too many general questions such as “what should we be offering?” you may not get as good as result as if you ask about specific ideas. If you have a business website you could use the analytics reports of keyword searches as a starting point to narrow down your survey questions.
- Keep it simple – generally speaking consumers have a relatively short attention span so don’t bombard them with too many questions if you want a good result. Choose 5 – 10 questions in areas that you consider may give your business the most bang for buck (especially having completed your preliminary research).
- Take action – surveys are of little use to you if you do nothing with the feedback! Take the opportunity to share results with your team, including any verbatim customer comments and use them as a training tool. Take action on points that will serve your business, including picking up the phone to discuss with respondents in person if you can. A one on one conversation will often yield more valuable insights.
- Consider offering an incentive – particularly if you have struggled to get a useful response before, an incentive may help you to get more feedback. It doesn’t have to cost a lot and could be as simple as offering some kind of free download from your website or going into a draw for a prize.
Customer survey offers an important means of gathering feedback for any business, whether in a business turnaround situation or in a healthy position. Ensure that you make it easy for customers to provide their feedback at any time and that you spend some time planning in order to get more effective results. Taking action on survey results will help your business to ensure that you are putting the customer at the center of your operations and are more likely to generate good will and customer loyalty.