Small businesses are famously agile and attuned to the wants and needs of their customers. But as they begin to grow, or as market conditions begin to change, staying on top of customer requirements can be a tricky feat. If relationships become too tenuous, an aggressive competitor will prey on those weaknesses and poach “at risk” customers.
Online surveys are an excellent tool for gauging customer satisfaction and identifying at risk customers, as well as for clarifying new trends in the marketplace and unearthing changes in the customer base. With the intelligence gathered from a strong survey program, you can modify your product or service based on real-time feedback, thereby improving satisfaction, loyalty, and profitability.
Exceed expectations and identify problems
You can learn from online surveys the degree to which your customers are happy with you. For example, a satisfied customer will just say you’re meeting expectations. What you can learn is that even though it’s likely he will come back, it’s not assured because he could also potentially be in the process of choosing a competitor based on referral, price, proximity, or other factors that are beyond your control. A delighted customer, on the other hand, will say you’re exceeding expectations. She will become a referral engine for your business and a repeat customer. By acting quickly on real-time information from a survey, you can increase the number of delighted customers, thereby protecting and expanding your clientele.
Another benefit of online surveys is that they can help stop trouble before it begins. For instance, an online retailer may assess whether customers feel that the site is functioning properly. It is entirely possible that respondents might say the company’s web navigation and online shopping cart needed improvement, the company needs a presence on sites like Facebook and YouTube, and they want new products. All of these suggestions could be addressed before losing business. Even letting your customers know you’re working on their suggestions could be critical toward maintaining their loyalty.
Similarly, a restaurant might send out a survey to gather feedback on its menu, staff, price, and atmosphere. By listening to what customers have to say, the restaurateur can quickly devote attention to the elements needing the most help. He may also find ways to better showcase the positive aspects of the dining experiences, as shown by the survey results. Giving patrons a voice in how you run your business with a “comments” section in a survey is a great way of making them feel invested in your business and your success.
Promoting Your Survey
These six tips will help you promote your survey for maximum feedback and the most valuable results.
1. Put a Link on Your Website: Your website is a natural place to post a link to your online survey.
2. Send a Survey Invitation: A survey invitation is a short email that tells customers what kind of information you’re seeking and what you plan to do with it (e.g., “Your responses will help us improve our customer service; we’ll share the results in a future email newsletter”).
3. Ask After a Sale or Service Transaction, or a Donation: Immediately following a purchase or a service transaction, or after you’ve received an online donation is an optimal time to ask for feedback.
4. Include a Link in Your Email Newsletters and Other Communications: Like your website, your email newsletter is another practical place to include a link to your survey page.
5. Put a Link on Your Blog and Social Media Sites: The social media phenomenon can’t be ignored. If you’ve built up a fan base on Facebook or have followers on Twitter, invite those social networkers to take your online survey.
6. Include in Printed Collateral Materials: If you use direct mail, brochures, flyers, and other printed pieces to promote your business, those are all good places to include a web address directing recipients to your online survey.
Online surveys are not difficult, time consuming, or overwhelming. And the dividends are great, so the next time you want to know how your customers are feeling – just ask.
About The Guest Author: Mary Crogan serves as Senior Business and Marketing Manager for Online Survey at Constant Contact. She has more than 18 years of experience marketing products and services to the small business market. As the Business Manager for Online Survey, Mary is responsible for educating Constant Contact’s customers on the value of feedback and delivering a world-class product that gives them the insights they need in order to grow their businesses and succeed.