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To Survey or Not to Survey. Is There Really a Question?

Nov 13, 2014 3:40:42 PM

The basic rule in business is that keeping customers is far less expensive than finding and cultivating new ones. While the burden of that isn’t wholly on Sales and Marketing, it is extra important to make sure your marketing communications are as engaging, personal and relevant as possible.

Bring on the benefits
Surveys happen to be one of the best ways to learn meaningful, actionable information about your customers, because they
     • Make customers feel valued 
     • Engage customers by soliciting their opinions and preferences
     • Offer a chance to learn about habits and purchasing patterns
     • Provide an entrée to discovering and fixing a problem with the relationship

Timing is everything
How often should you survey? The answer is whenever needed to accomplish the previous objectives, or the ones shown below.

Keep in mind, though, that many customers view surveys as an annoyance. So make sure the information you hope to get is worth the risk. Offering an incentive is a tried-and-true way to overcome some of these objections.

Consider sending ad hoc surveys under the following conditions:
     • A drop in sales or number of visits
     • Shifts in the marketplace or purchasing patterns
     • As groundwork for a new product or service launch or business plan

You might also want to establish a regular habit of polling your audience annually, as a way to keep your sales and marketing efforts in high gear.Survey Blog

Okay, now how?
Apps like SurveyMonkey® make it easy to email and track ad hoc questionnaires. Direct mail involves a bit more work, but gives you the freedom to include more branding elements and marketing messages in your communication. That’s always important.

If you sell online, you might also try doing what PC maker Dell once did. At the close of every sale they would ask just one question—an approach that was much less intimidating, and which helped them build a hefty database of primary research.

FYI, Dell, like other firms, now uses the popular Net Promoter ScoreSM (netpromotersystem.com), which simply asks purchasers how likely it is they would recommend the company to a friend or colleague. Many consider this the most meaningful measure of customer loyalty.

Of course, nothing beats face-to-face interviews with your customers for authentic answers to your most pressing questions. Body language often says more than words ever can.

Ask and ye shall receive (great bottom line benefits)
Regardless of which approach works best for you, customer surveys are a valuable tool for building relationships and maintaining the loyalty of those customers who help your bottom line the most.
Need to send a customer survey? Talk to me. Anderson can help you with the best options to reach your goals.

Russ Machus

Written by Russ Machus

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