One of the most immediate and easiest ways to capture more business and learn about why customers buy from you is to conduct a short and simple customer survey. This survey should be conducted by phone; voice to voice with your customers and preferable by a third party to ensure candor. Survey Monkey and similar programs are fine but they don’t hear the tone of the answers and get a much lower response level then the direct call approach. If done well the tone and demeanor of the respondent can be picked up by the surveyor and explored further to get to the root of the responses.
Good customer surveys achieve three primary goals:
- 1. Understand why your customers buy from you and what they like best about your company and approach so you can leverage this understanding into marketing messages and differentiators,
- 2. Recapture dormant customers who do not use your company with regularity but who might with a gentle reminder of your offering and expertise – you can even make them aware of new capabilities and products they may not have used in the past but need now,
- 3. Gather market intelligence by asking for their advice on the market place and where they general go for information and how they like to receive it. People are always willing to provide advice and guidance and often can refer you to other connectors and players in your market.
This is the standard starting place for most Market Research initiatives to help ensure the most efficient direction. Each survey should include a mix of quantitative questions like “On a scale of 1-10 rate our service” or “Would you refer us to others?” as well as qualitative questions like “What is the one thing you would change about the way we do business with you if you could?” or “What are some products you need that we could carry for you?”
We recommend talking to at least 10 customers from each of the four typical categories:
- Clients – regular repeat and loyal customers
- Customers – semi regular (couple of times per year) buyers
- Dormant Customers – used to do regular business with you but haven’t heard from lately
- Old Accounts – have not bought from you in at least a year but no older than three years
Prior to reaching out to your customer we should send a “heads-up” email to the target list so they can expect the survey call and understand the motive behind the survey. Most clients are usually very willing to provide feedback and advice to a third party with more candor than to the provider themselves.
This email might read:
In an effort to improve our service to you our valued customer AND to gather information about how we can provide you and potential customers a better experience and offering we have partnered with a third party market research team to gather information on our behalf. They will be calling you in the next two weeks to conduct a brief survey that will not take up more than 10 minutes of your time. We hope you will kindly take their call and answer a few questions for us.
The information gathered will form the basis of not only marketing messages but what potential market directions could be explored. Typically the data is presented in charts and graphs for the quantitative information and a cross section of comments and notable ideas in a written report.