Survey your customers to improve business

An online customer feedback survey is a powerful tool that helps you identify areas you can improve or enhance in your business or organization, according to Marc Ankerman of Ankerman Training Solutions in Columbus, Ohio. He suggests that there are many advantages of conducting such surveys including:

Getting information you might not know. The only way to know what your customers are thinking about your business is to ask them. The survey provides your customers an opportunity to answer the specific questions and comment on other areas you may not have thought about.

Supporting your goals. Your survey shares with your customers additional information about your services or products. You can also find out if a price increase will be accepted, if your prices are too high, or if it is time to add or delete certain products from your inventory.

Telling your story. The survey indirectly explains the reasons why you do the type of business you are doing.

Setting a Standard Operating Procedure. When your employees know your expectations the standard operating procedures become second nature to them. They are more likely to perform to those achievable standards. When your customers know the basics of what to expect, you can figure out ways to surprise them with greater service and quality, which assures repeat business.

Ankerman suggests these four steps to effectively conducting your online surveys.

Step One: Meet With Your Staff.

The initial meeting is essential to insure that you and your team are prepared to receive the feedback and design survey questions which relate to the issues (both positive and negative).

Step Two: Identify Areas You Want To Improve.

It is great to get compliments and hear about all the good things you're doing for your customers. However, to improve your business you want to know those items that your customers would like to see enhanced, changed or dropped. Design your questions to generate basic feedback so that your survey provides you with specific details.

Step Three: Tease.

At Broadway Bound, a local dance studio, the used a "teaser survey" with kids first. Although they were mainly interested in parental feedback, the kids survey got the parents involved and allowed them to discover important information about both groups. A catch phrase about the survey was created and put up on an electronic bulletin board to let everyone know the surveys were coming. They even created a contest and gave away t-shirts to the kids for turning in their email addresses. Do whatever works to get the message out that the information was important. As time passed, the parents asked when their survey would be coming!

Part Four: Prepare to Act!

Conducting your survey means being prepared to make changes and act on the suggestions. Even if you cannot act on all of the ideas, you must be prepared to consider and respond to the comments and issues raised by a survey. Once you do act, it shows your customer that you care about your business and are ready to make changes for the better.

BizSmart Action Plan:

  • Ask your staff for their survey ideas.
  • Identify possible areas of improvement.
  • Use survey teasers to start.
  • Act on the information.

Check out for e-survey success.