Ask Your Customers What They Want. Then Deliver It.

This week’s Persuasive Marketing Blog Post features marketing pro, Susan Lowe, who has a rich background in product marketing with companies ranging from start-ups to large enterprise companies.  She shares great tips for utilizing online surveys to keep customers happy and loyal to your products.

Susan LoweAs good marketers, we should never forget that our job is to bring products or services to the marketplace (B2B or B2C) that fulfill needs and customers want to buy. Of course, our work doesn’t end once the product or service launches. We must continually assess whether those products or services are actually meeting our customers’ needs and to what level of satisfaction.  Adding to the importance of finding out how customers’ assess our product is that their needs may change over time.  We don’t want to miss out on a new opportunity – or worse – lose business to a competitor that makes it their practice to know what the customer is thinking.

Today’s online survey tools provide an easy and cost-effective way to find out what customers think about a company, service levels, products, overall satisfaction and to uncover unmet needs.  Surveys also provide a method by which to confirm your own beliefs about customers’ perceptions.  Once you’ve decided to move forward with an online survey, it is important to set objectives and determine the information you want to obtain from the survey.  Helpful tips and guidance are available at most survey tool websites that can then assist you with planning the survey and developing the questions.  In addition, you will find it useful to send at least one test survey within your organization before sending the live survey to customers.  Running a test allows you to weed out poorly worded questions, measure actual time to complete the survey and provides the opportunity to edit and refine the survey content.

Now you’ve sent the survey and collected the responses from your customers.  What’s next?   The survey results will have a meaningful and positive impact on your business, only if your company is ready to respond to the feedback and take any necessary actions.  The survey information will do your company little good if it is only shown as data points in department presentations.  Based on the results, identify problem areas that need to be addressed immediately and those that are longer-term. Develop an immediate and longer-term plan to address areas for improvement.

Next, communicate to your customers your plans for improvement based on their survey feedback.  They want to know that you are listening and their time was not wasted.  Now you are ready to put together a ‘task’ force that is responsible for executing to the plan and measuring results.  This team will hold meetings, review the plan, set goals, agree on tactics and actions, assign ownership, and set timelines to complete.

When and how frequently should you survey customers? Be pro-active not reactive.  Find out what your customers think early on during product concept and regularly throughout the lifecycle.  It is a continuous process.  Make it a part of your best practice to know what your customers think about you and make improvements as needed.   If you’re not proactive and fall behind in getting customer feedback, it can cost you loyalty, profits and customers.

Keys to Successful Customer Surveys

  1. Identify your goals and objectives and determine what information you want to attain from the survey.
  2. Develop survey questions based on what you want to find out – online tools are available to help you plan the survey and develop the questions.
  3. Ask your customers early on and throughout your relationship what they think about you.
  4. Respond timely to customer feedback.
  5. Develop a plan to address customer responses.  Communicate the plan.
  6. Put a task force together responsible for implementing the plan and measuring improvements.