Business managers are advised to perform customer surveys periodically. These are great tools for the organization as they allow input from the source most important to the business, the customer. After all, sales are critical for success. Managers need to find survey opportunities and gather meaningful input, then act upon it.
Business Survey Types
Various types of surveys can be performed for fact finding. Each is useful when designed correctly. Proper analysis of results can identify which forms are most useful. There are often different objectives for different forms. By understanding the types, managers can determine which works best, in which situation. This will allow future exercises to be consistent and to work towards an ideal.
Customer Contact Survey
How do customers find you? Getting new people is extremely important to a business. Finding out how they first found out about you can be very helpful. Maybe you ran an advertisement in the newspaper. Did it bring in any visitors? Perhaps there was some online ad campaigns. Did these result in sales? An initial contact form may identify which advertising method was most successful. This can help to focus marketing expenditures in the future, and improve their results.
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After a completed sale, how was the process? Did you meet expectations, exceed them, or were there problems? Part of the delivery process should always be the questionning of the client. If there were delivery problems, managers need to know about them. They then need to rectify issues so that similar trouble never happens again. Did the client feel like they got good value? Repeat business is a major success indicator. If you are not perceived to be providing good value, repeat sales to clients will be unlikely. Many businesses absolutely rely on recurring client business. Find out what worked during your sales. Enhance the good aspects and fix the bad ones.
Your organization can query people on the street. While this method can be difficult, there can be important facts learned. Hire some representatives to take clipboards outside. Give them a form with questions to ask. This can be at your company location or at a trade location. Seminars and expositions are good, if you have the proper permissions.
Ask initial questions such as "Do you know about Penny's?". Or you can ask general questions like "Where did you get your last haircut?". Make the first question very short and easy to answer. Busy passersby will not have much time and they may be reluctant to answer. Use a yes/no type to break the ice. Asking a long one like "Do you want to find out more about mutual funds?", is likely to receive very little positive response.
After the first question, a more detailed line of inquiry can be asked. The person may be interested in the nature of the survey and may have questions of their own. If so, your firm can gather useful information from this person. More responses will be gathered from interesting respondents, and the value of your research will improve. You can use an incentive to help boost responses.
Consider giving out a bonus offer when you have the first contact with people. As they are asked something, they can be offered a discount coupon to your business. A 50% off offer, or a $25 discount coupon, will be quite significant. Make the offer relevant, and irresistable. Even if the person does not provide responses, they will receive a marketing item. When they later redeem it, the interchange will be trackable to the on-street survey.
Customer Complaint Forms
An extremely valuable amount of knowledge can be received through a customer complaint process. Unhappy people represent a major threat to a business. They tell their friends about their negative experience. They advise anyone who will listen that they were treated badly. They may have hundreds of connections on the Internet, or even thousands. By finding out about trouble, you have the opportunity to rectify the situation. If it matters, you should know about it. That includes problems. If you don't know, you can't react. That could cause a major drain of sales.
Questionning the staff can be very helpful. They are on the operation front lines so they often know more about what is going on. They may have various communication channels establishes but they may not always feel comfortable using them. A survey may obtain helpful information from staff. This could be related to an individual's work area, or to some other area in the organization. Again, problems can be found which can then be managed. Be aware that many staff members may use this type of form for venting purposes. Managers will have to be ready for this possibility, but should also look for hands-on knowledge obtained.
Inactive Client Survey
If an established client relationship ends, or is otherwise suspended, the reasons should be gathered. The client may be dissatisfied with service, pricing, or some other reason. The organization really needs to know why. Hopefully a misunderstanding can be corrected. Perhaps a supplier was at fault. Maybe pricing was not reflective of market realities. There are any number of reasons that can terminate a client relationship. Unresolved issues may later affect future sales. Other customers may learn of the trouble one client had. They will be wary of you in the future. If you know what problems a client had, you have the possibility of fixing things. This may rescue other sales opportunities. You can allieviate issues for others before they occur. You might be able to rescue the inactive client and resume sales to them. Finding out the reasons for inactivity may be important.
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Management In Action
The various survey forms are tools that business managers can use to check on current operational efficiency. It is vitally important to know exactly what is going on in the organization. Fact finding must be a prime management objective. Client satisfaction can be measured through the proper use of feedback forms. Regular queries should be performed in order to check the success of the organization over time. This can be related to corporate sales volumes to find correlations. Doubtless, happier clients are likely to support the business much more than unhappy ones.
Consider establishing corporate performance targets based on client satisfaction. This can be related to organizational efficiency as well. Long range goals should involve a mixture of expenditures on marketing and information gathering. Incoming data is vital for the proper management of a firm's operations. Without it, decisions are made blindly, results are usually inconsistent, and long term viability is in doubt. With clear data, managers can see what works, build on the strengths and resolve weaknesses.
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