Marketing and sales are becoming increasingly data-driven in the technology age. Small businesses just like yours have access to more information, more easily, than ever before – Google Analytics, social media stats, website visits, etc. But do you have access to the right kind of information? Customer surveys are one of the most powerful tools for getting the information that really matters. The benefits of customer surveys for small business can be stated simply – you’ll what your customers think of you and what it is they want from you.
The benefits of customer surveys for small business
- Competitive advantage. More information is always a good thing for small business; odds are, your competitors aren’t bothering to survey their customers. By surveying yours, you get to know them better, which allows you to serve them better
- Goodwill. A few customers may see being surveyed as a nuisance, but many more will see it as a sign that your company cares about customer satisfaction, and values their opinion. When was the last time your competitors made a customer feel like that?
- Sales. Your survey may make a customer aware of a product or service offering they want or need, but didn’t know about. You may simply remind a customer of your product or service, spurring an impulse purchase. Or, your survey may simply help your business stay top-of-mind, giving you priority in the next purchase decision the customer makes.
- Identifying Trends. The world of small business changes constantly, and so do customer preferences and cultural values. By surveying regularly, you may be able to spot an emerging trend within your customer base, and get ahead of it before your competitors do.
- Customer retention. Every business has some number of silent, disgruntled customers who haven’t yet gone to a competitor. By giving these customers a voice, you may renew their sense of investment in your product or service, and influence them to remain a customer.
Factors to consider when creating effective customer surveys for small business
- Know your audience. Do you need to survey your entire customer base, or just a particular segment?
- Have a plan. Know what aspect of your operations you hope to gain insight into via your surveying efforts, and focus on that.
- Be sensitive. If your survey is going to pose any questions a customer might consider sensitive, controversial, or personal, you may need to provide an anonymous/confidential option for responses.
- Have priorities. Focus on asking the important questions first, saving minutiae like demographics for last (hint: your competition is probably doing this backwards).
- Start small. Pilot-test your survey plans with a small group of customers before rolling it out en masse; this will allow you to discover any issues with the design, wording or content of your survey early on, while you have an opportunity to correct it.
- Offer an incentive. What’s in it for the customer if they answer your survey? Plan to offer a small gift, coupon, or educational resource with a high perceived value in order to encourage responses.
The best tools for creating customer surveys for small business
Here at Cogeian Systems, we recommend three tools when setting up customer surveys for clients:
Each of the three tools offer both free and paid plans, each are relatively modern in design and function, and all three are easy to use.
Of the three, Typeform presents the most beautiful, best-designed user interface, which is a critical aspect of ensuring that customers actually complete the survey. So while all three tools are free and excellent, we give priority to Typeform when setting up customer surveys for small businesses.
A fourth option is to have a survey tool built just for you as custom software, which we’ve done for several clients. Most small businesses should be able to get started just fine with one of the three tools above, though. And for those who need some help, we can set up these tools for you.
How to ask the right questions in customer surveys for small business
- Be specific. Don’t ask two questions in one; each question should be worded so that the answer addresses one issue.
- Be assumptionless. Don’t assume the customer understands industry jargon or that they have any specialized knowledge; including either in your question may reduce your answer rate.
- Force a choice. If your question asks for a rating, use an even-numbered scale so that there’s no “middle” or “neutral” choice; this requires your respondant to “pick a side”.
- Keep it simple. Questions are best kept concise and clear. Overly-wordy or complex questions may prompt your customers to not respond.
How to distribute customer surveys for small business
Email. If you have an e-mail list (and if you don’t, you really should start building one), that’s a natural first choice for distributing your survey, particularly if you’re using one of the free, excellent online tools outlined above.
Text message. In this era of customers who are always-connected, some may prefer to have the survey link texted to their smartphone.
Website. If you have a customers-only section of your website, or if there’s a user profile/control panel of some sort that your customers log into, place a survey link there.
Postal mail. It may seem “old school” but even now, some customers will prefer to have a survey mailed to them, that they can fill out with a real pen, on real paper. If you go this route, be sure to include a return envelope with pre-paid postage.
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Creating an effective customer survey can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. Cogeian Systems helps businesses just like yours to set up and administer customer surveys that can be used to power your marketing.