Posts Tagged ‘Customer Loyalty’

Forrester Research Post on Customer Satisfaction Surveys

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

I came across a Forrester Research blog post on Customer Satisfaction Surveys that I wanted to share.  I discuss several of their points in detail in my article entitled “Keys to a Successful Loyalty Program”.

http://smallbusinessmarketinggroup.com/retain-customers.htm

However, if you don’t have time to read my full article, or just want to see who else shares these opinions, definately check out the Forrester blog.

http://blogs.forrester.com/b2b_market_research/2009/09/why-is-customer-satisfaction-research-so-hot.html

Until next time, thanks for reading.

Mistakes To Avoid With Customer Satisaction Surveys

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Satisfaction surveys are a great way to get an idea of how your customers feel about your business, but it’s easy to make some common mistakes that will erode the value.  Here are some things to keep in mind when launch your satisfaction survey.

  1. Don’t ask questions if you don’t care about the answer.  People don’t really enjoy taking surveys, so you want to keep it as short as you can to collect only the information you can act upon.  It’s so easy to keep piling on questions that seem interesting at the time, but ultimately you’ll never go back to and use.  I’ve also seen people ask about things they either can’t or won’t change.  If you aren’t going to address an issue, don’t set the expectations with your customers that you are by asking about it.  Nothing infuriates customers more than when they take the time to give feedback only to have it ignored.  On a similar note, only include demographic questions if you’re going to use them in the analysis.  People don’t like giving personal information, so don’t ask for it unless you’re prepared to use it (which isn’t the same as saying not to get it and use it, because it can be valuable).
  2. You’re survey is a reflection on your company. Okay, I know how tempting it is to get a free version of SurveyMonkey, thrown together a few questions, and get on your way.  Please resist the temptation.  You would never prepare a big sales presentation with an unbranded, unprofessional looking template you found on the internet or design your brochures in MS Word (I hope).   Even if you do use something like SurveyMonkey , go ahead and pay for the professional version so you can add your logo and customize the design.
  3. Pre-test the survey.  By that I mean don’t just have someone skim over it for typos (although they should do that too), but actually have them take it.  Have them look for questions that are confusing, biased or leading, or use company lingo that outsiders won’t understand.  Ask about the survey length.  Then take a look at the data after a few people have taken it.  Sometimes people don’t interpret a question the way you intended it and you’ll need to re-phrase.  It’s better to know all that before you send the survey to all your customers.
  4. Mutually exclusive and exhaustive option set.  Okay, so this is a good example of industry lingo I just advised against.  What this means is when you ask a multiple choice question, the possible answers shouldn’t overlap and should cover all possible options.  For example, if you ask how often someone typically eats at your restaurant, don’t give these options:
    1. 1-2 times per month
    2. 2-4 times per month
    3. 4-8 times per month

If they eat at your restaurant 2 times per month, which option would they select?  How about if they eat there daily?  A better option would be:

  1. Less than once per month
  2. 1-2 times per month
  3. 3-4 times per month
  4. 5-8 times per month
  5. 9 or more times per month

That’s a good start.  I could keep going on this for a while, but I’ll stop here and likely come back to this topic again in the future.  In the meantime, feel free to post questions you might have in the comments section below or contact us for a more in depth conversation.  Until next time, thank you for reading.

Customer Satisfaction Surveys – A Missing Ingredient For Small Business

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Every business should have a customer satisfaction / loyalty survey.  Small businesses, this includes you as well.  While popular ways for small businesses to get customer feedback including informal customer conversations and listening to customer complaints may be cheap and easy, they simply don’t give you enough information and may not be representative of your overall customer base.  In other words, the needs of the “squeaky wheels” might not be the same as your overall customer base.  More importantly, they may not be the same as your most profitable customer base.

Customer satisfaction surveys allow you to ask about a broad range of topics.  They let you see what problems need to be addressed right now and if your latest improvement efforts are working.  They can also give you new ideas on what types of products or services your customers would like to you offer in the future.

Launching a satisfaction survey isn’t too difficult and can be very valuable, but there are some common pitfalls you’ll want to avoid when starting out.  Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll address some best practices and things to avoid in your customer satisfaction survey.  Until next time, thank you for reading.

If You Don’t Have A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System, You Need One!

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

In speaking with many small businesses, it’s become very clear that a high percentage of business owners don’t know what CRM is, let alone have a CRM system and a process to use it.  With that in mind, here’s a brief overview of CRM systems.  My next post will cover some of the many ways to use CRM to give help your business a competitive edge and improve your profitability.

A CRM system is essentially a powerful but user-friendly database that allows you to track valuable information about your prospects and customers.   CRM systems are fully customizable and can store information like contact information, demographic profiles, product interests, past purchase behavior, contract details, and sales opportunity details.  They have powerful reporting engines that let you slice your data almost every way imaginable.  Some can even be integrated into your business website so when a prospect fills out a contact form, a lead with all their information is created in the system and it alerts you via e-mail.  You can also control access so employees can only see or edit appropriate sections.

There are many different systems, but my preference is Salesforce.com for several reasons.  First, it’s amazingly affordable and scalable.  The most basic version is $60 per user per year (as of 1/28/10) and you can get a lot of great features for $204 per user per year.  Second, it’s an online model so you can access your system from any computer with internet access.  There’s no software to install.  Lastly, it’s simply a very powerful but intuitive system and you can be up and running in a couple of hours with some basic training.

A CRM system is valuable if you use it for nothing more than a central depository for tracking customer information.  However, that’s just the beginning.  In my next post I’ll discuss how you can really improve your business processes, marketing ROI, customer retention, and more by leveraging the full power of CRM.  Until next time, thank you for reading.

Customer Loyalty is Made by Emotional Connections

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

I recently conducted a research survey where I offered participants a chance to win one of three $50 gift cards for completing the survey (an effective, cost-effective way to boost survey response rates).  A customer jokingly wrote back telling me that a competitor gave her a $50 gift card for completing their survey and it wasn’t fair that I was just giving her a tiny chance to win a gift card.  From her language it was pretty clear she was just teasing.  However, I wrote back telling her that I couldn’t stand to be outshined by our competitor and was sending her a $100 gift card to thank her for her participation and show her that I valued her business.  I also jokingly let her know not to get spoiled and expect this every time.  She wrote back saying that she was stunned by the response and thanked me profusely.  Odds are she told some colleagues and friends about it, and she’ll probably re-tell the story when she goes to spend the gift card.

The next time a competitor calls that customer trying to lure her away, they’ll have a much tougher hurdle ahead of them because now, my customer has a stronger emotional connection to my company and she knows she truly is a valued customer and we’re going to take care of her.

Companies like Enterprise Rental Car and Nordstrom have known about this concept for a while and have become very successful by developing practices to delight their customers.

It’s amazing how big an impression an extremely inexpensive gesture can have on someone.  Think about a restaurant manager walking the floor who overhears someone complaining to their friends about the glass of wine they ordered and swoops in and offers to bring them something else free of charge.  For just a few dollars, that manager can turn what could have been a festering, relationship-souring experience into a great experience they’ll remember the next time someone asks that guest for a restaurant recommendation.

Regardless of your business, there are countless opportunities for you to go above and beyond to delight your customers (especially your most profitable customers).  Think about how you would feel if the president of your big, faceless cable company called to personally thank you for your business – probably pretty pleased.  Your customers could feel that way about you.  Until next time, thank you for reading.

Not all customers are created equal. Stop treating them like they are.

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

How do you prioritize customer complaints or requests? I’m not talking about little things like a restaurant manager letting a customer send back a glass of wine he didn’t enjoy. I’m talking about more serious issues or request that will require real resources to implement like bringing back an old menu item you used to have or adding more cardio equipment to your gym or extending your business hours. Do you figure that if one or two people ask for it, you should probably do it? Perhaps you deal with the customers that complain the loudest or most often? I’d like to suggest that if you’re not taking into account the profitability of the customer making the request, there’s a good chance you’re making a mistake.

Think about your business for a minute. Does every one of your customers spend the same amount with you on products where you make the same margin? Does every customer refer the same amount of business? Do they cost the same to maintain through customer service costs? Whether you have 10 customers or a million, I’d bet good money that some of your customers are more profitable than others. In many cases, it’s shocking to see how much of your profit is driven by such a small percentage of your clients.

Despite the frequent reality of this situation, so many companies treat everyone the same (or worse, treat their most profitable customers the worst because they’re not the ones complaining). If you do a customer satisfaction survey (and if you don’t, read my next blog posting), do you break out the satisfaction scores and comments for your most profitable customers and take actions to make sure you’re scoring as high as possible with this group? For that matter, can you even identify who your most profitable customers are? And by the way, while your largest customers can often be your most profitable customers, I can promise you that’s not always the case.

I’ve seen this in both large companies and small businesses, but it’s extra important for small business owners simply because you have fewer resources to go around. If you allocate your customer service and development time/dollars equally, you’re under-serving and in turn risking the relationship with your most important customers. I urge you to take some time to think about your best customers and figure out how you’re going to delight them and keep them coming back.

For a deeper look into customer satisfaction and retention strategies, check out my Customer Loyalty White Paper. I hope you find this and my other posts interesting. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post and on what you’re doing in your business. Until next time, thank you for reading.
-Jeremy