Want to Know What Makes Your Customers Tick? Just Ask.

May 3, 2012 Gary Ritkes

Understanding how to retain customers is one of the most important lessons for a company. And when a five percent increase in customer retention can potentially augment revenue by more than 100 percent, building customer loyalty should always be top priority.* So what makes your customers happy and loyal?

If you use any sort of distribution channel to sell your products or services, the answers can be quite elusive. When the end consumer contact is happening with local sales forces, or even independent retailers, feedback from the front line doesn’t always make it back up the chain to corporate marketing. So why not go to the source by directly asking your existing consumers and the local small businesses that sell to them what factors influence the purchase of your brand?

Surveys provide a fast, inexpensive way to get directly into the minds of your local consumers or sales channels, and can be used for a variety of reasons, including reseller feedback, end-buyer opinions, and product research. They also offer the ability to provide feedback to your local sales network insight on specific issues. You can also localize surveys by geography to suit the cultural or local nuances in the tastes and opinions of your target consumers.

There are lots of survey sites online that are easy to set up, use, and aggregate results, with an array of pricing ranging from free accounts to high volume plans.

 5 Fast Tips for Creating Surveys

1. Create a goal, not a list of questions.

Focus first on what you want to gain or accomplish with the data; the questions you ask will evolve from your objective.

2. Don’t ask a question, unless you really want the answer.

This includes information you don’t really care about as well as being prepared for negative responses.

3.  Avoid jargon

If you want good information, make sure your survey recipients understand what you’re asking.

4. Keep it short and easy to exit

Enough said.

5. Allow NA or Don’t Know as answers

Offering an opt-out of a question is better than receiving than a forced, and potentially inaccurate, response.

Top 4 Tips for Sending Your Survey

1. Introduce your objective immediately.

Explain what you’re asking for, why you want it, and how long the survey should take.

2. Offer an incentive.

They are already customers, so give them a reward for helping you out.

3.  Test  everything.

Make sure the survey makes sense and the page buttons work properly.

4. Say thank you.

Yes, this may seem obvious, but it is often overlooked.

Once all responses are collected, you can use this feedback to tailor your marketing efforts and marketing reseller support, and better equip your resellers with the tools they need. Ultimately, a well crafted survey will help you become more aware of what your company does well, what your local sales channels are doing, and where you could improve to help the sales efforts of your partners.

* Frederick F Reicheld (The Loyalty Effect, Harvard Business School Press, 1996 Chapter 2 - The Economics of Customer Loyalty)

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About the Author

Gary Ritkes

Gary Ritkes, President of SproutLoud, oversees all Business Development and Marketing for the company. Gary, a pioneer in the emerging vertical of Distributed Marketing Technology, is an industry leader and innovator with 20+ years experience in graphic communications and marketing strategy. Gary has been involved with SproutLoud since the inception of the company. Prior to joining SproutLoud, Gary was VP of Marketing for Rex Three, Inc., SproutLoud’s first and largest vendor among its network of providers. He has served many Fortune 1000 clients and worldwide advertising agencies in providing marketing technology direction and optimization. He was an original founder of U.S. based Earth Color Group and co-founder of Advanced Digital Services (ADS), which was sold in 1996 to publicly traded Katz Digital Technologies. He has served as a board member of the local chapter of the American Advertising Federation chapter and other national industry associations, including the DMA and AGA.

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