All printers follow up on poor survey responses immediately, sometimes within minutes of submission. That’s fantastic, but the conversation gets silent when asked how they respond to survey responses where a customer shows interest in other services, gave a referral, gave a glowing testimonial, or was lukewarm about recommending.
Acknowledge every customer filling out your survey. If you don’t, expect your future response rates to drop like a rock. If you’re strapped for follow-up resources consider leveraging a standard e-mail template and personalizing to reference something unique in the response. The goal is to acknowledge you to read their response and that you care. Below are some tips to do this effectively and efficiently for the different scenarios.
What to do with those upset or dissatisfied?
No one disagrees that you shouldn’t call this group immediately to make it right and preserve your reputation. Follow-up reaction time is critical and don’t just e-mail, but call. The personal touch goes a long way in turning the customer around. The key is to have a process that puts poor surveys on radar quickly. In one instance a printer owner shared that they were shocked to receive a poor survey response from one of their largest customers they thought was secure. They called the customer immediately, nailed down a meeting for the next morning, and saved $150,000 a year in revenue. It all came down to showing humility, showing they cared, reacting quickly, and making the necessary changes.
What do you do when they share services bought elsewhere?
A printer may ask a typical question asking what they buy elsewhere. This question may uncover non-traditional print items bought somewhere else such as promotional items, large-format, Website development, and creative design services. Don’t assume they will call you if they click some of these items. Your customers will get busy and forget they even clicked something. Remind them and articulate what you do in that area and expand your client share within the account. It is far easier to close new business with existing accounts than chasing that next new client. This is another example where the return on investment with a phone call far exceeds just sending out an e-mail to them. You must engage the customer personally and there is no substitute. Ask open-ended questions about what they are doing now, what they would like to see different when delivering that service, and understand what the evaluation process is for consideration. Those are the three basic open-ended questions to ask.
What should you do with those “very likely” to recommend you?
Over 80 percent of your survey responses will be positive and glowing. Most printers ignore these. They view these as their performance yardstick. The best run printers acknowledge these with at least an e-mail that is 90 percent from a template, but personalized by referencing comments made about an employee or something you did that was unique and special. Acknowledge! If you don’t, you will see your response rates suffer in the future. Customers will wonder if you even read them. Be different! One printer owner shared with me that they call responding customers after hours and leave voicemails. This is a very efficient way of acknowledging and personalizing the thank you, but also they can’t afford to get tied up on the phone with every responding customer. They pick one night of the week and blast through all the positive customer responders. He thanks them for taking the time, leaves a little commentary, and uses the voicemail as another way to connect, keep his name in front of them, and finishing in less than two minutes. Not bad. Other printers delegate the phone calls to CSRs or sales people, but I recommend being careful about delegating. You want each customer to feel safe sharing with management. The main goal of the survey is to keep the lines of communications open and give customers the opportunity to connect at a high level from time to time. Executives can’t be everywhere all the time and with our busy lives it is great sending a short online survey to keep the information flowing both ways.
What about those just “likely” to recommend?
Most customers ignore these survey responses. This is a mistake. These surveys offer an opportunity to understand how to become more of the preferred source. Ever hear the saying “Good enough never is.”? There is a reason why you didn’t get the stellar score. It may involve little things they referenced in the comments section, but you may hear “I never give anyone a top score on any survey.” That may be correct, but don’t let them off the hook. You may want to ask “What does your best supplier do that thrills you? Please share the little things they do.” Ask them “If you were running my business what one thing would you change?”
You may not have the resources to call these people, but an e-mail template with a little personal touch will uncover ways to make the relationship with this customer unique and special. There is a great book “The Ultimate Question” by Fred Reicheld where he explains how “likely” to recommend is a passive supporter of your business and a “very likely” to recommend customer is a promoter. There is a big difference. A likely to recommend still considers your competition, may be happy with one service but not another, and may recommend you. On the other hand a promoter will put their reputation on it. They will say things like “You must go to XYZ Printing. They are wonderful, flexible, and always pull us out of a jam. We love them. You can’t do any better.” See the difference? Push for “Very Likely” and watch your bottom line soar and your need to market to new customers drop. You will have new customers knocking on your door. Start off with an e-mail template and personalize your message to the situation. You will get a lot of “likely” to recommend responses and your goal is not to accept this, but drive them to the top score next time.
How should we handle when a referral comes in?
This is a sensitive issue because the customer has gone out on a limb giving you permission to reach out to their friend or colleague. Here are a few tips. First, call your customer, thank them for the referral, and ask how they want you to approach the referral? Ask if it is okay to use their name as a reference. Then, call the lead and keep the referrer in the loop as things progress. You may even want to surprise the referrer with a small gift or token of appreciation. It goes a long way. While you won’t get a ton of referrals, typically 3 percent of all who fill out the survey, they will be better than your average lead. Have a process to acknowledge the referral, keep the customer in the loop, and follow-up quickly while the iron is hot.
We should think of all survey responses as gifts from our customers and thank them for the gift.
In my next blog I will share e-mail and phone talking point templates for the top five situations listed above.