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TJ Tedesco

View from Mount Olympus

By TJ Tedesco

About TJ

T.J. is team leader of Grow Sales, Inc., a marketing and social media services company operating at the intersection of compelling content, clear vision and quality communication practices. In this blog, fire is a metaphor for print. Hang on, this ride will be weird...

Prometheus crept into Mt. Olympus, stole fire, returned to the lowlands, ran from house to house distributing it, got caught, was chained to a rock, lost his liver to a huge ugly bird and was rescued by Hercules. Leveraging his fame, Prometheus started Fire Enterprises Inc.  (FEI). Since fire was the hottest technology of the time, company success came fast and furious. Two generations later, fire isn't such an easy sale. Now led by Prometheus' grandson Org, FEI's growth is non-existent, competitors are pounding and prices are in the toilet.

Want to Sell More to Customers? Try Surveys

Last week, FEI marketing whiz Marka showed savvy salesperson Zoot how to calculate the effectiveness of FEI’s customer loyalty program. This week, Marka talks about another way that FEI can gain more share-of-customer—customer survey outreach. Remember, fire = print.

Zoot and Marka had just finished a delicious midday snack at Grapeleaf Yogurt in the nearby Pallas Mall. As Zoot wiped a gummy bear off his lip, a Grapeleaf employee set two customer surveys down on their table.

“Thanks for coming in today! We’d appreciate if you could take just a minute to let us know how we did,” she said with a smile.

Once the employee had left, Zoot raised a hairy eyebrow. “This is good stuff. It may be simple, but this survey makes me feel like Grapeleaf really does care about improving my customer experience.”

“Sound like something FEI could do?” Marka asked.

“Hmm…” Zoot pretended to be deep in thought. “Yeah, I think so.”

“Customer surveys can provide us with key insights about what we’re doing right,” Marka said. “They can also give us actionable data about what—and how—we can improve.”

“Surveys are proactive,” Marka continued. “They show customers we’re not just resting on our laurels. Many times, a company doesn’t know anything’s wrong with a customer relationship until that customer leaves. And most of the time, whatever was wrong could’ve been easily corrected. Customer surveys will help us identify our weak points and improve them—before it’s too late.”

“I’m concerned these surveys might have a response bias,” Zoot said. “Customers who want to take a survey generally fall into two camps: those who love us and those who have a serious gripe. Won’t this yield skewed results?”

“That’s a good point, Zoot,” Marka acknowledged. “Consider what Grapeleaf just did. You like froyo, but I wouldn’t call you a rabid fan. If they hadn’t shoved that survey under your nose, you probably wouldn’t have bothered with it. But you did.”

“To attract a balanced base of responders, we have to aggressively promote these surveys,” Zoot suggested.

“That’s right,” Marka said. “We can bring these surveys to trade shows at which we exhibit. You can bring them on sales calls, or include them with deliveries. We can give them to customers waiting in our lobby. Pushing these surveys out to our customers will help minimize the problematic selection bias.”

“Won’t some of our customers have trouble being honest?” Zoot asked. “Especially if I’m right in front of them asking the questions.”

“Also a valid concern,” Marka agreed. “We could enlist a third-party to give these surveys on our behalf. We could allow people to respond anonymously, but then we won’t know how satisfied specific customers are and we want to know that.”

“Blind surveys can be valuable because they allow customers to respond honestly without fear of damaging the relationship,” Zoot pointed out. “Many busy restaurant clients work with our runners practically every day. Many of them won’t feel comfortable criticizing our runners’ performances unless anonymity can be assured.

“Maybe we could blind responses from certain industries only, or offer ‘partial-blind’ surveys where only the person’s name is blinded. We should discuss this and carefully weigh the pros-and-cons before proceeding,” he added.

“Another solution is to distribute these surveys by email, social media or even direct mail,” Marka said. “People are more likely to be candid when they’re not face-to-face with you or anyone else at FEI, even if they know we’ll be reading their responses.”

Marka and Zoot tossed their empty cups in the trash and headed out back into the mall walkway. “This segues nicely into what I want to talk about next,” Marka continued. “The methods we can use to distribute our survey.”

“I think we should go to Olive Burger for that one,” Zoot said, rubbing his belly.

Today’s FIRE! Point

Customer surveys are an excellent way to determine what your company’s doing right. They can also tell you what—and how—to improve you. Plus, customers always appreciate the attention and the commitment to proactive improvement of your products and services.

FIRE! in Action: Gem Affair Uses Customer Surveys to Grow Sales
A five-question survey allowed the jewelry company to capture customer feedback, which Gem Affair used to make key changes to its product line and website. The result of these changes: a 4.5-percent increase in sales the next year.

Next week: Marka gives Zoot an overview of different survey contact methods, including the advantages and potential challenges of each.


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