Business owners, CEOs, and marketing executives are under increasing pressure to retain customers and grow revenue in an increasingly competitive economic environment.
Standard marketing strategies and techniques are effective and one tactic that often gets overlooked is surveys geared to your customer base.
Customer surveys not only provide a variety of insights about your product or service but also your sales staff, service department, general operations and even your “on the street” reputation.
These surveys are used frequently, if not constantly, by companies selling consumer products and services. However many who sell goods to other businesses (B2B firms) often overlook this fundamental component of market research or simply do not understand its effectiveness as a business tool.
Based on three decades of work with businesses, Fortune corporations and a variety of organizations, experience demonstrates these surveys can be beneficial in a number of ways.
They provide real nuggets about your business operation and areas for improvement. You may learn your sales department is not performing as well as perceived or your company seems to be lagging in response time to customer problems. Perhaps four of your five sales people are loved by your customers but one “bad apple” could be causing some serious problems. Products could be arriving a day or two later than promised. Technicians may be well versed in a number of areas but lacking in others despite all the training you provide. The information can indicate overall strengths and weaknesses and helps you establish a baseline for better performance.
Do customers get your message? Do they see your advertising, visit your website, and/or read your sales brochures? Customers can tell you which publications, general and trade, are most important to them. They can indicate what online sites they visit and if they value social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Clients can tell you if your website is up-to-par and if they gain valuable information by reading it. Often the best thought-out strategy may miss the target because the proper research was not done ahead of time.
A business owner may learn they are only getting a third of a customer’s budget due to a perceived strength by a direct competitor(s). He/she may find out they are thought to be “weak” in an area perceived to be a strong company selling position when, in reality, they are getting out flanked by superior sales and marketing by the competition. Clients may reveal what other competitors are saying about your firm and if there is some measure of credibility in those statements.
Dozens of new products and services are hatched from new suggestions or needs voiced by customers. A survey can indicate what these needs are. The information can help provide the impetus to develop, launch and sell a product or service to meet those demands. It can help give the company the “first-in’ sales and marketing advantage and a huge edge on the competition.
Customer surveys reveal more than what clients like and dislike about your company. They enable you to make adjustments whether it be in sales, service or distribution. The information can be used to discard products and services that are not resonating with the trade market and add new items immediately, or in the future. The surveys provide valuable input for the future growth of your business, all from the people who matter most, your customers.