Periodically, it makes sense to address your customer feedback mechanisms and receive some actionable, lived-experience insight into your operation’s strengths and weaknesses. Business leaders need to learn if the delivery of products, services, or other operational processes might be simplified. They need to know what customers would like to see more of. The smartest way to begin the customer feedback process is to decide what you want to know and what purpose that information will serve.
Are you trying to develop new products or services, so that you’ll be able to give customers what they want before they know they want it? Or is business dwindling and you’re in damage control mode, attempting to win back customers? Some market research questions are best explored face-to-face with customers at a conference table with a leadership team member or two and maybe a front-line staff member present as well.
Below are five draft survey questions for you to customize. Some apply to customers and others, to company leaders:
1. What challenges or goals motivate customers to contact your business?
2. What solutions to customer problems is your organization equipped to supply?
3. What solutions are offered now? Might you add, re-tool, or drop any?
4. What do customers most often hire you to provide or do?
5. What do you (the business leaders) do next?
Questions 1 and 4 pertain to customers. Questions 2, 3 and 5 refer to business strategy and should be addressed in-house, once you’ve spoken with two or more customers to figure out Questions 1 and 4.
How you conduct the survey deserves some thought. It might be best for Solopreneurs and small business owners to convene a group interview that encourages comfortable and candid conversation. Larger companies might prefer to host a survey interview that’s facilitated by an outside market research firm.
Question 1: What are the primary challenges facing (the customer’s) organization?
Start with a “How are things going in your office?” question, or inquire about their next big project or objective (whether or not it would involve your organization). Find out what’s going on and let the customers talk.
Questions 2 & 3: Which project or problem do you most want to take action on? How might that be done?
Given your in-house expertise and resources and guided by the probability that the customer will contact your business to provide needed solutions, what additional customer projects might you be asked to take on (or what can you cleverly position your business to be hired to do)?
Can your organization successfully deliver the desired outcomes of projects that are on your customers’ to-do lists? Can you discover how your customers are currently managing those challenges? Do your customers do business with any of your direct competitors? Do your customers have projects that are not getting resolved because s/he isn’t sure what to do, or there’s no budget to do the job?
Question 4: Have our company’s solutions satisfactorily resolved customer needs or challenges?
What projects have you been hired to do, or what products and services have been purchased by survey participants? What types of projects is your organization most often hired to do, or what are the best-selling products and services? How do customers feel about your company’s performance—is your ability to deliver services trusted and dependable? Do customers send referrals to your business? Does it seem that you could potentially receive more business from any of your customers?
Question 5: What do you do next, based on customer responses?
Here is the judgment call for you and your team. The success of the survey is in how you interpret the data received. What can your organization realistically do, based on the customer responses to Questions 1 and 4? Are there opportunities and strengths within your organization on which you might capitalize, as noted in questions 2, 3 and 5? What needs to be improved or discontinued?
Within a week of the survey, tangibly thank your customers for participating. You may want to send a gift basket, or offer a 15% discount on their next order.
Thanks for reading,