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Managing a Business

Why you Should Survey Your Customers

As a small business owner, are you spending a lot of time guessing about your products and services?

You might make educated guesses based on the data you have, but you might find there’s still a lot of uncertainty involved. For example, you can tap into website visitor analytics, purchasing patterns and other data to try to figure out how to improve sales and conversion rates. But what do you do after that? Take guesses on what to change?
If you’re not sure how to improve your business to maximize sales and customer retention, we have a solution for you. Customer surveys provide excellent data you can use to push your business to the next level.

Ask Your Customers

Google Analytics offers great insight into how your website performs and your customers’ actions on your site. However, analytics data is limited, and it can’t help you understand how your products or services compare to the competition. Google Analytics also can’t indicate whether or not a new product or service is needed. To get that kind of information, there’s no replacement for direct feedback from your customers.
user selecting a happy face on a survey
The good news is that most people love to offer their opinions and will gladly respond to a simple customer survey.

What You Can Learn

Here are some things you can find out by surveying your audience:

  • Find out if a new product/service is needed. Sometimes great ideas for expanding a business come when a customer provides feedback. Most customers won’t give unsolicited advice, so asking them for feedback on what products or services will help them is a great way to grow a product line.
  • Understand what customers will pay for. How many times have you come up with a new idea that you think will make a lot of money, only to find that customers won’t pay for it? A survey can ask how interested a customer is in a certain product and how much value they’d attach to it.

Consider a dry cleaning business that’s considering adding a pick-up and delivery service. A survey could ask how much extra customers are willing to pay for a service like this. If the business determines that the break-even point is $10 per delivery but most people say they will pay less than $5, then the business should rethink its plans.

  • Get better demographic data. Imagine what you could do if you knew the typical age, gender, and location of your customers. What if you knew that customers tend to read a particular publication or they all watch the evening news? Knowing this type of information can help with future advertising and marketing efforts, as well as modifying your offerings.
  • Scope out the competition. You might have data about the sales you’ve made, but what about the ones that go elsewhere? Using the above example, perhaps the dry cleaner’s customers use multiple companies depending on which part of town they happen to be in that day. Although these customers won’t pay much for a pick-up and delivery service, they will be loyal to a dry cleaner that offers this convenience for free. That’s the type of insight you can get in a survey.
  • Check up on your customer support. Unhappy customers rarely take the time to make amends with a business; they just switch to a competitor. Surveys are a great way to find out if your customers are satisfied with your support before you lose them to your arch rival.

How to Get Customers to Participate

Many people like to give feedback and to have someone value their opinion. Still, it helps to give a little nudge to increase survey participation. Providing some sort of incentive will elicit responses from dissatisfied or casual customers. After all, a survey is useless if only the company’s happiest customers participate.
The incentive doesn’t have to be expensive. A raffle to win a gift card usually does the trick. Thanks to the Internet, micro-gift cards are easy to buy, so a business could offer each participant a free coffee at Starbucks.

Creating a Survey

There are clear merits to surveying customers, but how does a business get started?
person filling out a survey
Thankfully, there are a lot of online surveying tools business owners can use. The most well-known survey tool is SurveyMonkey. SurveyMonkey offers a free limited version of its service, but most people will find that they need to choose the paid option due to the limitations of the free product. It can get expensive in a hurry, and a company that only needs to run occasional surveys might not find it worth the expense.
Google offers a fairly powerful surveying tool as part of its Google Forms product. Best of all, it’s free! In a future post, we’ll show how to use Google Forms to create a survey.
Have we convinced you to create a survey for your customers? Fantastic! Before you get started, you’ll need to make sure you have a dedicated email address for your business so you don’t get responses sent to your personal email account. Namecheap offers Private Email hosting that can connect to your domain and give your email the professional touch.

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Andrew Allemann avatar

Andrew Allemann

Andrew is the founder and editor of Domain Name Wire, a publication that has been covering domain names since 2005. He has personally written over 10,000 posts covering domain name sales, policy, and strategies for domain name owners. Andrew has been quoted in stories about domain names in The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times and Fortune. More articles written by Andrew.

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