Sometimes, you need all the information you can about something and then you act on what you have. This is the Jack Bauer approach, which works for him. On the other hand, in dealing with customers and considering how you can get the most value out of the relationship you need what Eric Groves, Senior Vice President of Global Markets calls “drip intelligence”.
He writes more about this in the following guest column.
In today’s challenging economy, it’s more important than ever to gather regular feedback from your customers.
Doing so will help make it possible to do more than simply survive in a recession. If you are a good entrepreneur and a smart marketer you can actually thrive in periods of adversity, thanks to the ability of most small businesses to move nimbly, respond quickly to market changes, and re-orient their businesses based on changing conditions. While changing directions for large corporations can be a bit like turning a battleship, small businesses are the speed boats that can react more quickly to changes in customer needs, perceptions, and behaviors. That gives you a huge advantage to stay vital and stay ahead of the competition. But you can only make real-time adjustments to your business if you have information on what your customers are thinking and feeling right now.
To gather this important information, start by asking your customers for it directly. This constant flow of feedback is called “drip intelligence” – small, though regular, bites of usable information that an entrepreneur can use to gain constant insight into his or her business and market. If the right questions are asked, drip intelligence provides information that is easily actionable, timely, and will give you a leg up against your competition.
By simply including one customer feedback question in every email newsletter you send, you can gather the “drip intelligence” needed to make an impact. Below is a step-by-step example of how it might work:
Four Questions That Take Your Customer’s Pulse
If you’re publishing a quarterly email newsletter, plan on including a question once per quarter. If your email newsletter goes out on a monthly basis, include a link to your question in each issue and then start the cycle over again the following month, repeating each of the four questions in sequence. Compare your results to the first communication and be sure to track the answers and the changes in the answers over time.
Your customer’s perception of the products/services you provide
Q. What is your overall level of satisfaction with our products/services?
Provide single select multiple choice answer options – highly satisfied, somewhat satisfied, neutral, somewhat dissatisfied, highly dissatisfied.
Be sure to include a comment box along with each of your questions so people can explain why they rated you as they did.
Your customer’s perception of your approachability
Q. If you had a need for the services that we provide, how likely would you be to turn to us first?
Provide single select multiple choice answer options – highly likely, somewhat likely, neutral, somewhat unlikely, highly unlikely.
Your customer’s propensity to tell others about you
Q. How likely is it that you would recommend us to a friend or colleague?
Rating scale – Very likely, somewhat likely, neutral, somewhat unlikely, very unlikely
Ways to provide even better service
Q: How can we provide better service? Please provide suggestions for improving our products/services.
Include a text box to allow for answers.
Start over again at question #1
Once you have your results, be sure to follow up with your customers to thank them for their feedback. Your customers will be happy to learn that you appreciated their thoughts, took their feedback to heart and are not only listening but acting based on what they said. And be sure to let them know how other survey respondents, who shared their concerns, answered the questions.
It is imperative to write really good content that speaks to your customers’ wants and needs. The more you know about their interests, the more you can tailor the content of your email marketing communications to hit on the topics of most importance to them at that specific point in time.
As the economy changes, so will your customers’ answers to survey questions. Track these changes and make adjustments that help your business stay vital, current, in touch with customers and ahead of the competition.
Always remember, in difficult economic times, consumers would much rather buy from a business that cares about their needs and that they have a good relationship with than from one they don’t. Keep their pulse. Keep their business. Don’t settle for survival. Thrive.