Coined by Sally Field in 1985, the infamous (and actually misquoted) “like me” line was delivered when she won an academy award for her performance in Places in the Heart. This saying is also true for many SMB owners who tell me that their customers choose them “because they like our amazing customer service”, or “our quick response times” or “our knowledge of the business”.
It’s not surprising that no matter how long a SMB has been in business, the business owner feels they know their customers well. However, what is surprising is that many of these business owners will defend how well they know their customers based on a “gut” feeling or “years dealing with their customers”, but only a few of them can actually validate their claims. When there are literally thousands of choices for customers to choose from, your company really needs to understand not just who they are, but who your customers are and why they would choose to buy from you versus your competitors.
The best method I recommend SMB owners use to help them better understand their customers is to create a customer survey. It shouldn’t be more than 10 questions that your customer can easily answer, and it will help you determine why they have chosen your service/product. Here are a few tips on what should be on your survey to help your business get the best insights and results:
- Type of Questions – The questions should be mostly open-ended. You are looking for as much data as you can get, so you don’t want a simple “yes” or “no” answer.
- Professionalism – The survey needs to be professionally written and laid-out.
- Delivery – Offer this survey online via a private landing page, or as a direct email to clients as an interactive PDF. If your customer base is small, make personal calls or better yet, make the survey part of your client meetings.
- Incentive – Depending on how difficult you feel it may be to get customers to fill out your survey, you may want to offer some sort of incentive, such as the first 15 customers to reply will win a $25 gift certificate.
- Appreciation – Once you know a customer has filled in the survey, you need to establish a mechanism for saying thank you.
- End Date – Make sure you provide an end date for the survey so you can analyze the results.
- Provide Timely Feedback and Actionable Items – Once you have analyzed the results of the survey, share the top-level results with your clients in a timely manner. Make a point to note how their input has helped you better serve them by outlining some actionable items.
- Communicate – As the actionable items are completed, make a point to communicate it to your customers so they feel “heard”. This communication validates that you care about their opinion, which in turn builds loyalty.
In marketing, if you want them to “like you”, you need to spend the time to find out why they do, so you can build marketing strategies that target their needs.
Do you feel it is critical to your marketing success to understand your customer? Have you ever conducted a formal customer survey? If so, what advantage did this give you in the marketplace? If not, what other methods do you use to ascertain what your customers want? I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.