“This is exactly what my customers want. I think.”
Has that phrase ever run through your head? I know a lot of businesses that, while quite successful, still don’t know exactly what their customers want or exactly what they need. Learning what clients are after is a good way for any business to increase revenue and build better client relationships.
The question is this: how does a business find out what clients need? The answer is fairly obvious: ask them! Of course, asking somebody face to face will get you different results than asking them anonymously, which is why sending a survey is a really great way to find out what your clients are really thinking about your company and your services. At StorageCraft, we’ve gathered some really interesting research in the past, which means we have some tips to share about sending a successful survey.
Note that sending a questionnaire to clients is helpful for companies of all sizes. Just because you’re small doesn’t mean you can’t learn and improve.
Now, the first thing you need to know is what you want to ask your clients.
I’d love to give you some specific questions to use, but the information you need may differ from another person reading this, so we’ll just look at a few things you might want to discover. Also, remember that since the answers are supposed to be anonymous, you’ll likely have to gather some general information first so you know things like what size of client you’re talking to and so forth. This info will be helpful in the “gathering stats” section below.
Some things you might want to find out are:
- How many employees does your client have?
- How many servers do they have in production?
- How many desktops do they have?
- How satisfied are your clients with your work?
- Are there any needs your clients feel are not being addressed?
- If clients can offer any specific suggestions or criticisms, what would they be?
- Are there additional service clients might be interested in, and if so, which? (E.g. offsite backups, print services, mobile support, etc.)
- Do clients feel they are getting a good value for the price they’re paying?
This is just a short list to give you an idea of what you might be trying to find out, just remember that when you’re formulating questions, you don’t want questions that lead respondents to answer a certain way. Leading questions won’t get you the data you’re after.
You probably don’t need anything fancy to get what you’re after. Luckily, there are a couple of free, easy-to-use survey tools that let you send a survey and analyze the data for free.
Google Forms- Google has plenty of hidden secrets and one of them is Google Forms. If you’ve got a Gmail or a Google account, this is baked right into your Google experience. You can access the forms either by logging into your Google Docs account (if you have Gmail, you have Docs), clicking New then Form or by typing in forms.google.com to get there directly. You can choose a theme, use various question types, and create a link you can send out to those you hope will take your survey (if they’re already in your Gmail contacts list, you can send directly from there)—it couldn’t be easier. Google automatically collects the responses as a spreadsheet that can easily be shared, reviewed, or even transferred to Excel. As far as I can tell, there are no limits to how many people you can survey, or how many questions you can ask.
Survey Monkey- Survey Monkey is another free utility that lets you send up to ten questions to up to one hundred people for each survey. Like with Google Forms, Survey Monkey allows you to create surveys and easily collect the data, though it doesn’t allow you to print survey results or export to Excel, unless you upgrade to the premium versions, which are really what make the monkey shine. They cost a bit more, but allow you to send to an unlimited number of questions to an unlimited number of people and unlock useful features that aren’t available through the free version or through Google Forms.
In most cases, one of the above two survey tools will be all you need. They’re both free, and both very simple, so just choose one you like.
If you send regular business emails, you no doubt know about CAN-SPAM, which governs the methods by which businesses are allowed to message consumers. If you’ve never heard of CAN-SPAM and you’re planning on sending a survey to a large number of people, you’ll definitely want to review the CAN-SPAM guidelines so that you’re fully compliant before moving onto the next section.
Sending the Survey
You’ve probably already got the email addresses of anybody you want to take this survey (assuming it’s geared towards existing clients), so put your send list together. Using either of the above tools, you can get a URL to paste inside of an email that will take respondents to the survey page. In the email itself, make your intentions clear and note that it’s an anonymous survey. Urge respondents to be honest in their answers so that you can continue to improve the service they are already receiving. If you send the survey and get few responses, don’t be afraid to remind them to take it with a follow up email a week or so later.
The most important thing about conducting a survey is going through the data you receive. Make sure you not only look at the basic responses, but pay attention to trends within responses. For example (and this is purely hypothetical), you might see a trend in that your smaller clients are actually more interested in mobile support than larger ones, or that larger ones are far more interested in offsite backups. There’s an awful lot you can find out about your clients and their interests that you can use moving forward. It’s always helpful to know what types of businesses are buying what types of services and solutions so you can understand which you should target—and how you should target them—in the future.
When it comes to surveys, you might receive some negative responses. Nobody likes criticisms, but it’s important to take them seriously. Part of the purpose of this survey is to find out how you can improve as a business, and to learn what you might be doing better because knowing how to change is the first step towards actually being better. Once you identify things you can fix, you’ve got to work towards changing them.
Additionally, you might find out that clients are interested in services that aren’t yet getting, which is your opportunity to start providing them. If there’s a service your company doesn’t yet provide, but you see a lot of demand for it, it might be something to work towards doing in the near future.
Surveys are easy to put together, send, and analyze, though they do take some time. The valuable insights you can find from them far outweigh the effort involved in conducting one, so give it a try if you’re interested in finding out what your clients really think, and how you can improve.