June 21, 2011|Checkbox Blog, News, Survey Trends & Best Practices|

Customer Satisfaction. Voice of the Customer. Customer Feedback. Consumer Loyalty. If you haven’t been inundated by these terms while conducting business, perusing the business section of your favorite publication, or even scanning today’s Twitter feed, well, you frankly must live in a bubble.

We all know how critical customer satisfaction and loyalty is to the success and sustainability of our businesses. We know that keeping customers happy and loyal is far more efficient that attracting new ones and that happy customers spread the word and help us grow.

But as important as it is to gather customer opinions and react to their issues and concerns, too often organizations allow feedback from current customers to be the driving force behind business decisions, product development, and marketing efforts. They focus on “How do we keep our current customers happy?” rather than “How do we attract and retain new customers?” or “What are the main reasons we’re losing customers to the competition?” A disproportionately narrow focus on current customer satisfaction versus new customer attraction will, in a best case scenario, lead to stagnation of  product and service development efforts. Current customers are safe – they already purchased from you and they’re easy to approach and survey. And keeping them satisfied and coming back by giving them what they ask for makes us feel like everything is in balance and as it should be.

The problem is, businesses don’t grow to their full potential by satisfying and building products and service offerings only for their current customer base. Focusing too much on the people who have already purchased from you means missing incredibly valuable feedback from the ones that walked away. If you really want to see your business thrive, you need to be asking yourself “Why didn’t they buy?”, “Why did they choose someone else?” or “Why didn’t they even consider us?” I would argue that this feedback is far more critical to the success of your business than survey results from your current customers because it fosters change, innovation and calculated risk taking, all of which are essential to growth. The personas, needs, and requirements of  your lost customers and potential customers should be the stuff that keeps you up at night. Yes, listen to your current customers, deliver excellent service and keep them loyal, but don’t allow their needs and wants to get in the way of delivering products and services that are more innovative and far-reaching.

So how do you get this feedback? Shouting from the rooftops or putting a link on your Facebook page asking for feedback from the people that rejected you probably won’t cut it. So you need to get a little creative and ask for a lot of diligence from your sales and marketing teams. For leads that you’ve contacted and lost, the simplest method of gathering feedback  is just to ask for it directly. Once  a lead is deemed lost or unresponsive, use your sales team or your CRM to trigger an email with a very brief (2-4) question survey asking why they didn’t purchase, who they purchased from, and what were the most important factors that impacted their purchase decision. Feedback from lost leads is notoriously difficult to gather, but it’s so valuable that it’s well worth the effort and the frustration. Don’t treat it lightly – remember that you’ve spent money nurturing these leads just to lose out to someone else, so listen very closely as to why.

Then there are the potential customers that visit your web site but leave before filling out any forms or otherwise converting into a lead. How do you reach them for feedback? You have to get a little more creative here. You might try embedding polls in your site that allow visitors to vote on potential new product features or attributes without leaving any personal information. You can also share these polls through social media to broaden your reach. Or if you have a couple offerings to choose from, use a “Let us help you choose” survey on your site that gathers information on the visitor’s requirements and then directs them to customized landing pages based on their responses. This not only allows you to gather valuable feedback on what they’re looking for, but also drives lead conversion by helping them find the best offering to meet their needs.

It will likely take some time and trial and error to find the methods of gathering potential and lost customer feedback that yield quality results and work for your organization, but it’s work that will pay huge dividends when it comes to keeping your business relevant, competitive, and thriving.



To learn how Checkbox Survey can help you with your online feedback initiatives, please visit www.checkbox.com/features/overview.