This weekend I ventured out of the house alone for some quiet time and found myself in Borders with a cup of coffee and a stack of magazines. The magazines ranged from those for small business owners to those written for working mothers. This week I´ll share some information that I found in each magazine.
The first article that caught my eye was about things that a person can do to make sure her home business is successful. The usual advice was listed: write a business plan, create high quality products, and invest a lot of time in the planning stages. And then the author listed something that I haven´t seen mentioned a lot: obtain customer feedback.
I´ve actually been considering this a lot lately, since I have noticed during my own shopping that oftentimes a business overlooks this step. They develop products, write business plans, and make sure their prices are competitive. Then the product is sold and the customer is forgotten unless she calls to complain.
Yet as small business owners, we rely on customers to keep us afloat. If we don´t know how the customers feel about the products that we are selling, be it good or bad, how can we expect to make them better?
Though the feedback might at times be painful, it is a necessary step in owning a business. If we want to succeed, we have to know what the customers think.
In a later post I´ll discuss creating a survey for the customers by listing certain questions that should be included on a form. Today I´ll discuss the ways in which you can contact the customer after the purchase has been made.
Telephone surveys are wonderful because you will speak to a live person who is using the product. The drawback? Finding the best time to call, as many people work during the day and spend time with their family at night.
First, you can place a stamped postcard in the customer´s bag and hope that the customer takes a moment to fill it out after using your product for several days or weeks. While this is somewhat convenient for the customer, as the postcard has been stamped and all she has to do is fill it out and send it in, the postcard might get misplaced or forgotten during that time. You should follow up with a telephone call if you haven´t received the input after several weeks.
You can also send a postcard to the customer´s home several weeks after the product has been purchased and ask that the customer call you back with their feedback. However this requires that your business have a toll free phone number, as you can´t expect the customer to pay for the phone call.
Lastly, you can mail a letter and a stamped postcard to the home several weeks after the purchase. In the letter, thank the customer for purchasing the item. Print the survey questions on the postcard and ask that it be sent back. The drawback is, of course, the expense.
Email the customer a survey and ask the customer to respond. This method is free and quick, and if you don´t get a response the first time, you can easily send a follow up.
Using a customer survey form on your website is another free way to obtain customer feedback. However, the customer will have to log onto your website after the purchase of your product in order to give his feedback. Therefore, you might need to use an alternative method, such as an email, to remind the customer to send in her feedback.