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Just ask for the order

Jul 1, 2009 12:00 AM

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Surveying always is considered a passive or reactive effort. You ask your customers how you did, get some positive feedback, and the team feels good. After a month, the process stops because of lack of results.

Bad move. Typically 90-95% of your surveys will be positive, so why not leverage this with referral programs and asking for more business? I am not saying to turn your customer satisfaction survey into a marketing survey, but one simple question can uncover opportunties to sell more. It is not uncommon to receive a 30% response rate on short surveys after jobs are shipped, and to have 10% of respondents tell you they are interested in speaking about things they don't buy from you. Maybe they buy mailing services, graphic design, or large-format printing from someone else and never considered you or did not know you offered it.

Here is a list of things to consider when you are surveying customers:

  1. Jump on the 5% that are not happy. Either fire those customers if it is not a fit, or make it right. You must do something fast with these responses.

  2. Don't ignore the 82% who tell you they are very likely to recommend you. They are your best source of referrals. They will refer if you ask them the right way.

  3. Engage the 10-15% who are just “likely” to recommend. This group can become best customers and grow with you or they can start to check out. Ask them what you need to do to get that highest rating. They will tell you.

  4. Keep the client share expansion opportunities in front of you and your sales team. These are the best opportunities for growth. The example here is from a customer interested in mailing services. Jump on it and make sure someone doesn't let this fall through the cracks.

It is amazing how many times I review leads like this example, in which a customer checked a box indicating a need for mailing services, and find out no one knows what the status is. Sometimes the team doesn't know how to approach the customer after seeing a survey like this.

This is like hitting a softball. Pursue it. Closing an existing customer with a new service is easier than going after a brand new prospect. Surveys should preserve recurring job revenues and generate sales leads. Don't limit your results.

Michael Casey is president and founder of Survey Advantage ( He is a strategic partner with NAPL supporting its consulting and research practices, he integrates project surveying with MIS systems and he is an approved supplier for several franchise networks.