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Preserve revenue, grow client share & get referrals

Aug 1, 2009 12:00 AM

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Many printers are reluctant to implement a surveying process with customers because they don't want to badger them with junk e-mail or call them on the phone at the wrong time.

Those that conduct mailings get low response rates, only get good comments and stop surveying customers regularly. You do need to be careful not to over survey your customers, but a short, personal, inviting survey positioned properly is a loyalty builder and well received by customers. It doesn't replace phone calls or visits, but it is an excellent way to keep lines of communication open and show you care.

E-mailed surveys, done properly, respect your customers' time, give them time to reflect on your relationship before answering, and represent the easiest and lowest cost way to stay connected and understand your customer loyalty across your customer base and with each customer. To obtain 20% to 30% response rates continuously, you must manage the frequency of the surveys sent to each customer. For short-run printers with an average order size of a few hundred dollars, I would suggest surveying everyone after every job because they don't come around again for a while. More traditional, highly relationship-based printers who have more daily or weekly repeat buyers should not survey customers more than once a month. The MIS systems out there such as Enterprise, Printer's Plus, and Printer's Plan capture and list the “last survey date” to help manage survey frequency for repeat buyers. For other MIS systems, just exporting the shipment records once a month helps manage frequency.

The gold is in the comments

Typically 25% of all print buyers will share their comments explaining what you do well and what you stink at. Reading those comments, calling customers and thanking them builds loyalty and keeps them coming back. Most printers miss the opportunity to expand client share with surveying. Be proactive and 10% to 15% of respondents will become sales leads for more business. Even a 3% response to a question asking for referrals can make the survey worthwhile. The key to surveying is to make it a process, not an event. Map out a process that takes 5 minutes a week to administer and then keep at it to drive your business.

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.

How will print buyers respond to post-job surveys e-mailed to them?
20-30% will fill them out
25% give comments about their answers
10-15% share other services bought elsewhere.
3% share a referral or a good sales lead