Monday, December 2, 2013

Survey Customers to Learn about Their Wants, Likes, and Needs

Over the past couple of months, I’ve spoken to audiences of small business owners and during my presentations I’ve stressed the importance of learning about their customers’ needs, wants, interests, etc.

Certainly, I understand the number of responsibilities that a small business owner has and that sometimes the staff is overwhelmed, but how will you know what products to continue to offer, which new product categories to investigate, and whether consumers like your store’s layout and design if you don’t ask them?

I would encourage you, even during this busy time of the retail year, to start learning about your customers, or reacquaint yourself with their preferences and behaviors, by asking them certain questions.  Most likely you have a standard set of questions that you ask to help build a rapport with visitors, but also consider creating a survey that could capture their responses and that you can refer to from time to time.   Begin the process by involving customers on your mail and email lists and those enrolled in your loyalty program.  If you own a tasting room, include questions on your wine club enrollment form or offer to wave the tasting fee if customers fill out a short survey.

             Before stocking something new, ask customers if they would be interested in buying the products.
In a previous post, Learning Directly From Your Customers, I described some techniques for conducting focus group session, but don’t forget that you will want responses from a larger group of consumers to make actual business decisions.  Therefore, consider collecting survey responses via the Internet.  Aside from posting questions on your website and on your Facebook business page, you could conduct an online survey using one of the many tools available: SurveyMonkey.com, Zoomerang.com, and SurveyGizmo.com. 

These and other online survey programs allow users to collect a limited number of responses for free with more features available when an annual subscription is purchased.  Don’t forget to direct customers to the survey by sending links to it in emails, incorporating the link into your webpage, or posting and promoting it on your Facebook business page and in tweets. 

In next week’s post I will provide some examples of questions that you might ask your customers.

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