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Friday, December 14, 2007

The uncompleted client survey

This image is from the Resources -- Client Surveys page of the website from Conceptual Construction and Design, Inc. in Denver, Colorado. I don't know how well their surveys work -- but will ask them!

After we published the December issues of our newspapers in Ontario and North Carolina, I sent out 60 five-question client surveys to our advertisers. I deliberately kept the survey short, and sought to ask very brief questions that, ideally, would provide the kinds of insights to indicate whether we are doing things right. I also offered respectful opportunities for feedback and comment -- and avoided the horrendous multi-page, dozens of complex question surveys that rightfully no one in their right mind would answer.

Our response to date. Nothing. Zero. Nada. Zip. Some people who read the email opened the survey questionnaire, but none completed it.

Hmm, why is this happening, and what can I do about it?

First, I'm cautious -- I think the one thing I find more irritating to a conventional telemarketing call, is a survey call. I simply decline to participate in ALL phone surveys, no matter what (I suppose if my best customer asked me to participate, I would, but I certainly would not be interested in responding if I was the customer.) On a consumer level, this issue reared its head when I purchased a new car a few years ago. The sales rep told me the survey call would happen, and if I could put in a good word it would help. Besides feeling this was somewhat fake, I simply hate phone surveys. So No.

Alright, but here I was using a simple online survey. And I will complete these, if they are simple, and I feel strongly about things, either good or bad. If good, it doesn't hurt to share the good news. If bad, I've learned through experience that the well-run business will get the word, and make good!

So, does that mean the fact that no one responded that we didn't do anything great, but didn't do anything really bad? Like, kind of mediocre? Maybe. Maybe not. I just don't know. With absolutely no response, I can't measure anything, except that no one responded.

This raises some important questions, because the books I am reading emphasise the importance of metrics -- in measuring our data and determining success -- but if the measurement process is intrusive or inconvenient, what are we really learning. And if no one responds to a non-intrusive survey, how can we know what is happening?

Usually in this blog, I'm ready to offer advice and suggestions. But this one has me stumped, so far. I'll read and do some research and share whatever findings I can discover in future issues. But if you have some thoughts, please let me know. I can send you the survey I just tried. You can respond by the comment function or by email to


Sonny Lykos said...

No responses is really funny. I say that because an exceptional business owner wants to taylor his/her business to the desires of their customers. But if the customer doesn't even respond to "How can we serve you better." one must, our of exasperation, throw his hands up, and is tempted to say to himself: "Then screw you!" Tempting, but then you'd be sabotaging your own business.

Sooooo, perhaps the best route for a small business would be face to face discussions, or even during normal phone or personal talks about other issues. It takes only a very few minutes to ask "How can our company serve yours better" and get concrete replies. Or and advisory board partially membered by said customers.

Construction Marketing Ideas said...

Excellent points, Sonny. I think part of the issue here is that most of the ads (outside of ongoing contract advertisers) are developed through third party relationships; either they are suppliers to a company/project being profiled, or association members. Of course, they still have become our clients, and they deserve great service.
Informal conversations of course are helpful; but calling 'en mass' results in a telemarketer-script type communication which, to me, is a really yukky form of intrusion.