By Joshua Lucas
Issue # 5
Wednesday, April 1, 1998
TABLE OF CONTENTS
For the past two weeks, we have been following Bill and his journey to
build a successful web site. Even though he hasnt put one piece of text
online, in order for his site to be both practical and effective, Bill has been busy researching his competition and learning more about his customers. But it's not enough to "know" his customers, he needs to anticipate their expectations and desires when designing the web site. Bill needs more information. He needs to do some surveys.
Used correctly, the survey is a very powerful tool for any business to use. It can give direct insight into what customers are thinking and feeling. Unfortunately, the survey can be detrimental if it isnt well thought
out. In order to better understand the use of surveys,
lets ask some questions about your plans.
The first question is, What more do you need to know about
your customers? Youve been listening to your customers more closely
but now you need to know more about their habits and thoughts.
This is a perfect opportunity for a survey because you can hone in on
topics that you might otherwise not be able to bring up in an one-to-one
situation with a customer.
For example, here are some "true and false" questions you might ask, that wouldn't work well in a conversation;
If I had a question about a product, I feel comfortable asking for
I am looking for a product not necessarily for help (T/F)
I know what I'm doing with tools so I need a quick turnaround and
get back to work. (T/F)
Be careful not to get too "greedy" with your surveys.
There is no
need to try to ask every question you want to know the answer to in the
first survey. Spread them out so that you can have a continual stream
of information coming in from your customers. But be careful. You can easily overwhelm your customers if they are asked to
answer a new survey every time they come into the business.
Another question which needs to be asked is, In what format will the
surveys be? Will they be online or will you pass them out in your
"Lucas, Joshua Lucas". . .writes for a living. By day he writes software, and by night he weaves words. Josh has coded in Java, C, C++, and Perl for some of the hippest and most recognizable companies in the US, including The Gap, Starbucks, Nike, and Nordstroms. Josh's rich experience, coupled with his diligent daily research, places him as close to the "cutting edge" as you can get without falling off. He and his wife recently moved from Los Angeles, CA to Boston, MA.
Try and create a simple 5 to 10 line survey and pass it out to some
customers. Get their initial feedback on both the information and
on surveys in general.
And don't forget to keep sending me topics you'd like to learn more about!
For many, the first surveys will be passed out in the store
since you are working on the creation of a website. These early surveys
can be the perfect time to find out what customers are thinking about
the online world. Dont be afraid to ask what your customers would want
in a web site or what would make them keep coming back to a web site.
not to put only computer-related questions in your survey; you'll alienate
those who dont have a computer and dont know what you are
have a web site, do surveys both online and in your store. This can give
great feedback on your web site and also even more information on
customers who may have come to your store after visiting your site. And
that is the point after all, isnt it?
The last question you need to consider is What do your customers get
out of the survey? One decision you will need to make is whether the
surveys will be anonymous or if you will specifically ask for a
name and address. This can be a very big deal to some customers. If you plan on just using an anonymous
survey, maybe offer your customers a discount for filling the
information out. Even a 5% discount after filling out the form will go a long way in getting information to
If, on the other hand, you ask for specific information, be
prepared to answer why you need it, what you will do with the answers to
the survey. Many people are (rightly) worried about their names and addresses
being sold to direct marketers. Market-saavy customers wont fill anything out unless they
are told where the information will go, and even then an incentive is almost a given. Prepare your answers and your rewards know so
you wont lose peoples trust or business.
By answering these few questions, you are well on your way to getting
the information you need from customers to create a powerful online presence.
NEXT WEEK: Survey Says!
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