Ask Your Customers What They Want

“For the first time in history, it’s now becoming cost effective, possible, and even imperative to create and sustain electronic feedback loops with your end customers.”

Patricia Seybold

In the traditional approach to building and growing a business, customer input — to the extent it’s sought after at all — occurs in tightly confined spaces.

Market research in the form of phone surveys, free samples, focus groups and other standard tactics, pulls in customer perspective in a highly scripted, centrally led way. The whole thing is so tightly controlled in fact, that the identity of the company doing the asking is routinely kept confidential from the research participants.

Thanks to the Internet, it doesn’t have to work this way any longer. One of the greatest benefits of doing business electronically, is the availability of uncensored, unlimited, easily distributed, nearly instantaneous input from your customers.

It has never been so easy and convenient for customers to send comments “upstream” back to you. If you give them the opportunity — by asking for their electronic feedback every chance you get (on your web site, in your emails, in electronic surveys) — your customers will happily serve as real-time barometers for the value that your business provides.

You’ll find that when you encourage their feedback, you’ll receive their praise, their venom, their suggestions, their requests and their advice, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No kidding.

To show you how easy it is (and to prove that once in a while, I take my own advice), I’ve created a simple, 9 question survey about this newsletter on a site called Zoomerang. It cost nothing to set up, and thanks to the easily edited templates that Zoomerang provides, I had the whole thing done and ready to go in 30 minutes (please complete the survey ; I’ll share the results in the next newsletter)!

Here’s the Bottom Line: Find ways to encourage input from your customers. It won’t be tidy, it won’t be controllable, it won’t be statistically significant (although neither is a focus group) and believe me it won’t always be G-rated, but it will be worth its weight in gold.

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