Yes, it’s a bad economy. We all know that. If being bombarded with bad news wasn’t bad enough, it’s even harder when this reality dawns on your own business.
How can Web Hosts or for that matter any business deal with the recession? While there are many ways, I would rather focus on one method that I have found to be effective. And that is the use of Customer Surveys.
To some, customer surveys are those boring email forms that some companies send us. Well, the variety of surveys that I am going to talk about here, is a little different. So ready to start? Here goes.
Evaluate your customer base
An effective way to stabilize your business during a recession is to really evaluate your existing customer base. Maybe you have been marketing too much in the recent past, and have not really been in touch with your customers who get shunted to your support team, once they sign up.
So, dig into your customer database, segment them by service, billing value, company revenue, type of website, country, industry type and anything else you may hold of value, in your scheme of things. This exercise is going to help you understand your customers and realize many things that you never knew.
For example, you’re going to know not only your largest customer base by country, but also your 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th largest base by country. So what if the US is in recession! Maybe there are countries that are relatively well off, and you can focus more in those areas.
Another example is a study by industry. Maybe you already knew that the largest group of people who subscribed to your services were small business owners.
But, in which area? Were they software development companies, or professionals like CPA’s and lawyers? Evaluating your customer base is going to help you identify those areas that are recession proof. This study will help you really know if your business is going to withstand the recession or not.
Always include loyalty questions, such as “How likely are you to refer us”. This is meat for your referral requests later on! In addition, you will know how much ‘word of mouth’ is helping you here.
Use surveys to get back in touch with your customer base
If you haven’t already understood by now, you need to realize that customer surveys are really a way to get back in touch with your customers. So, before we discuss the how-to of a survey, let’s check out its advantages.
Customers get to talk about what you do for them
This underscores your value to their business. You come to know how much or how little you impact their business.
Small annoyances are brought out
Contrary to popular beliefs, this is a good thing :). Regular surveys are going to make sure that small annoyances are not going to snowball into major issues, later on. It reduces the chances of your existing customers leaving you!
Informal market research
Regular surveys are going to help you identify your competitive strengths and differences in the market. Maybe you have something in your business that attracts your customers to you. Surveys are going to help you identify that, and hopefully strengthen your core competencies.
Surveys are cost efficient compared to new marketing
Getting new customers is way more expensive than retaining the existing customers. Due to the rising cost of a new customer gain, it’s cheaper to retain customers than to get new ones. A 5% increase in customer retention could result in a 25% to 95% increase in profit.
If using customer surveys will help you retain your customers, do it. It only needs your time and effort.
Dig into your customer database, segment them by service, billing value, company revenue, type of website, country, industry type and anything else you may hold of value, in your scheme of things.
Conducting customer surveys
Here are some basics you may want to keep in mind before you start surveys.
When to conduct a survey
Always survey when the experience is fresh in the mind of the customer. Say after a sign-up or after an upgrade or maybe after a support ticket. If you were to ask the customer about experiences after a significant amount of time, they wouldn’t remember. In this case, timeliness pays.
In addition, regular surveys help you bond and establish a relationship with the customers. Again, this gives you all those advantages that I mentioned earlier.
How to conduct a survey
In all cases, the more contact you have with the customer, the better. So if you see your customers face to face, that is the best way to go. Of course, this is not always possible, so phone is the second best option. If no other option presents itself, go for survey emails.
Maybe you can do survey emails for collecting information after sign-ups or upgrades. But have regular phone or face to face meetings to get more information.
What to ask in a survey
A survey has to have two main areas. Basic questions (for example, how satisfied you are with the service (or upgrade or sign-up or ticket)) should be the primary information that you are trying to gather. Secondly, always include loyalty questions, such as “How likely are you to refer us”. This is meat for your referral requests later on! In addition, you will know how much ‘word of mouth’ is helping you here.
Understanding your customer needs is a necessity of business. When these needs are estimated, it helps you fully anticipate where your business should focus its energy on. With many options available, it makes more sense when you learn which method will give you the best results.
How happy are your clients? Ask now.
About The Author :
Sangeetha Naik is co-Founder and Director, Poornam (Bobcares). With 9 years of experience in the Web Hosting industry, she speaks in various conferences about how Web Hosts can cost effectively setup and run their Support Operations.