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Using Surveys to Automatically Create Reviews and Referrals

A couple of days ago a reader asked me if I was aware of any online survey tools that would redirect a survey taker to a a series of web pages based on their response to a chosen question.

I was aware of at least one (I’m sure many can do this) because I use it myself in several campaigns aimed at measuring satisfaction and then generating reviews and testimonials.

The survey and form building tool I use is called Wufoo and it allows you to assign rules to questions and answers that help control what happens when the survey taker chooses a certain answer. So if they say yes to a certain question they can be directed to the page created for yes answer or if they say no, they go to the no page or get the no email. Because Wufoo integrates with a number of the more popular email service providers, this can be a great way to certain responders into a drip campaign or niche newsletter based on their specific response.

Measuring results and getting feedback from customers offers one of the surest ways to get better. Any organization that gets great reviews and tons of referrals makes the collection of data from customers a high priority.

Simply asking your customers how likely it is that they would refer your business to friends and colleagues, ala Fred Reichheld’s The Ultimate Question, is a great, simple way to gauge how you are doing and open doors for reviews and referrals.

With that thought in mind here’s a very practical way to integrate data collection with the generation of referrals or proactive stimulation of reviews on sites like Google Places and Yelp.

  • Create a survey using a tool with rule setting like Wufoo
  • Use a simple question like – Would you refer us on a scale of 1-10
  • Set up rules for the 1-6 folks that sends them to a form to try to figure out what went wrong or create a process to call them and see what you can fix
  • Set up rules for 7-8 folks that sends them to a form that tries to get them to tell you one thing you could improve upon
  • Set up rules for the 9-10 folks that sends them to a page that features your Yelp or Google Place page reviews and outlines the process for how they might add a review (if you really want to push it tell them about a special offer you have for Yelpers only) or create a process to call them and ask if you could talk about reviews, case studies, referrals or testimonials

The process described above can be a great addition to the referral and review generation routines, but even if what you really find out is that you are getting mostly 2-3 scores, you’ll be on the path to fixing what needs to be fixed in order to turn your business into a referral engine.

5 Questions You Should Ask Every Customer

Constantly seeking feedback from your customers is a great way to learn how to market your business more effectively. If you’ve never done this before, do it immediately as it is one of the best ways to discover what you do that actually differentiates you from your competition.

questionsI can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked with a small business that had no idea what its competitive advantage was until we heard it right from the mouths of happy customers. Seeking feedback is also a great way to get better and plug gaps. I can tell you that if you’re not receiving a large amount of your business by way of referral or word of mouth, you’ve probably got some gaps in your processes.

Below are five questions I like to pose to customers as they can provide a great discussion base for getting at what’s truly important to you and your customers. Create a form and get in the habit of surveying a handful of customers every month. I think you’ll be rewarded with tremendous insight and you’ll also find that your customers enjoy being asked what they think. One word of caution, don’t accept vague answers like “you provide good service.” While that may be true and good to hear, you can’t work with that. Push a bit and ask what good service looks like and maybe even if they can tell you about a specific instance in which they felt they got good service.

1. What made you decide to hire us/buy from us in the first place?

This is a good baseline question for your marketing. It can get at how effective your advertising, message and lead conversion processes are working. I’ve also heard customers talk about the personal connection or culture that felt right in this question.

2. What’s one thing we do better than others you do business with?

In this question you are trying to discover something that you can work with as a true differentiator. This is probably the question you’ll need to work hardest at getting specifics. You want to look for words and phrases and actual experiences that keep coming up over and over again, no matter how insignificant they may seem to you. If your customers are explaining what they value about what you do, you may want to consider making that the core marketing message for your business.

3. What’s one thing we could do to create a better experience for you?

On the surface this question could be looked at as a customer service improvement question, and it may be, but the true gold in this question is when your customers can identify an innovation. Sometimes we go along doing what we’ve always done and then out of the blue a customer says something like, “I sure wish it came like this,” and all of a sudden it’s painfully clear how you can create a meaningful innovation to your products, services and processes. Push your customers to describe the perfect experience buying what you sell.

4. Do you refer us to other, and if so, why?

This is the ultimate question of satisfaction because a truthful answer means your customer likes the product and likes the experience of getting the product. (You can substitute service here of course.) There’s an entire consulting industry cropping up around helping people discover what Fred Reichheld called the Net Promoter Score in his book The Ultimate Question.

Small businesses can take this a step deeper and start understanding specifically why they get referrals and perhaps the exact words and phrases a customer might use when describing to a friend why your company is the best.

5. What would you Google to find a business like ours?

This is the new lead generation question, but understanding what it implies is very important. If you want to get very, very good at being found online, around the world or around the town, you have to know everything you can about the actual terms and phrases your customers use when they go looking for companies like yours.

Far too often businesses optimize their web sites around industry jargon and technical terms when people really search for “stuff to make my life better.”

Bonus: I’m a big fan of building strategic partnerships and networks. Another question I would suggest you get in the habit of asking your customer is – “What other companies do you love to refer?” If you can start building a list of “best of class” companies, based on your customer’s say so, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve got a list of folks you should be building strategic relationships with.

Image credit: Karen Elliot