Growing a business these days is really about managing relationships.

Business owners must learn to manage and juggle a complex and shifting combination of customer, partner, vendor, staff and advisory relationships in order to survive and grow.

One of the greatest challenges in doing so is monitoring the current status of all of these important relationships.

Some companies take a stab at this with the traditional customer satisfaction surveys, but these tools typically have more to do with research than current relationship status.

I believe businesses need to find ways to gauge the real time status of how they are doing in the minds of their most important constituent groups and do so in a way that is dead simple, but still elicits an honest and constructive measure of relationship status.

I’ve started to employ a one question survey tool that only asks the recipient to do one thing – click on one of four responses and that’s it. The survey goes out by email and I can tailor the question and response to a handful of situations and monitor feedback in real time.

Customer Thermometer

Obviously, you can’t build relationships through an online form, but you can monitor relationship status in a way that demonstrates you care and are listening and you stand a far greater chance of repairing a damaged relationship when you make it easy and appropriate for someone to tell you that something’s wrong.

Here are some of the ways I employ this tool:

Customer happiness – The most obvious use of course is to get a quick response to work you’ve done or a product you’ve shipped.

Referral generation – By monitoring when a customer tells you they are really, really happy, you can immediately target these customers for referrals, case studies and testimonials.

Go deeper in organization – Many times your work is done only with one person at an organization, but it impacts many others. Using a simple tool you can gauge the overall value your work has to the organization and help that “buyer” build a case for keeping you around.

Partner monitoring – Anytime you receive a referral from a strategic partner you can create a tool that makes sure you are performing on the referral in ways that are making them look good. This is so critical if you plan to build a strategic partner platform.

Internal customer – How often do you take the internal temperature? How happy is your staff? It may be one of the most important reflections of the service your customers receive. How about monitoring the relationship between internal teams like sales and marketing?

Event follow-up – A quick way to monitor how your webinar, conference or presentation went.

The tool I currently use for everything described above is called Customer Thermometer. I like it because it makes it very easy to create simple, recipient friendly and fun one question relationship monitoring email surveys and monitor feedback in real time.

Of course you could easily use a tool like Survey Monkey to do the same thing, but Customer Thermometer does this one thing very well in my opinion and is easy to get going.

I did get a free month as an incentive to try the service out, but I also arranged a deal where my readers can get 2 for 1 for their first month by using the code ducttape. (Just so we’re clear, I don’t receive anything for promoting this tool, I just think it’s the right one for this use.)

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • Jon

    This sounds pretty good! Something I would utilize after we have grown a bit.. only 5 weeks old now!  But very useful.  Great article.

  • You must be able connect with your clients and more and be able to engage in a positive and responsible way.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • Al Pittampalli

    It’s so hard to get inside your customers’ heads. Surveys, although not perfect, are one of the best tools we have. I like your particular survey John, because it’s quick and it’s presented in a fun visual way. Most surveys appear as more work for the customer than it does for the business. 

  • Yannick Pauli

    Tried to visit their site but I get a Trojan Horse warning. Is it just me?

  • Hi Yannick – I think it’s just you – the site’s virus free…

  • college to balance it out. They should have a few people with criminal records