In the early 1980s when legendary American businessman Victor Kiam faced the camera and said, “I liked the shaver so much, I bought the company,’ he and Remington became instant household names.  No mere advertising gimmick, Kiam, who made his fortune as Remington CEO, truly was impressed with the electric shaver his wife had given him.

Victor Kiam’s belief in his product was inspiring yet his real success was in understanding what the customer wanted.  He bought competitive electric shavers and conducted his own comparison tests to satisfy himself that Remington had the best product on the market. He knew that it didn’t matter what the company had to offer; it mattered what the customer wanted to buy. He understood that he may have been selling a razor, but his customers were buying a smooth shave.

As a small business owner, you may feel you can’t afford to invest in research before you develop and introduce a new product or offer a service, but failure to do so can be far more costly. Who doesn’t remember a product that launched to a great deal of fanfare and promise only to fade quickly into obscurity? The problem could be market timing, the economy or poor execution. It also could be a failure to understand what customers really want and will pay for.

Consider an online survey

Plantronics Small Business Survey

Today, we talk a lot about the value of social media to have an ongoing conversation with customers. There are many examples of companies that have collaborated with customers via social media to determine what new product features or functionality they should provide. Still there’s a disadvantage or limitation with social media since feedback generally comes from those ‘friends or followers’ who have a strong emotional connection to your product.

What you want is communication with customers that allows for honest input. In this regard, online surveys can be very useful since they enable anonymous feedback, which may encourage customers or prospects to be more forthcoming. They can identify weaknesses or strengths in your strategy and processes. The good news is that there are many options for online surveys and they are both easy to launch on your own and cost effective.

Ensure your survey gets results

Here are some guidelines to ensure your surveys get you what you need:

  • Focus on one objective such as customer satisfaction, product offerings, etc. Don’t try to accomplish too much and don’t waste your respondents’ time with questions you really don’t care about.
  • Keep your questions brief and easy to understand.
  • Avoid open ended questions. Yes/no or multiple choice are best. You even can ask for respondents to choose between one or the other, such as which product do you like better?
  • Try to be entertaining and keep questions to 10 max.

Before you go live, test the survey yourself to be sure it’s logical and meets your objectives.

Take our Small Business Survey