Let’s take a quick look at the Current Business Climate: The SBA and several university studies indicate that:
- A corporation fails every 3-minutes
- A company changes control every 15-minutes
- 66% of ALL companies fail within 10 years with 35% of those failing within the first 2 years 
- 26,000 new products and brands are introduced every year
- 16 – 30% of consumers change brand loyalty in one evening of watching commercials
- 74% of consumers buy outside their “favorite” brands
- 1% Death
- 3% Move
- 5% Buy from a friend
- 9% Sold by a Competitor
- 14% Product Price
- 68% Perceived Indifference
Perceived indifference is the leading cause by a wide margin. This statistic seems to indicate that the problem is all too common-place. Historically, the loss of an existing client is more economically damaging than the failure to gain a new customer. So, it seems prudent to pay attention to this issue. Note that we are discussing perception, the customer’s perception that is, not yours. So how do you know what your clients’ perception of your company and its products and/or services are? One obvious way is to ask them.
Regular customer feedback is one of the important tools you should use to keep a pulse on your business and understand how your customers perceive the value they are getting from you. The customer feedback also will raise any red flags that you need to address before they get out of control and the business is deteriorated significantly.
There are several avenues you can use to get customer feedback. If you have a web site for the business you can use the online poll using free survey tools such as Surveymonkey, Free Online Surveys, Constant Contact, etc. Even social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn have poll utilities you can use to get customer feedback. You can also develop a short form to physically hand to your clients’ decision makers (with a self-addressed-stamped envelope); or better yet, use to survey face-to-face, i.e. interview them and have them review your record and then initial the form if they concur with what you indicated as their responses.
How you formulate and present your survey will be a strong factor in determining its effectiveness.
The important thing to remember when asking for customer feedback is to keep it short and simple. Many people don’t want to spend time to fill out survey forms; however you can improve your response rate by keeping the questions short and making it easy for them to answer them.
Below we have identified 12 questions you should include in the customer feedback form. The goals of the questions are several – to understand what you are doing well, what you can improve, what else customers are looking for how effective is your marketing and which competitors you need to watch for.
- How long have you been our customer?
- First time
- Less than one-year
- One to three-years
- Three to five-years
- Five years or more
- In the last 6 months how has our performance changed?
- Worse than before
- Same as before
- Not Applicable; I haven’t been a customer that long. (N/A)
- What is one thing you like the most about us?
- What is one thing would you like us to change?
- Would you recommend us to your business associates, friends and families?
- How do you compare the value we provide against our competitors?
- The competitors are better
- Same as competitors
- You provide better value
- Safety Record
- Which one competitor do you like the most besides us?
[Please choose one to three answers only and prioritize 1 being most important, 3 less important]
- Products / Services (Provide a Solution, Useful, Consistent & High Quality)
- Demonstrated Expertise
- Speed of Delivery of our Products/Services
- Ease of doing business with us (Think about good communication, helpful attitude, correct & timely paperwork, responsiveness, problem solving, accessibility (phone/email), On time, honest, respectful, etc.)
- Reliability / Consistency
- Customer Service
- How do you hear about our company?
- Social Media
- Direct Sales Call
- Not really
11. What do you want or need most from businesses in our specialty?
12. Is there anything that we failed to address that is important to you that we should understand/know about?
Alternative Wording: 12. Is there an un-addressed need that we should focus on?
If “Yes,” what is it?
According to the SBA; some private studies show a higher failure rate
According to a 2013 Empire Marketing Study