5 Questions You Must Ask Your Customers That Will Save You Money

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

If you seem to be throwing lots of time and money at advertising, SEO, PPC, SEM and every other type of advertising - with less than desired results, then these five questions could save you money, time and and build customer loyalty.

Most business owners steer away from asking their customers what they think about their products or services for fear that they may find fault. This is a "bury your head in the sand" mentality that limits your potential and your opportunities to stay ahead of your competition.

How do I know this? Because I have worked with dozens of small businesses, and most of them have never asked their customers what they think. When I work with businesses, one of the first things I do is evaluate their products and services for my personal liking - and sometimes asking colleagues and friends to do the same. If I don't think their offerings are up to par, then bringing in more customers will do more damage than good.

So here's the top five questions and why you need to ask these.

1. How did you hear about us?
It is important to understand which marketing channels are working for you. If the majority of your new customers are coming from word of mouth referrals, create opportunities for more referrals. Don't spend your hard-earned cash on advertising to people who don't know and love you.

2. What was your main reason for choosing us?
I am constantly reminded that price is not the main reason people choose to do business with you. Consistently across the 70 industry sectors we have surveyed, trust that you can provide the right product or service is the Number One reason. But there are others and you need to know the reasons why customers choose you, because this is essential to your communication with existing and potential customers.

3. What is one thing we do really well for you?
This question gives you clues about why you are better than your competitors--and this creates opportunity to exploit your strong points in your marketing. Customers will tell you why you are better than the guy down the road. Your job is to make sure that you keep delivering well on your strengths.

4. Is there anything we could we do better?
This is the main reason why business owners don't do customer surveys - they don't really want to know - yet this is vital information that you need to know. You need to know where the gaps are so you can plug them. Don't allow your weaknesses to be your competitors' advantage.

5. On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to refer a friend or colleague to us, where 1 is not likely at all and 10 is extremely likely?
Those of you who are familiar with net promoter score will know that a customer who scores 9 or 10 is a strong referral source. You also want to ask them why they have given you this score so that you can understand what is important to your best customers and be sure that you continue to meet their expectations.

So there you have it. With the answers to these questions, you can create marketing plans that have a balance of strategies for attracting new customers as well as retaining existing ones. You will know what areas you need to work on and what you need to constantly keep on top of to avoid losing customers.

-D. Taylor