My family recently enjoyed an evening at a local restaurant, a rare occurrence with busy teenagers. Along with the check came a short survey card, asking for our thoughts about the dining experience.
Initially, this small business survey impressed me, taking the initiative to ask for customer feedback through an instant opinion poll. The postcard-size survey asked our views about the service, food, drinks, and ambiance on a 1-to-5 scale. Additional requests included the name of our server, comments, and our email address. The restaurant’s logo, address, phone number, and website were printed at the bottom of the card.
Enthusiasm turned to puzzlement as the establishment missed several opportunities to create a return visit.
Printed in black and white, the survey did nothing to captivate the eye, and with its sideways logo and small print, the business name was hard to read. The rating scale was unclear: was “1” considered excellent or was “5”? And, with no return address printed on the reverse side, I would have to fill out the card right there or jot the restaurant’s address on the other side and provide a stamp to complete it at home.
Where’s the incentive to fill out the survey? Where is the coupon or future discount for my time? Where is the free postage to encourage people to take the survey and complete it later, anonymously? And where is the incentive to visit the small business’ web site to capture the customer’s attention and, hopefully, entice them to visit in the future?
For the small business owner, customer feedback is essential to find out what customers are thinking. A simple four- or five-question survey suffices. (Be sure to only ask the most relevant questions.) Consider the average customer’s age at your business and set the type size appropriately. And if you ask customers to complete the survey on-site, provide a suggestion box nearby so they can drop off their results anonymously. Don’t forget rewards, which can be as simple as 10 percent off for their next visit.
Perhaps most important, be prepared for customer honesty and be open to constructive criticism. Once you gather the information, you can best address the issues and add to the areas that were praised.
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