Keeping a Pulse on the Client: The Importance of Surveys for Small Businesses

When you buy a product online or take your car to the dealership for service, almost immediately, an email or text pops up, asking you about your experience. Large businesses are always asking for feedback to gauge how they are doing and where there are opportunities for improvement. And yet, small businesses seldom follow suit. This is a missed opportunity that ultimately impacts long-term client satisfaction, as well as the company’s bottom line. Today, we explore why small businesses are hesitant to ask for feedback and how they can overcome their fear of the process.

Here are just a few common reasons why companies fail to survey their clients:

  • The client won’t respond, so why bother?
  • Fear of what clients may say, and uncertainty of how to respond.
  • Customer feedback programs are too expensive to implement.
  • Assumption that, because the company is small, it already knows what its clients think or need.

All the above are common myths. Every business should actively and regularly seek client feedback about its product or service. If businesses are not asking for feedback, they are missing out on major opportunities to:

  • Improve business operations.
  • Enhance customer loyalty.
  • Turn a negative experience into a positive outcome.
  • Remind customers to share their experiences on online reputation platforms.
  • Tweak product or service offerings to better align with their customer base.
  • Identify areas of opportunity to reach new customers or fill a gap in the market.

Online, Email, Paper or Face-to-Face

There are a multitude of resources that businesses can use to solicit feedback, such as:

  • Automated online surveys such as SurveyMonkey, Google Forms, or Polldaddy
  • Face-to-face surveys
  • Telephone surveys
  • Hard copy surveys with a personalized letter from senior management
  • Any combination of the above.

Businesses should carefully reflect on which option will likely generate the most participation and what is the overall goal. Are you surveying a multitude of clients about their general perceptions of the company, or is the survey targeted to a handful of “key” clients who represent a significant portion of the business’s revenue? Complex services such as legal or accounting will benefit from using face-to-face surveys or telephone surveys. Additionally, experience shows that clients are more likely to respond when going through a neutral, third-party source where they feel they can give honest responses, or if there is a small incentive included such as a discount on a future purchase.

Keep your expectations realistic — you’re unlikely ever to get 100% of clients to participate, but that’s okay; even a 10% response rate can provide valuable information.

Rather than asking vague, generic questions that have little value when it comes to measuring satisfaction or how to improve, focus on specific, targeted questions around key aspects of the business. For instance, break down experiences into important points, such as:

  • How easy it was to check out online
  • How quickly someone responded to inquiries or problems
  • How they found out about the business or what brought them there
  • What other services or products they are interested in
  • How likely they are to recommend the company/product/service to others

Have a plan in place for what information you want to collect and how you will respond.

*Remember to keep the survey short; six to eight questions are the right length for optimal client response.

Managing Feedback

A critical factor to keep in mind when implementing a voice of the customer program, however, is that the business must be committed to accepting and acting upon ALL feedback. Just because a business doesn’t like a response doesn’t mean it should be ignored or swept under the rug. Clients want to see that their opinions and concerns are being heard and acted upon. Ignoring negative feedback can result in the client airing the grievance online.

For example, if several people respond that the business is not responsive to returning phone calls or emails, be prepared to execute change quickly. This could mean implementing a policy of a 24- or 48-hour timeframe for replying — and sticking to it! Note the change on the company website, and other social media venues, so clients know that you listened to their concerns and care. Implementing positive changes can mean not only a greater financial return but also improved customer loyalty.

If a specific client has an issue, senior management should be ready to step in and personally address the problem promptly. This simple act by small businesses can go a long way in forging improved relationships because there is a personal connection and emphasis on doing what is right. It shows clients that they matter.

Implementing Client Satisfaction Surveys

Are you ready to take the next step? Implementing a plan for a client feedback program can be easier than you think. Working with a marketing professional such as YGL Enterprises can allow you to put in place a program that fits the unique needs of your business and generates the type of feedback you can use to drive continued success. Contact YGL Enterprises today to learn more and develop a focused strategy to realize marketing solutions.

Tags: Brand Management, Brand Marketing, Client Surveying, Managing Feedback, marketing, Professional Development, YGL Enterprises

Originally published at on January 15, 2020.




B2B marketing consultant who writes about marketing strategy, branding, and content with the hope of inspiring reluctant business owners to embrace marketing.

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Yvonne Levine

Yvonne Levine

B2B marketing consultant who writes about marketing strategy, branding, and content with the hope of inspiring reluctant business owners to embrace marketing.

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