5 minutes read

Surveys, Complaints, and the Value of Regularly Scheduled Listening

Who doesn’t get excited about survey responses, right? Right?!

In case it’s not coming through on screen, that was written in a sarcastic tone. Creating and managing customer surveys online (or paper, or phone surveys) is rarely earthshaking. Survey response rates are often low, and responses tend to roll in rather slowly. But the insight from even a very small number of respondents can be invaluable to planning and executing your marketing and sales strategy.

Customer Surveys Are Worthwhile

Low response rates do not necessarily indicate failure. The voice of the customer always has value. An ongoing collection of input (and responding to that input) positions your company to be successful in several key areas.

Our advice? Keep asking questions. And even more important: Listen.

Of course there are things you can do to improve your customer surveys and response rates. See below for tips to improve your surveys and feedback forms. But remember, how you handle the process and what you do with the responses is every bit as important as the collection process. To put it simply, you need to make listening to the customer a habit.

Customer Stories = Marketing Gold

If you don’t already monitor your “listening” channels, make a list and check it twice (or more) in the coming year. A robust website should have several touchpoints or data collection tools. Consider how you use those on your website:

  • RFP/RFQ Buttons
  • Contact Forms
  • Social Sharing icons
  • Sign up for newsletters/promotional communications
  • Thank you for shopping with us auto-responders
  • Sale cancelled/abandoned cart follow-up emails with surveys

Employees, Vendors and Partners Have Stories Too

Speaking of the voice of the customer, one thing we hear repeatedly from our small business customers is how valuable it is to have regularly scheduled marketing meetings with a team of people – both internal staff (a cross-functional team is great) and in-sourced marketing experts. In monthly marketing meetings with our clients, we consider all customer reviews, complaints, survey results, anecdotes, and other input, and discuss it briefly in the opening few minutes of a monthly marketing meeting. That input informs not only marketing strategies but often, also the company’s overall business direction.

Hidden Value, Surprising Benefits of Using Surveys in Your Business

We say surveys are a marketing “gold mine” because surveys –

  • Provide a mechanism to listen to customers
  • Personalize your brand
  • Strengthen your relationship with your customers. (Even if they don’t complete your survey, making one available creates a line of communication.)

Listen, and Share

While constantly running promotions and discounting your products is not recommended, listening all the time absolutely is. We’ll go so far as to call it a best practice. But, listening isn’t enough. Listening and using customer feedback to improve operations isn’t even enough. You have to share, too.

By the way, this is one of the reasons why we like Yext Ultimate Reviews so much – the powerful tool makes getting client reviews and adding them to your website easy and attractive – and because of its design, businesses that use it see increased natural search traffic to their sites. More on that in a future post.

Letting your customers and prospects know what you’ve learned from them is part of the process. People like to know that they’ve been heard; they’re interested in hearing what others think about the same thing; and they LOVE IT when a company makes changes based on their imput. So sharing on your website, newsletter, social channels, and in face to face marketing events (like trade shows or at point-of-purchase displays) is critically important to getting the best ROI on your survey program.

When you continually seeking feedback, ideas and other input from customers you’ll gain insight that will help you make good business decisions. You’ll also gain a reputation as a company that’s receptive, and easy to work with.

Not a bad way to start a New Year.


Regularly-scheduled meetings are a hallmark of the JointSourcing client relationship. We are committed to listening to our clients, and to their customers, in order to recognize and respond quickly and wisely to changing market demands and opportunities. Need a partner to help you listen and respond to your customers in order to grow your business? We’d love to help you start a conversation with your customers – and meet your sales growth goals.

Tips to Make Your Customer Surveys More Useful

  • Short and sweet = smart.
  • Design questions carefully. Keep the questions focused on relevant topics.
  • Carefully consider whether or how to incentivize survey respondents – it may not be a good idea! Very attractive incentives can skew results making the information you collect less relevant and meaningful to your planning process.
  • Try picking up the phone. Or training frontline service workers to ask a key question during each transaction, recording data (even anecdotally) at the end of each shift. Online surveys are easy to monitor, but live responses from customers when they’re at your business offer tremendously helpful insights.
  • SHARE what you learn – and what you’re doing in response to customer feedback. This is part of your marketing strategy! Companies that are seen as a receptive and responsive are rewarded with customer loyalty.
  • Work with Sales Renewal Corporation to develop good habits around listening and responding to your customers, and incorporate that into a successful marketing strategy.

Sales Renewal’s insight:

When you continually seeking feedback, ideas and other input from customers you’ll gain insight that will help you make good business decisions and develop a winning marketing strategy. You’ll also gain a reputation as a company that’s receptive, responsive, and easy to work with.