Monday, May 19, 2008

Do you survey your customers?

Have you been to It's not the only survey website out there (check out or among others), but it is one that I use for our company that is extremely simple to use and does what I need. You can't beat the price either. $200 gets you unlimited surveys with unlimited responses. That's pretty incredible. You can even try it out for free if you have a small survey that would have limited responses.

Now this post is not a plug for, but more of a question on why more small companies don't survey their customers if a tool like this is available at such a cheap price. Surveying is not just for the large corporations doing billions of dollars in business, it is an important measure for anyone to have when doing business. In marketing we throw money at new strategies, new designs, and new ideas when maybe we should just be asking what people want. We're all guilty of chasing after the next new hot idea, campaign, or media, but maybe the answers are there with our current customers.

Recently we surveyed the residents at our communities and I will say that by doing so online I had better results than ever. Previously we would deliver paper surveys to our residents and we would get back approx 25% of the surveys. We felt that was a pretty good response rate, but by sending out surveys online and having the ability to send reminders responses increased to 45%!!! This type of response rate really gives us the chance to analyze the data and make decisions to improve our business or change up our marketing strategy. One change we have already made is re-listing our properties at as 41.5% of respondents indicated using their site as a resource for an apartment search. They ranked first for Internet resources used, and last year we dropped most of our listing with them to help reduce some expenses. While we have had a good year, we feel the cost is not as prohibitive as losing the exposure this popular site provides.

There are many other examples of how surveys can impact your business or influence changes. I know from our experience the survey we recently sent out has identified a few areas we need to make changes. Although it's sometimes tough to see where we are going wrong it's also a nice wake-up call. While I think it's important to recognize our faults and where changes are necessary, it gives us a great opportunity to see what we are doing well and exploit our best qualities also.

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