Filed under: Clients, News, Restaurants, Running a better business, Survey Feedback, Surveys, Technology | Tags: better business, customer service surveys, economy, entrepreneurship, interchange zero, low costs, new businesses, start-up
For those of you unfamiliar, interchange zero (IZ) is a term supporters use when talking about eliminating the interchange costs associated with the use of credit cards. Interchange fees are those pesky percentages card companies charge merchants when they accept credit card transactions. The belief among many like Seth Priebatsch, creator of The LevelUp, is that by reducing or removing those fees, ‘Friction’ that money can better be used to build commerce and drive revenue to benefit all parties involved. I realize one sentence doesn’t do it justice, but redirecting $50 bllion of current non-value-added expenses toward driving consumer and enterprise value is an extremely powerful idea – especially in light of the current state of the economy.
A logical and possibly larger extension of this idea is the opportunity around what I call Obligation Zero (OZ), the ‘Friction’ that results from contract terms. This topic came up as we recently launched our start-up, On The Spot Systems. One of the first things we needed to figure out (after identifying that we had an excellent concept) was a go-to-market strategy. When we thought about what type of company we wanted to be, we instantly defaulted to our vision of the kinds of companies with which WE would want to do business (One of the simple pleasures of starting your own business!) We immediately concluded that “No Contracts Required” was a good place to start. My business partner and I firmly believe that if we aren’t delivering the promise we made to you as our client, we don’t deserve to keep your business. Period. More importantly, we found that this approach keeps us always pushing forward, always looking for the next unique tool or innovation, always looking out for our clients’ best interest. Essentially, it keeps us hungry.
I speak from experience: When a client isn’t obligated to continue to pay us because of a guaranteed contract, we ensure that we are ultra competitive. We continually press innovation into our clients’ hands, continue to improve the efficiency of our business to deliver lower cost solutions while maintaining or growing our margins. We believe that ultimately we will capture a larger share of the market as a result of this approach to doing business and that we will maintain a reputation for ensuring our clients always get the best we can deliver.
The flip side of OZ is the impact of obligating your clients to pay for unrealized value. What is the cost to business and the economy of this approach? The net result is negative economic value as businesses are forced to accept sub-optimal performance and products or services they no longer want or need. My guess is that this could result in billions of dollars of sub-optimal performance across the business landscape. Consider this industry example: Based on a recent GSM/Wireless Intelligence study, global revenues for mobile service will reach $1.1 trillion (with a ‘T’) this year. If 1% of that revenue came from customers that had better service options available – but couldn’t switch carriers – and if by switching they could save on average 10%, it represents $1.1 Billion dollars of economic impact… For that single category of business alone! Think about all of the contract obligations, personal and business, in existence, and do the math. It represents a colossal number…and doesn’t include any of the non-cash benefits, like better, faster service.
This played out in the real world recently. After successfully piloting our Survey On The Spot product, one of our hospitality clients decided to move forward with a system-wide rollout. They encountered one major problem: Their current supplier refused to let them out of their contract, essentially forcing the client to continue using what they perceived to be a sub-optimal product for the remainder of the contract (about a year). Rather than looking in the mirror at what they had failed to deliver – they just fell back onto the contract. The client called us, exasperated, so we put our money where our mouths are… We offered the client our product at no cost for the first year, thereby demonstrating our commitment to our clients (and a healthy belief in our Survey On The Spot product) by walking-the-walk. It’s still too early to tell how this story will end, but we are committed to this OZ approach to business, and people are taking notice.
We recognize that eliminating all contracts is easier said than done, but we do believe that reducing the situations in which contracts only serve to arbitrarily lock in a revenue stream is good for business. This is at the heart of the opportunity and impact. If companies are motivated to be as efficient as possible to benefit their clients, how much capital would flow into the economy to fuel growth? A lot. If contract-obligating companies always tried to find a way to innovate to improve the efficiency of their clients, what would be the lift in economic productivity?
It’s hard to know, but “Obligation Zero“ is a good place to start.
Filed under: Email Marketing, Restaurants, Running a better business | Tags: customer service surveys, email list building, Email Marketing, mobile surveys
What’s more valuable than being able to reach your customers at any hour of the day? Sharing the right information in the most effective manner. Your business has ample opportunity to contact customers thanks to the prevalence of email marketing, but misuse of this tool can be fatal for your customers’ interest in your product.
Before you send out your next marketing email, be sure to read these tips on optimizing your email marketing to boost your business’ sales.
Give your clients what they want. While you might think new restaurant flatware or a recently replaced carpet is interesting stuff, your customers want to know about what’s in it for them. Customers want to hear about events, discounts, promotions and specials.
Be personal and relevant. When you collect email addresses, ask for other information as well. You will delight your customers with birthday greetings and rewards. The email promotions you send should be available at the locations most convenient to the client. Don’t pester your customers with promotions they likely won’t be able to use! Similarly, keep your promotions timely. Send seasonal specials as the season kicks off, when your customers have the time of year in mind.
Make an impression. Email boxes fill up quickly with company promotions. Make your email marketing stand out! Use a stimulating headline to ensure your message doesn’t go straight to the recycle bin. Highlight the purpose of the email, be it a sale, a promotion, or a new product, right in the headline. Of course, getting a customer to open the email isn’t the end of the battle. A well-written paragraph or two may adequately share your message, but only if the client bothers to read it. Consider adding design elements like photography and art to share your message efficiently and effectively. Of course, keep it short! Customers care about what’s in it for them.
Don’t be a pest. No one wants to hear from you daily. The more emails you send, the more your customers will find themselves deleting your messages as ‘spam.’ Determine what works best for your business, but set a regular interval. Maybe you have a weekly special that is worthy of highlighting; in that case, a weekly email may be perfect. Setting a seasonal menu? Bi-monthly emails will let your customers know what to expect as the menu changes. Try to be consistent with your frequency so customers know when to expect to hear from you. There aren’t any consistent published guidelines regarding email frequency, however one good rule of thumb is to base it on how frequently your customer makes a buying decision in your type of industry. It is important to keep an eye on your unsubscribe list. If your rate of unsubscribes goes up, you may be emailing too frequently.
Diversify and integrate. Email is effective, but many clients are proficient in and active on social media channels. Encourage customers to sign up for your Facebook page or to be a Twitter follower. This allows customers to become more connected to your brand and your business. Speak mobile fluently. With mobile device and smartphone use growing by the day, it becomes more necessary that your emails translate fully to mobile screens. This includes your text, images, and links.
Let them forward. Never forget to include an ‘share’ link in every email. This allows your customers to share their love of your product with friends. Word of mouth in the digital age extends to email forwarding!
Segmented Lists segmenting addresses based on interests or demographics can help your emails be more relevant, especially when promoting events or specials.
Filed under: Restaurants, Running a better business, Survey Feedback | Tags: customer experience, customer feedback, customer service surveys, feedback follow up, guest-services
No matter how hard you work at making your business run well, there will be customer complaints. Some customers will keep their complaints to themselves. Others, though, will express their concerns to you through your Guest Satisfaction Surveys. If your customers are willing to be honest with you and share their issues with your business, they likely expect two things: problem resolution and personal follow-up.
Today, let’s focus on the latter. Many customer surveys ask for contact information for businesses to get in touch with guests after guests lodge complaints. Failing to follow up with a dissatisfied guest may result in a lost customer and a bad reputation. Handling customer complaints is best done with simple courtesy:
1. Listen: Read their comments fully and closely. If speaking in person, do not interrupt. They have something to tell you, you need to hear it.
2. Say Thank You: Always, always, always say thank you! Follow up with any customer complaints. Respond to them in whatever medium they provide you contact information; the more direct the better. If they give their phone number, call them. Let them know you care.
3. Apologize: If you care about your customers’ experience, you need to apologize. Do not rest on rationalizations and excuses; apologize for your customers’ subpar experience with your company. Make the apology sincere.
4. Show Respect: Consider the customers’ feelings and opinions when seeking a resolution. Work together to find the answer. Ask what the customer would like to have happen – the customer may expect less than you think.
5. Send a Note: Follow up with your customer and thank them for their input. Let them know how you made appropriate changes. Customers will often respond positively to your focus on making them part of the solution.
Your customers will appreciate your good manners and strong follow-up. Moreover, they will share that good experience with others. Just as an unhappy customer can keep potential customers away, a satisfied customer will relate that experience with others. Prompt, sincere follow-up is critical to address guest issues.
Filed under: Surveys | Tags: customer feedback, customer satisfaction score, customer service surveys, real-time survey reporting
Customer experience is important to you. You make that clear by how you run your operations. Are you moving your customer satisfaction scores in the right direction?
At your business, complaints are handled quickly and professionally. You offer your customers ample opportunity to express their concerns through customer experience surveys. You have a means of logging that information, following up quickly, and making changes where necessary, with a near-immediacy thanks to real-time survey tools. But what do you do with surveys in the long run?
Real-time reporting allows you to look at individual surveys and aggregated data for immediate review or a broad overview, as necessary. Take advantage of your reporting tools to look at customer experience reports for a fuller analysis. For example, Survey On The Spot allows you to look at trends in your customers’ reviews to track your progress. Look at results for specific days or employee shifts or take a longer view, seeing how your customers’ experiences get better or worse as you try to make changes to adjust your workflow. Survey On The Spot data is easily viewed online and can also be exported as a spreadsheet or pdf.
The best part of having your survey data available and easily manipulated in spreadsheets is the tracking tool. You can highlight positive trends and try to replicate successes. Your employees who receive the best feedback can be recognized and rewarded for their services. New employees’ impact on clients can be shown through customer experience surveys completed for visits during their working shifts. Eliminating menu items, changing administrative check-in procedures, or reorganizing a showroom all can have an impact on your clients’ feelings about your business. You do not even have to include specific questions about those changes to be able to see in the surveys how they play out for clients.
You can also learn more about what you haven’t been asking your clients. Seeing the feedback over time may make you realize follow-up questions that are worth asking. Adding in those inquiries may also change your customers’ perceptions of you: something else you can learn from analyzing your survey trends!
Filed under: Surveys | Tags: customer service surveys, ipad surveys, iPhone surveys, ipod surveys, mobile surveys, real-time survey reporting, Survey On The Spot
There is a tendency among businesses that collect customer feedback to not properly take advantage of the information. Many businesses collect comment cards, but when it comes time to enter the data into a system, there isn’t the budget to pay the administrative staff to do data entry. The only thing worse than not mining your customers for insights is going through the heavy lifting of getting them to complete a survey and then not doing anything with it.
Being able to obtain complete customer participation in experience surveys will not help at all if you never read what your clients have to say. If you are not using your customer feedback to the fullest, you can take some comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Unfortunately, getting data from comment cards is a resource-intensive process that does not always make it to the top of the priorities list in a busy workplace.
The obstacles to analysis of customer comment cards are many, even after your clients have shared their opinions. The cards, once distributed, completed, and collected, must then be reviewed and input by administrative staff. This data entry, though elementary, is a tedious task that uses valuable administrative time. Administrative tasks like data entry also leave ample opportunity for human error, potentially skewing results and negating the value of the survey. Double-checking data entry is another time-consuming task. Depending on your software programs, you may find yourself reviewing the data input manually to extrapolate themes and trends from your data.
Composing the perfect survey takes time and effort. Making the survey accessible to customers and then convincing them to complete it takes time, money, and creative thinking. If you are putting in the resources to develop and promote your survey, why would you want to waste it all on a lack of follow-through? The only thing worse than not mining your customers for insights is failing to take timely action on the learning that is at your fingertips.
Is there an easier approach? Of course there is! Businesses can put aside the pencils and note cards and fast-forward their survey materials to the 21st century. Consider using iPad or iPod touch portable devices so your customers can input survey data in real time. This allows your business to identify specific time frames for responses, pick up on trends, and stay abreast of customer satisfaction as it happens. This method eliminates much of the human error associated with data entry and also cuts down on wasted time for your employees. Allowing your staff to serve customers instead of being hidden away copying responses into a computer means more one-on-one customer service, a better client experience, and happier customers. Meanwhile, you reap the profits.
Filed under: Restaurants, Surveys | Tags: clean restrooms, cleanliness, customer feedback, customer service surveys, QSR Magazine
A recent survey by Cintas Corporation in QSR Magazine showed that customers do not simply expect clean restrooms, they require them: a survey polling 1,000 U.S. residents ages 18 and older found that 94 percent of U.S. adults would avoid patronizing a business at which they experienced a dirty restroom. A single unhappy customer doesn’t just take his business elsewhere: word of mouth (and Twitter) spreads quickly and can cost many future visits by existing and potential customers. As a result, an unclean restroom gone unnoticed could turn off multiple customers in one day. While some will inform a member of the staff, not all customers feel comfortable directly reporting uncleanliness in a restaurant, retail outlet, or business. Meanwhile, although clean restrooms are a priority for most businesses, it is difficult — if not impossible — to set aside staff for hyper-frequent bathroom checkups.
Think that just because you aren’t operating a restaurant, this doesn’t apply to your company? Not so. The same survey asked respondents what specific types of businesses they would avoid due to dirty restrooms. Leading the list and tied for first are restaurants and hotels: 79 percent of respondents would avoid these business because of the state of their facilities. Similarly, 77 percent of respondents would be turned off by unclean restrooms in healthcare facilities. Also on the list were supermarkets (50 percent of respondents), retail stores (45 percent of respondents), gas stations (45 percent of respondents), and even car dealerships (39 percent of respondents).
Of course, this doesn’t mean every business in America needs to hire an around-the-clock restroom attendant. Instead, make it more convenient and less awkward for customers to report cleanliness complaints or comments to management. Real-time satisfaction surveys can provide you with customer feedback about cleanliness and other service issues instantly. You might even consider a survey kiosk to get the most timely and accurate responses.
Faster than the old-fashioned pencil and comment card, internet-connected surveys can even send alerts to management to inform about particular cleanliness issues. Historically, you would have to wait til the end of a guest’s hotel stay or visit to your business site to be informed of their unhappiness. With immediate notification, you can be on the move to ameliorate the situation in an instant. If there is a larger issue, you can get respond promptly to customers to let them know you’re working to fix the situation.
Providing customers with an anonymous, instant opportunity to share their opinions, issues, and concerns about your restrooms and public areas sends the message that your business is concerned about their input. Furthermore, knowing their voices will be heard encourages the customers to provide that input.
While a survey won’t mop the floors, it can let you know when you may need to bring out the bucket. Responding promptly to customer complaints about cleanliness can be the difference between a one-time guest and a regular client.
Filed under: Case Study | Tags: customer service surveys, ipad surveys, iPhone surveys, mobile surveys, restaurant survey app
With the new technology, clients would be hard-pressed to miss the opportunity to participate. The visual nature of an iPod kiosk lets visitors know their opinion is heard and desired. Encouraging participation from all clients provides a fuller picture of the customer experience.
As in any healthcare environment with a high level of personal interaction, input and feedback is necessary to maintain the highest level of vet service. Real-time surveys make it quick and easy to obtain opinions and ideas without creating new administrative busy work. Kiosks are perfect for organizations like pet hospitals with limited staff to take advantage of the benefits provided by real-time surveys.
Healthcare facility management is at its most challenging in the current economic times. Balancing budget challenges with the constantly mounting need for services and support, non-profit animal hospitals like the MSPCA must still maintain spotless records, satisfy their clients, and provide data for veterinarians to improve pet healthcare services. Real-time surveys allow organizations like the MSPCA Angell Animal Hospital to do just that.
Filed under: Surveys | Tags: customer service surveys, iPhone surveys, mobile restaurant surveys, mobile surveys, restaurant surveys
As smartphone ownership and use expands globally, QR codes are becoming an increasingly powerful tool for businesses to share their products with clients. The success of QR codes as a marketing tool for products can be carried over to implementing business and consumer surveys as well, creating opportunities to capitalize on emerging technology and appeal to clientele in trend-conscious market areas.
What are QR codes? Short for “Quick Response codes,” QR codes are are matrix barcodes readable by dedicated barcode readers and smartphones. Also known as “mobile tagging,” QR codes are two-dimensional squares connecting offline media to online content. QR codes eliminate the need for clients to remember and type in a complex URL; a simple smartphone photo will deliver clients directly to the necessary website. Quick and easy for your clients, QR codes are a growing trend and have gained popularity with smartphone users.
Sodexo Leisure, an integrated facilities management services company with locations internationally, found survey success using QR codes to share guest satisfaction surveys with their clients in 22 locations across the United States. Clients are able to scan the code with their smartphones, enabled by QR code reader apps, to access the survey website, and evaluate their experience in real-time.
How can your business replicate Sodexo Leisure’s success?
To encourage your clients to take your survey, it is crucial that you make the survey as accessible as possible: your QR code strategy can be a major element of this accessibility for mobile users. Placing QR codes on signage, merchandising materials, business cards, or other communication vehicles allows customers to scan the code and be linked straight to your business’ survey site. If your client base is not likely to be familiar with QR code technology, provide them with some basic instructions on how to use their smartphone to access the survey. For fans of creative design, QR codes function with up to 30% of the barcode deteriorated, so consider altering your QR code to reflect a basic company icon. QR codes may not replace basic website URLs, but they can be a fast, easy, customer-friendly instrument to get your survey to your clients.
Filed under: Case Study | Tags: customer service surveys, hospital surveys, iPhone surveys, mobile restaurant surveys, Survey On The Spot
Need to know how your organization is operating — straight from the operating room? At hospitals and medical centers, patients are always the top priority. Tift Regional Medical Center in Tifton, Georgia has improved care and satisfied patients in the Emergency Care facility by offering real-time patient experience surveys.
Surveying patients in real time improves hospital functions from top to bottom.
For patients, accessibility is key. iPods with the surveys are given to patients by hospital volunteers, providing convenience and mobility as patients are sent to other parts of the medical center. Easy-to-use technology allows patients to answer survey questions quickly and easily, communicating the most accurate recollection of their experience in the emergency facility. Tift Regional Medical Center can identify key points in the patient experience without weighing down patients with piles of paperwork. iPods make survey taking seem exciting for users new to the technology. It also creates a visible communication focus, highlighting to patients the hospital’s dedication to improving patient experience and responding to patient concerns.
Clear answers make healthier patients. Patients can input relevant information that is quickly documented. Physicians can call up survey feedback, past and present, easily and promptly. Better communication means enhanced physician understanding, necessary for moving toward better patient care.
The hospital benefits from this new technology extend beyond patient interaction. Being able to express their concerns instantly encourages accurate feedback from the patients, giving hospitals a clearer understanding of the patient experience. Digitized responses are easily stored and survey results require no data entry or administrative delays, improving documentation and speeding up analysis for hospitals to make necessary reform. Hospital accountability is enhanced and treatment is improved.
From the data-collection and communication enhancements to the accountability and patient experience benefits, real-time surveys are a means for hospitals and medical centers to improve patient care and safety.