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Cat Got Your Tongue? ​Getting clients talking


Though we hate to admit it, when it comes to decision-making, we like to see what the other guy picked. We want to know what our friend’s experience was. We want to confirm that we are selecting what most of the tribe agrees is the “smart” choice.

Do you doubt this is true? When you buy a bottle of wine, have you a) read the reviewer’s notes on the shelf tag; b) (in a restaurant) asked your sommelier for a recommendation; or c) asked friends what they have tried? When you are thinking about a vacation spot, do you ask friends about their experience or visit online review sites, like TripAdvisor? The experiences and opinions of those who have gone before you influence your impression and steer your choices.

In the business world, it is important to capture your customers’ experiences. Use those insights to present a “real world” view to prospective clients of what it is like to do business with you. So, how do you make it easy and comfortable for them to share their opinions and experience?

Follow-up surveys are the vehicle to get customers “talking” and provide a wealth of content for testimonials.

  • Let customers know that you conduct follow-up surveys as part of your quality program so that they expect to receive one.
  • Prepare a brief survey—10 questions or less—that probes their experience.
  • Compose the survey with “leading” questions—ones that won’t invite a yes or no only, but rather will encourage a thoughtful answer.
  • Be sure to include a block for additional comments.
  • Include a space for their signature, name, title and company, as well as a “permission to use…” statement that allow you to share their comments with others. Add checkboxes for “with name” or “without name” in case company attorneys or personal preferences prevent identifying the respondent.
  • You can email a document or use one of the many online survey services, such as Survey Monkey.
  • When you receive a survey back, be sure to send a personal thank you note in appreciation of their valuable time. Optionally, you may choose to include a small acknowledgement gift.
  • If you have difficulties getting responses back, try to incentivize participation, such as with a drawing for a valuable prize or a discount on future services.

Follow-up surveys are a valuable tool—for process improvement, to tweak the customer experience and most importantly to get customers talking about your brand. Hearing about someone else’s experience, will influence shoppers to become buyers and predispose them to have a positive opinion about your business. Let the cat out of the bag!

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