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Businesses supposedly use surveys to improve their service and product offerings all the time. The question is just how accurate are these surveys? For example, an international hotel chain recently asked me to complete a survey about their frequent stayer program of which I am a member. Here’s an excerpt of that email request to explain the positions I will take as we go along.

… We are conducting this research on behalf of a hotel company that identified you as a member of its loyalty program. If you qualify to take the survey, and complete it:

• You will receive 2,500 bonus points in the sponsor’s hotel loyalty program in appreciation for your time and valuable input.

• The hotel loyalty program that is sponsoring this research will be identified at the end of the survey.

The survey will take approximately 35 minutes to complete …

Initial concerns

I presume this offer is being extended to members of a certain level in the frequent stayer program. If my presumption is correct, these are folks who travel not just a few times but at least 15-20 times a year. By definition, those folks are busy and value their time; quite possibly more than monetary rewards. If all of the proceeding is close to on the mark, then 35 minutes is a lot of time.

The problem is I suspect many of their potential participants will view the incentive of “2,500 bonus points” as far too trivial to be worth their time. Honestly, I’d have been more likely to complete the survey with no incentive than one that basically insulted the value of my time. When I asked the question on Twitter: “What does it take to get you to complete customer satisfaction survey?” I got this response:

[insert image]

Like Ricky, I agree that the desire to provide feedback on a personal level can be a powerful inducement to complete a customer satisfaction survey. I am a fan of the brand in question and often complete brief surveys about my recent hotel stays. I complete these surveys with no incentive other than providing feedback that might make my next experience in that property a better one.

Gathering a meaningful cross-section

You want survey results that represent a cross section of your client or potential client base. How do you achieve that?

In the above example, it would have been quite easy. Look at the total number of frequent stay points each potential survey participant had earned in the previous 12 months. Offer them a minimum number of points to get one free hotel night or 10 percent of the points they earned. That would have gotten my attention in a different way. This post would read very differently and the survey would have been completed.

Does this suggested approach cost more? I would say, probably yes. Will the results be more meaningful and representative of a cross section of your guests? Again, I’d venture to guess yes.

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Continue Reading 1 comment }customer service 101

The 2012 Plan

by Jim Raffel on January 2, 2012

image of 2012 plan

Planning works. A year ago, I shared The 2011 Plan and last week I shared the success story of that plan when I wrote “How to make what you write come true.” Finding a planning method that works for you is, unfortunately, not so easy. I’ve settled on a method that combines Chris Brogan’s three words method and the visual thinking approach of Sketchnotes, which results in the drawing included with this post.

The 2012 Plan dissected

Growth – One of last year’s words was “customers” and it turned out to be the key word. We learned two important pieces of information about our customers in 2011: Who they are and where to find them online. Armed with that knowledge and the other two words in this year’s plan, significant growth of the ventures I am involved in is achievable.

Automate – Late last year, I had an “ah-ha” moment related to automation. A task worth doing manually is worth automating. If it’s not, then stop doing the task entirely. Your business is not truly systemized until most – if not all – of the business processes are automated. It takes more time to delegate and train those to whom you are delegating if the process is not automated. Automated tasks have a much higher probability of being done correctly.

Teams – It’s one thing to hire people to help you. It’s quite another to empower them to manage the team without you. This year, progress must happen without my involvement. Handing over business processes that have been automated is one way to ensure this outcome. While I can and sometimes will be a player on the teams I help create, I don’t intend to ever be the coach.

Back to growth

The strategy that came out of this planning exercise is: More and more of my time must be dedicated to tasks focused on long-term enterprise growth. Some might call this sales. I’ll be out searching for the relationships that allow us to partner our technology and knowhow with new audiences in 2012.

Here’s to an awesome 2012. Lets’ do this!

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Continue Reading 5 comments }motivation, personal development

G+ Brand & Business Pages – Jim Says

November 10, 2011
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For someone who had only had about 48 hours to work with Google+ pages, Shelby covered this topic well yesterday. Today I’ll focus on thoughts about the potential benefits and pitfalls of a business or brand having a Google+ Page. I’ll also share some basic getting started steps that worked for me. Also, at the […]

Concentrate on the bird in your hand

October 25, 2011
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The problem with building a marketing engine that works 24/7/365 is that at some point you are going to have to filter the sales leads and business opportunities that come your way. It’s not a bad problem to have but it’s one you should prepare for before it hits you. My general rule of thumb […]

What affiliate revenue can mean to you

October 11, 2011
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The picture with this post was taken just as the Milwaukee Brewers won game 5 of the National League Division Series. My wife and I were at games 1 and 2 of the series as well. With one child in college and another starting next fall, I’m 100 percent sure our budget would not have […]

How partnering and giving things away for free leads to success

October 4, 2011
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Recently, I signed up for the free version of TripIt. I liked the free version enough to give the Pro option a try. The first 30 days are free anyway, so my risk was zero. Then I found out that TripIt Pro is partnering with Regus Businessworld to include a year of free access at […]

The silly and the serious

September 2, 2011
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Running a business is serious but it doesn’t mean you can’t have a silly side. I’d argue that having a silly side probably makes you a better business person; especially if a big part of your day is interacting with others. Some of the most serious topics are best approached with a dose of humor. […]

Social Media ROI – Jim Says

August 31, 2011
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This week for our She Said, He Said posts we decided to tackle social media return on investment (ROI). I lead off today with my take and Shelby will follow up tomorrow. As usual tomorrow’s post will include topics for this week’s #shehechat over on Twitter at 8 p.m. CST each Thursday evening. Yes, you […]

Writing every day makes you a better business person

August 29, 2011
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Recently, I had to prepare three letters for the bank. As a small business owner, my personal finances are judged right alongside those of the business. As we worked to refinance our home, the bank wanted to know many of the details about my business. It required writing three separate letters to answer all their […]

The small business lifestyle

July 20, 2011
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I probably have an advantage in small business that you just don’t have. I grew up in a family that owned a small business. Okay, there’s nothing you can do about it anymore than I can do anything about being 5 foot 6 inches tall. I’d love to be taller but it is never going […]