Ask the right people
Over the past month I have received a plethora of requests via social media or email to vote for various businesses whose owners, or directors, I have come in to contact with either this year or in years gone by but who I have had no trading experience with at all. I really would not have a clue how good their customer service is or how much their product has changed my life because I have not been one of their customers. As founder of Only Me Here, a company that supports micro businesses to develop and grow as well as promoting enterprise and entrepreneurship awareness, and co-founder of Enterprise Rockers, a community interest company working to make life in micro business better and fairer, I am passionate about promoting the benefits of running your own business but I also come into contact with an awful lot of business owners on a regular basis.
Personal recommendation is the greatest form of marketing and I am the first to promote a business that has offered me a solution to a problem in a most pleasant and effective way, I am not however about to cast my vote for a company that I have no trading experience with whatsoever. My only contact with many of these businesses is chatting to the owner, or board member, at an event and swapping contact details because we understand how creating a large network will help each other move our businesses forward; remember ‘your network is your net worth’. A handshake does not warrant me putting a cross on a voting paper or liking a Facebook page to confirm what their business does is great though and no amount of emailing or tweeting me will change my mind if I have not been one of their customers.
Customers: stay in touch with them
If you need votes for an award ensure you target your customers, the people that really understand about the product or service you offer. You do not however have to wait until you enter an award to get the thumbs up from those that generate your income; obtaining customer feedback on a regular basis is a great way to see where your business has strengths and weaknesses.
Information collected as part of a customer satisfaction survey can be used for all different reasons; to help develop new products or services; facilitate change in the way you operate your business; staff commendations; improving facilities – the list of benefits a customer feedback survey can bring is long but ensure you focus on the areas you really want to know about to benefit from the time spent engaging with your customers.
Do remember when you are asking your customers for feedback they are busy people as well and will be contacted regularly to ‘answer just a few questions’ about their purchasing experience. Ensure you offer customers an incentive to complete a questionnaire; it does not need to be a large thing but something that they will benefit from. This incentive does not even need to be something your business sells but could be something that is offered by another business that you could promote in return for some reciprocal promotion from them; whatever it is ensure the quality of your incentive reflects the quality of your product or service.
If you keep your customers happy they will want to vote for you and when you do win the award you will know that the prize truly reflects what your business delivers.