Worst customer service questionnaire ever

I use an online service for some communication support in my business. They’re okay. They don’t wow me but I haven’t found anything better at this point. I’ve had some minor technical issues and I’ve made some suggestions on their feedback site, but it’s all been fruitless.

Today I was given this survey when I logged in. It promised to ask me only 4 questions. Actually, they asked 5 questions but since one of those questions was a demographics question and the other 4 questions were about the service, I guess it’s a technical truth.

Here are the questions, copied and pasted from the survey:

  1. Based on today’s visit, how would you rate your site experience overall?
  2. Which of the following best describes the primary purpose of your visit?
  3. Were you able to complete the purpose of your visit today?
  4. What do you value most about the [name withheld] website?
  5. [demographic question? Which of the following best describes how often you visit this website?]

Questions 1 through 3 are okay, although they seem like a waste of questions if you’re only going to ask 4 questions. But I can live with that. It’s question 4 that bugs me the most. “What do you value most about the website?”

What do I value most? How about asking me “How can we improve?” or “What challenges is your business facing right now that we can solve for you?” Those questions are WAY more relevant than “What do you value most?”. The “value most” question is a stroking question to make the owners feel good about themselves… and totally avoids the more difficult question of “What can we do for you?”.

I just wrote my own answer in the text box anyway. It’s the same thing I’ve been telling them for a while in their feedback. Sadly, nothing will come of it and I’ll eventually move the service to another provider when I find a better one.

Sales cycles and offerings

So, I’ve been working with a client on his business and he asked a very good question and my response became long winded and rambly and now I’m summarizing it here.

Basically, the client is torn between two options:Offering a lot of free content on his site, or, offering a wealth of information but only after a prospect signs up.

The first option results in no customer loyalty (customers get free information from him and go elsewhere). The second option doesn’t get a lot of prospects signing up, but when they do, they stick and tend to convert. The first option, in many cases, is the most popular one today because a lot of information is freely available. I told my client that if the information he was offering was freely available elsewhere, then he should offer it for free. However, my advice was to offer some kind of unique, differentiating information and require a prospect to sign up.

Normally I might not suggest this for a lot of sites but once his prospects sign up, his conversion process is successful. He’s staying with that model and we are going to work on some ideas that will enable him to convince more prospects to sign up.On its own, that’s an interesting conversation, but it led into a far more interesting conversation and one that is relevant to nearly all of my clients. We talked about the sales cycle and the steps in a sales process.

And above all else, each step that you require a prospect to take in the process to become a customers should be a little, tiny step. In other words, you want to nudge your prospect along the sales process with baby steps so that each contact they have with you they are just slightly more invested than the last time until suddenly they discover that they are so completely bought into you that the next obvious choice is to give you their money.

Lots of companies have a sales process that is extremely basic: “we do this to turn a lead into a prospect and we do this to turn a prospect into a customer”. That might work fine. But it will work better if the process goes more like this: “we do this then this then this then this to turn a lead into a prospect and we do this then this then this then this to turn a prospect into a customer”.

Check out your sales cycle. Do you try to capture 5 pieces of information from your leads before they become prospects? Maybe that shouldn’t be one step but 5 steps. Yes, there are more times to potentially lose them, but I think the net result is actually positive: more people will be scared off by leaving 5 pieces of information than they will if they have to leave 1 piece of information each of 5 times.

Case study: Overbooked

The following is a case study derived from working with a client. To preserve confidentiality, I am only describing the problem and not the client.

PROBLEM: Recently, a client approached me with a problem. He was overbooked. He has a popular, in-demand B2B service and his phone was ringing off the hook. Outsourcing is an option but only in a limited capacity due to the demanding and legislated qualifications of the service. So my client instead wanted to be more selective in taking on customers and needed a process that would allow them to “weed out” undesirable customers.

SOLUTION: We worked on turning them from an “attracting organization” to a “qualifying organization”, two very different kinds of marketing. An attracting organization uses marketing to magnetize clients and draw them in. It’s the most common type of marketing for businesses because most companies need to attract clients. But for those companies that have plenty of prospects, a “qualifying” type of marketing needs to be used to demonstrate why not everyone can get the product or service offered.

Consider 2 restaurants in the same town: One has a lot of empty tables and offers buy-one-get-one-free coupons to attract consumers. The other has a line-up around the block each night so its marketing needs to qualify its clientele by talking about exclusivity and quality. No “BOGO” here!

RELEVANCE TO THE BUSINESS DIAMOND FRAMEWORK™: A lot of the work here is in the To-Market Diamond, since most of it is marketing related. However, there will be some Leadership Diamond changes as an organization switching to become a “qualifying organization” makes some decisions at the upper levels to change processes and vision. And, the Support Diamond is impacted because many support roles will need to change, either to assist in the qualification process or to deliver flawlessly each and every time. The Value-Add Diamond is impacted only in the sense that relationships with high quality suppliers will need to be strengthened to enable flawless delivery of the product or service.

Press release tip

Press releases are a great way to promote your business and drive traffic to your site. They offer measurable keyword advantages when submitted online and you might even get some local coverage if submitted offline (to a local paper).

But there is one make-or-break issue that I see often when asked to create a press release for a client: Newsworthiness. Press releases need to report some type of news: It might be an event, a sale, or some aspect of your business that has changed. In fact, this is a key reason why many press releases are rejected from online press release distribution sites or never followed-up when submitted to newspapers.

So, if you are going to write your own press release, or you are going to hire me to do it for you, spend a few minutes thinking about what makes your press release newsworthy. If you’re drawing a blank, give me a call and we can figure it out together.