customer researchIf you can understand where and how far your customer (or ideal customer) travels from to buy from you, then when writing your business plan you can factor this in to your marketing and operational strategies.

What customer-base do you have? If you haven’t got a customer list yet, what customer-base would you want? To calculate this, it might be as simple as counting the number of registered customers on your database. Or it might be a little bit more complex.

If you currently do not have a database of your customers, then consider setting one up on either a software program like Microsoft Access, or in a simple diary/notebook. Then you can begin to record names and addresses, and any other useful information about your customer (e.g. when they made their last purchase, what they bought).

This information will help show you where and how far your customers are coming from. Armed with this information you can target your promotions and marketing efforts more effectively.

Gathering the Data

How do you begin getting this information? You ask for it. And how you do this in business is by conducting a survey. These marketing tools are the secret to unlocking thousands of dollars in potential sales. They will tell you in much more detail than any other form of research what you should be doing to meet the needs of your customer.

You can ask customers to either complete the survey during their shopping experience, or you can give them a ‘take home’ copy of the survey for returning at a later date. You can even encourage more customers to complete the survey by providing an incentive such as a discount on their next purchase.

As with most businesses, Steve had the same problem with knowing this information about his customer. He had no definite idea of where his customers came from apart from the deliveries he did. He prepared a simple questionnaire, and asked each of his customers if they wouldn’t mind filling it in. When they asked him what it was for, he explained that it was to help him understand what his customers wanted, so he could offer them a better service.

The results that this questionnaire provided gave Steve an understanding about WHAT his customer wanted, WHY they came, and what areas he could IMPROVE on. He also was able to build his database with the names and address of those that filled in the questionnaire. This is a great tool that you can use to gather information.

Most customers will enjoy the fact that you are interested in hearing their thoughts, and want to improve your service to them.

The Next Step

We have provided you with a downloadable word document that you can use right away with your customers. All you need to do is modify it to suit your business and industry, and you’re on your way!

To get started, download your sample questionnaire template.

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