Sales Tune-up

DIY Survey Kit with Feedback

This kit is only available by purchase.

Sales Not as You Expected

You launched your business or new products, you are a few months or maybe a few years in operation, but it’s not taking off as you planned, and the bank, investors (or both) are putting pressure on you. Don’t panic. It’s time to rediscover your customers and prospective customers, so you can align your business for success.

Introduction to DIY Kits

Medynsky & Associates has created the DIY Kits to help start-ups to conduct their own Voice of Customer research, and with M&A’s other kits that are available, you will be able to get a broader understanding of how to help your business thrive. For some businesses this can make the difference in getting financial support from the banks, investors, and shareholders, because sales determine many factors of success.

The DIY Kits were designed to help you better understand your customer and also support you through advisory. M&A also offers additional support packages so you’re never alone when it comes to understanding the customer and taking action through your marketing efforts.

How to use the kit:

  1. Use the sidebar navigation to go through each section
  2. Watch the tips videos that highlight key points
  3. Follow the exercises and make notes as you go
  4. Watch the tutorial videos – you can pause and rewind too!
  5. Download and use the templates and follow the tips and hints!

And, most importantly, you can keep coming back to the kit for reference. 

Here is a quick overview of the benefits of Voice of Customer Research

It’s time to check in with customers and prospective customers, so you can align your business for success.

Make sure to follow our Case Study examples throughout the sections and in the Case Study tab. Entrepreneurs with an idea for a new product, recently launched brick and mortar store, online retail store, and someone following their passion. They have all shared their learnings by following the steps included in this kit.

Look for the Case Study icon!

PART ONE

What You Need to Know

Importance of Voice of Customer Surveys

Congratulations! You are taking the right step, and on your way to ensuring that your business thrives, and your connection to the customer grows and blossoms with your business.

Voice of the Customer (VoC) Research is a very important part of ensuring that new products will thrive, businesses will grow and keep growing, and eliminates the guesswork and hours of predicting the customer by simply asking. VoC research starts with a strong survey – many think of surveys as being something that people don’t complete and that’s because they weren’t prepared properly.

VoC Research can also uncover issues that prevent your business from growing! A good survey enlists the current customer and prospective customer to give feedback to guide the business – the best surveys are the ones that uncover rich insights that you never considered. They can indicate where businesses have made the wrong assumptions about the target customer, and provide a perspective of the customer after launch that can make the difference between success and failure in the early years of start-ups. VoC Research can also uncover issues that prevent your business from growing!

Preparation Tips

Here is a check list to think about before getting started.

Questions Make the Difference

(Asking the Right Questions)

A strong survey includes the questions that prompt open dialogue, idea exchange, and an opportunity to probe deeper into the feedback that people provide. Good surveys have well defined and clearly articulated questions that don’t include any bias or lead people to answer in a certain way, and the questions can bring answers to the challenges that keep leaders up at night. We will discuss more on this topic in the upcoming sections of this kit.

Opt-in Considerations

Participants must have the option to opt-in to receive your survey similar to people opting in to be contacted or if they would like to receive your newsletter. This could also be a checkbox on your website if you deploy your survey from your website.

Here is a sample “opt-in” message that you can use:

You are receiving this message because your name is on our _________________ [fill in how you know them] and we are asking for your permission to contact you with our feedback survey. Please click yes.

 Tip:

You can use this template for your message to potential participants.

NOTE: The message is applicable for business-to-consumer and business-to-business (Glossary). Make sure to send it in an email before you send the survey.

Tip: Always reference (in later surveys) that they opted in to be contacted, as it will motivate their response much faster.

Follow up after Survey

Think about the number of surveys that you have completed in your lifetime, and what can you say businesses did with the feedback that you provided? Most likely you don’t know because they didn’t follow up with you. Surveys provide an opportunity to check in with your current and prospective customers at different stages of your business, and also an opportunity to follow up and stay connected with participants. Let them know what you are doing with their feedback so they feel heard, and they will support your business since they will feel a connection to your business.

How to Store Survey Feedback

You will need to think about how you will store the information that you collect from the VoC survey participants. Before you get started with VoC research, set up a secure external drive offline that will warehouse all information that you collect. Document how you will store the information so you can mention your commitment to privacy in your communications with participants.

Survey for Success Considerations (Ongoing VoC)

VoC surveys should be an ongoing part of your business as it is a great opportunity to check in with people before you launch your product or business. Check in again once you have launched, and keep checking in with current and prospective customers so they feel connected. This way you eliminate any guesswork and surprises like sales declining in the future.

Be sure to make VoC an ongoing part of your business plans.

Compensate People for their Time & Feedback

One more point to consider is rewarding people who complete your survey as this will help to increase their support and they will feel like they are receiving something for the feedback and their time is valued. You can suggest their name will be included in a contest for a prize if they opt-in or you could pay people to complete the survey in the form of a gift card or provide future discounts on your products and services. More on this topic in the “Survey Structure” section.

This kit is only available by purchase.

Here are some very important considerations for all stages of your businesses – from the early days after you have launched to the later stage when you’re established and you are looking to prevent the sales decline that occurs when people and markets change. The tips will apply as long as you are in business.

Checklist & Privacy Tips

We touched on the importance of privacy in Part One. Here is a checklist to help you plan and take the appropriate steps.

  • Purchase an external drive that will remain offline and it will be used for the exclusive purposes of VoC research (designate a USB just for this project)
  • Create folders on the drive that are clearly labelled by date and how/where you collected the feedback (this will help to organize the files)
  • You will need to store the external drive in a safe and secure place
  • You will need to ask participants for their consent to contact them as well as their permission to collect their information. (See the opt-in sample email in Part One)
Video Tutorial #1: How to use the Survey Check List Template

Tip:

Download the survey check list template to help you keep track of the details

Create a Profile of Your Customer (Persona Profile)

Now that we have the confidentiality piece addressed, we can begin with the survey considerations. The first step is to get you to create a Persona Profile or a profile of the type of individual that you believe is your target customer – this will help you to determine if your assumptions about the target customer are correct. We will come back and review the profile if you purchased the Analysis and Taking Action DIY Kit.

Before you begin scoping your survey questions, complete the Persona Profile worksheet. This step will help you to determine the questions that you will need to ask in order to validate your assumptions. Once you have the document, go to the next section: Tips for Preparing Persona Profiles.

Video Tutorial #2: How to use your Persona Profile Worksheet

Tip:

Download the Persona Worksheet Template and outline your assumptions about your customer.

Tips for Preparing Your Persona Profile

It is recommended that you circle back and complete the worksheet once you have finished your VoC research so you can compare notes and prepare your marketing or marketing communications plan.

Remove Any Biases

It is important to look at your customer with a fresh perspective, and equally important to remove any bias and blinders, and assume that you don’t know anything about them. Put any ideas about the customer on hold for now, and you can come back later to validate your assumptions as you move forward.

Consider Your Assumptions about the Customer (Target Customer)

What assumptions do you have about the customer and prospective customer? For example, how old are they, where do they hang out, do they care about quality or price, what matters most to them? How do you know.

Why People Buy Your Product/Service

Think about the reasons why someone would buy your product or service.

  • What is in it for them?
  • What problem are you solving for them – do they know it’s a problem?
  • How big a problem is it for them?
  • Why do they want your product or service over a competitor?
  • What will keep them coming back to your business?
  • How do you know?
  • Do you have anything to support your assumptions at this point?

Important Tips:
  • Follow the check list
  • Watch the tutorial videos
  • Note assumptions

Audience Considerations

Who is your customer right now or who will be your customer?

  • Who could be the customer if you considered selling your products and services to those individuals – what do you think they need?
  • Do you think your current customers and prospective customers have the same needs and reasons to support your business?

Take a quick look at the Persona Profile that you scoped for your customer and create a new Persona Profile for your target customer (prospective customer) if you have customers who already “could be” your customer and follow the Persona Profile framework as outlined in the template.

Keep the Persona Profiles handy as we move into the next step of creating the survey.

 Hint:

Prospective customers are people who could be buying your products and services

Video Tutorial #3: Watch how to Complete your Persona Profile

Follow along with this tutorial to guide your assumptions before you begin the resesarch.

Tip:

List all of your assumptions and how you know at this stage. Then come back after the research to compare your notes.

Avoid Common Mistakes:

People often make decisions based on incorrect assumptions about the customer. You are taking the right steps to eliminate any bias and align your marketing efforts.

This kit is only available by purchase.
This kit is only available by purchase.

Asking the Right Questions

Start with what you know and don’t know for certain. Here are some points for you to consider.

  • Where is your business right now? Do you have customers now?
  • What do current customers say about your business?
  • Do you think the business is growing as fast as your competitors?
  • Are you challenging the status quo and creating an entirely new industry or a new category similar to our favourite music and movie streaming services? If yes, you will want to know as much as possible about the customer persona to target your communications effectively and gain adoption quickly because it can be a tougher sell to convince people if they don’t know the product! (You will need to go back to your Persona Profiles.)
    * If you’re not seeing the sales that you had planned, it could be because your product or service is different and requires a different approach. VoC will help you to rediscover your customer.
Here is another way to think about the the right questions

Questions you should consider:

We talked about asking the right questions and the possible considerations based on where your business is right now. Let’s start to frame some questions.

  • First, we will look at asking the tough questions and encourage you to consider the difficult questions – the questions that are difficult for you because you are afraid to hear the answers – usually an indication that you need to ask!
  • Secondly, we will look at two groups of people who should be part of your survey, but they each play a different role that you need to identify. Think about two survey groups that you need to learn about in order to keep loyal customers and also attract new customers to grow your business. Then, we will look at two more subgroups and classifications or what we call target customer segmentation.

Tip:

Current Customers = people currently buying
Prospective Customers = people you hope to attract

NOTE: Check the Glossary for a description of the terms mentioned in this kit.

Ask Tough Questions (for you)

Think about the most difficult questions for you (the business owner) that you might not wish to know the answers to because it could create change or you might receive feedback that you think is negative, but it will help to align your offering with the customer who will buy your product.

Important point:

The questions that you consider difficult often provide rich insights to guide your marketing efforts and help you to achieve your business goals. You don’t know if you don’t ask!

Sample Questions

Here are sample questions to get started depending on the stage of your product and business

For early to mid stage businesses with a product and customers:

Here are sample questions to get started depending on the stage of your product and business

1.0 Do you like our product? (Y/N)

Y = Participant moves to next question – either what do you like about our product with a comment response, or go to 1.1
N = What isn’t working for you? (Probe for more insights)

What are Probing Questions?

Probing questions provide the opportunity to dig a little deeper into someone’s perspective and understand what might prevent them from buying your product for example, so you can review if this is a common theme (many people say the same thing). Probing questions ask people to expand or explain their response – think of it like a reporter digging for the story. This would apply to a new product or service or a business that has recently launched.

Probing Questions Example:

Here is an example of a probing question that expands on the “Yes” response to the sample question above. A “Yes” or “No” answer really doesn’t tell us anything, so we need to go a little deeper into their response.

1.1 What could we do to serve you better? (Comment)

1.2 How does our product compare to other brands? NOTE: This is a ranking question on a scale from 1-5 with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest score.

Important:

Notice how the probing question example probes deeper to help us understand what people are thinking. It eliminates mind-reading!

See the Glossary for Ranking Question Definition.

Asking the Right Questions (the right wording)

It is important to be very clear with your questions so that people understand what you are asking, and equally important that you don’t guide their response. You want to ask questions that are open-ended so that people can share their feedback, and if you are looking to validate your assumptions about the Persona Profile, you will need to ask people in a way that doesn’t answer the question for them.

It’s almost time to create a survey. Let’s apply what we have learned so far in this section.

Case Study:

Let’s pretend that we have launched a clothing store, but we are not seeing the results as we had planned. What problem are we solving for the customer? Why would they come to our store when there are others? Do we offer something different? Do people know about us? You are starting to see the questions that we would need to ask.

Here are some sample questions for our start-up:

What type of clothes do you prefer? (casual / dress / athletic / fun / other)

What do you look for in a retail experience?

  • Price
  • Variety
  • Quality
  • Unique
  • All of the Above
  • Other (Please Explain)

We have an example of a retail store that launched and didn’t see the immediate results as planned. The owner conducted a survey and found out some very easy fixes that would bring more people to the store. Check out the Example

The same approach would apply if you are an online store or a store in a mall or something new that people have never heard about yet, you still need to learn about them. What makes them tick? What do they need? How can you help them?

Here is an example to follow. Notice how you would respond if you were completing the survey.

Remember: You’re not the target customer unless you are planning to buy a lot of Men’s clothes to help your business grow.

The Survey Structure

Now, you’re ready to bring it all together. Your survey should include: a beginning, middle, and an ending. Just like a good book!

Here is a recommended format to follow. A survey example is included in the Examples section.

Beginning:

Introduction: This is your opportunity to connect with the participant. Explain why you are doing the survey, what you will do with the feedback, and address the privacy concerns with the information that you collect. How will you keep their information confidential? Don’t forget to acknowledge that their feedback is valuable to you and your business.

Middle:

Quantitative Questions: (Also known as the multiple-choice questions.) Ask the easy questions first, then move into questions that might have two parts – this allows you to probe for deeper insights. Typically, you would try to keep it under 10 questions, but you can add some probing questions as a subset on the same topic.

Tips:

  • Be clear and direct with your questions
  • Don’t ask just “yes or no” questions – probe for more insights
  • Avoid too many questions and too many secondary questions, as it will annoy people. You know what it’s like!
  • Create a ranking system for opinion surveys (least to most important)
  • How many questions? Ideally 10 – 20 max (including probing questions)

Tough Questions Reminder: Ask the questions that may have negative answers or answers that may not be complimentary to your business because you really need to know!

Ending:

Qualitative Questions: (Also called the Comments section.) This is where you will often collect extremely valuable insights to guide your new products, your brand, and your business.

Tips: This section is not measurable, but you will be able to see common themes to guide your plans by following the later sections.

 Final Wrap-up: Participants should receive a thank you and appreciation for their feedback. Also mention how they will receive their thank you gift.

Compensation for Survey: Pay anywhere from $25 – $100 depending on the survey complexity and importance. (Gift card or cash or something from your business.)

View sample surveys to see how other entrepreneurs have asked the important questions to tune-up their sales.

Retail Store – Slow Sales

Restaurant Expansion

 B2B Tip:

Check out the B2B Case Study in the Examples Section
Why? Good Examples.

Notice they follow the guidelines we have covered:

  1. Probing Questions
  2. More than Yes / No Questions
  3. They ask “Tough Questions” like pricing
  4. Comments with direct questions
  5. Close the loop at the end
Compensation for Surveys:

People want something for their time and feedback. This can make the difference in support too!

This kit is only available by purchase.
This kit is only available by purchase.

Now that you have the survey ready, the next step is to prepare the list of people that you will ask to participate. Let’s go back to the groups in our survey structure:

Group #1: New Customers = people you would like to be your customer
Group #2: Current Customers = they have purchased from you before

You have launched your new product or new business, and you have customers, but you are not satisfied with your current sales – this is an opportunity to understand what could be keeping customers away. You will want to survey your current customers (this is a great opportunity to communicate with customers) and ask for their participation before you send the survey. Remember, you will need to ask for their permission to send the survey.

Once you have your groups clearly identified, the next step is to create a spreadsheet to help you track the distribution and completion of the survey. You can set up the spreadsheet the best way that works for you to track since this will keep you organized. You can track the progress as well as send reminders if people don’t complete according to your timeline.

Watch the appropriate tutorial video on how to keep track of survey participants using the template for email and website surveys.
Video Tutorial #4: How to use the Email Survey Tracking Template

 Tip:

How many people should you contact? The number of participants can make the survey statistically relevant. For a large target market, you will want to get a larger representation than a smaller target market. (Target market = your target customer group)

 B2B Tip:

You likely have a smaller population than a consumer business, so consider the size of your market. You can start with 25 participants.

Tip:

There is a Survey Tracking Template to guide you. You can add to it based on your needs.

Download and use the Email Tracking Survey template to help you keep track of surveys that you send by email

Video Tutorial #5: How to use the Web Survey Tracking Template

Download and use the Web Tracking Survey template to help you keep track of surveys that you host on your website?

A Few More Considerations:

Before we finalize the spreadsheet of possible participants, there are two more groups to consider.

Who are the Influencers? (Don’t know – survey to find out)
Who are the Decision-makers? (Don’t know – survey to find out)

If you sell to other businesses (known as B2B), there are influencers and decision-makers who play a role in the purchase decision. They can be equally important when it comes to successful marketing efforts – you need to determine the departments that play a role and how big a role. You can easily uncover this information in a survey.

Now, you might be saying that you sell to consumers, but they have influencers as well – people in their social media that they look to for advice or they could be the influencers in the decisions that others make. You might consider a survey to understand the influencers and decision-makers if you don’t know enough about their needs, and by understanding their role, your marketing investment will be much more effective.

Tip:

You need to find out who are the influencers and decision-makers – they can affect your sales!

Tip:

B2B = You sell to businesses like computer parts to a manufacturer

B2C= You sell to consumers

* Both groups have influencers and decision-makers

Bottom-line: You might need more than one survey to understand the different players, so keep that in mind.
This kit is only available by purchase.

PART FIVE

Deploying the Survey

Let’s recap what you have completed so far.

  • You have the survey questions ready
  • You have prepared the survey following the recommended structure
  • You have determined who will be the ideal participants so you have a complete picture of your customers including the influencers and decision-makers
Now you are ready to deploy.

You are Selling to other Businesses

If you are a business selling to other businesses, the best approach is an interview either in person, on the phone, or using an online meeting platform. The goal is to conduct a short interview following the questions that you outlined in the survey but remain open to feedback that participants share with you that you never considered. This is the recommended format for B2B since it will yield rich insights into the purchase decisions behind some of the most complex businesses. You could ask for their permission to record the session so you can play back later and prepare thorough notes.

Tip:

For Surveying Businesses:

Conduct a virtual meeting, face-to-face (when it’s safe), or telephone interview. Remain open to the discussion and feedback!

You are Selling to Consumers

Now, if you sell to consumers, you would deploy the survey using your favourite survey tool (Ex: Survey Monkey, Survey Sparrow, Google Survey, and many others available) and post your survey. You can set up your survey to be visible on your website that people opt-in to complete when they land on your homepage, or you can use a document that you share in an email and your social media networks. You could also survey people using a combination of email, your website, and social media networks in order to reach a larger audience.

Tip:

For Consumer Surveys:

Use the popular survey tools. Many are free to start and hopefully you gain confidence as you do more surveys.

Final Tips for Survey Success

Here is a recap of actions for you to consider:

  • Participants should receive something in exchange for their feedback
  • People will want to know what you will do with the feedback
  • Make sure to follow up and thank participants
  • Stay connected with participants (customers for the future)
  • Also, think about a timeline for your survey project. When would you like to receive the responses and what is your timeframe for the survey?
  • You might consider adding a date for completing your survey as part of the introduction to your survey. (Think about an end date.)

PART SIX

Wrap-up & Conclusion

You are on your way to collecting rich feedback to guide your marketing efforts at all stages of your business – from the early idea stage to understanding how to attract more customers to preventing a decline in sales because customers have changed. By checking in on an ongoing basis you will eliminate the surprises that can affect your business. Make VoC research an ongoing part of your business – as long as you are in business you will need to keep asking.

Glossary of Terms

B2B
Businesses that sell to other Businesses (Ex: Services Business).

B2C
Businesses that sell to Consumers (Ex: Retailer).

* You might sell to both groups, so you are a B2B/B2C business.

Tough Questions
Those questions that you are afraid to ask because you might not like the answer, but you need to know in order to make your business successful.

Ranking Questions
Rank the questions that are most important and least important to your business.

Qualitative Questions
The Comments Section is an opportunity for participants to share their feedback; often insights that you never considered could make the difference for your business.

Quantitative Questions
Multiple-Choice questions is the simple way to remember this term.

PLC
Product Life Cycle (PLC) refers to the stage that your business is at right now, ranging from Pre-Launch (Idea Stage) to a growing business or declining business.

Personas
Profiles of the ideal target customer described in a way that you can use for marketing efforts later.

VoC
Voice of Customer Research is not academic research, but a way to better understand your customer as their needs continue to change.

Here for You

The DIY Analysis and Taking Action Kit will look at how to analyze the feedback that you collect from your VoC surveys, as well as how to take action with the insights so your business keeps thriving.

Also, advisory packages are available to guide you throughout the VoC process. Consider the advisory package to help you with the analysis and taking action kit.

Thank you for choosing M&A to support you as you continue to rediscover your customer.

Case Study Examples:

Case Study #1: Retail Store – Slow Sales

The leader at a men’s clothing store noticed sales were flat and not increasing over the past few months, so they purchased the Survey and Analysis Kit with Feedback and Advisory. They conducted voice of customer research to understand what might be preventing sales from growing and followed the step-by-step process outlined in the kit.

The retail store survey example outlines very simple questions to determine if the pricing, store staff, lack of online presence, or the promotions were impacting sales.

The leader prepared the survey and checked in with an advisor throughout the post for feedback and advisory to clearly define the questions. They were reluctant to ask about pricing, and also afraid to ask what people really thought of the store experience – the leader was afraid of the responses.

Check out their survey example. Notice the simple questions and the tough questions, both designed to seek feedback to guide the business. Be sure to follow along and see the results if you purchased the Analysis Kit.

Examples:

Case Study #2: Restaurant Expansion Now?

The leader of a restaurant was planning to expand with a new location and offering: however, the pandemic impacted the restaurant industry. The leader and team were unsure about their plans and if customers would support the current and new location.

The leader purchased and followed the Survey & Analysis Kits with Feedback and created a survey to address the questions that would help to identify the customer’s perspective. The survey helps the team determine the offering and potential support from customers.

Check out their survey example with multiple choice ranking questions to help prioritize the importance in the customer’s mind. Apply this framework if you are looking to assess it’s the right time and offering – ranking questions will help you whether you’re in the restaurant industry or another type of service or product related business.

Download the new restaurant survey and results:

Case Study #3: Education Tech Platform Sales Declining (B2B Example)

A software company in the education market started to see clients moving to the competition which raised concerns about whether they would need to downsize. The team followed the steps outlined in the DIY survey kit to create a survey in an interview format to uncover the reasons why the customers were switching to another business provider.

The survey follows a B2B discussion with a few probing questions to help identify possible factors for the sales decline. The leader realized that this is not a telemarketing survey, and it was very important for the leader to be the one to conduct the interviews with the decision-makers at the administration level of universities.

Follow along if you purchased the Analysis Kit and see the results.

Check out their interview template questions created from the Do-it-yourself kit. Follow this template for your B2B survey.

Example File: