Where to start for small businesses
- Do lots of internet research looking at the websites of businesses doing the same as you worldwide, UK wide or locally.
- Follow them on twitter blogs Facebook and linked in
- Listen to your customers – use every opportunity to find out what it is that your customers want, what they value about what you do and where improvements could be made.
- If you get feedback that you can act on – make changes and let them know that you have done so – but you do not have to do everything that your customers suggest – you have to decide if it’s feasible or desirable for your business.
- You can a be a ‘mystery shopper’ for another business and then use the info to - or get in touch and ask if you can go and see them if they are not a direct competitor and are in a different area.
- Spend time deciding what it is you want to know from a survey (customer satisfaction, or testing out a new idea or product or plan for growth etc.) and make sure you have good clear unambiguous questions.
- Do not ask more than one thing in the same question.
- Make sure people have opportunities – blank boxes - for ‘freestyle ‘answers
- With multiple choice questions allow for people to say ‘none of the above’ and write a comment if they wish
- Ideally 2 pages of questions are enough
- Make sure people have a way of knowing how far through they are (egg 5 of 10)
- Make it look attractive and easy to answer
- Do a trial run with people who can test the questionnaire out for you to make sure it makes sense and will get the information you are looking for.
- You need to decide how you are going to get the surveys to people – e-mail, post or face to face
- You can offer an incentive for completing them – prize, voucher, free offer, entry to prize draw
- Include a stamped addressed envelope for the reply if you are sending them through the post
- You can buy addresses from Yell.com if you want to mail out to your area etc.
- You can generally expect about a third of people to reply – so send out 3 times the number of the responses you want to get back. 100 will give you meaningful information.
- Survey Monkey only allows you 100 responses for free – you need a subscription for more. Meena will provide examples of alternatives.
- Make sure you let people know what you have done in response to the information gathered.
- You can use face book to carry out small polls
- If you don’t know specifically what you want to know – hold a focus group – bring a group of people together and have a face to face discussion to find out what they think about your business service or product.
Making use of National Surveys
You can find out a lot of information about your business sector, or local area from major surveys such as the Mintel Surveys, Industry research, The Scottish Census website, NHS Health and Social Care statistics etc. as appropriate to your business. The Business Gateway Fulfilment Centre should be able to get this information for you (call 0845 6096611) this can provide you with all sorts of information about the context your business is operating in which can help you to make decisions about what you should do or how and to who you should promote your business.
If you want to employ a market researcher to do any of this for you – make sure they are a member of the Market Research Society.