Why You Shouldn’t Hire a Document When What You Need Is a Team Member

The “Curriculum Vitae”, otherwise known as the resume, has been around since about 1482. Created by the great Leonardo de Vinci, the professional “CV” offered a quick and efficient way for hiring managers to estimate whether someone might be a good fit for a job. Unfortunately, “guessing” your way to the perfect hire just isn’t a good idea.

A CV tells a hiring manager a few distinct things about a potential candidate. With a CV, you can tell where a person worked before coming to your company, how long they spent in each job, and which official certifications they have. That’s about it.

Unfortunately, none of those things are enough to guarantee a good hire. In fact, the number one reason new hires don’t work out has nothing to do with previous experience or technical qualifications. Most hires fail because of poor cultural fit.  

The Problem with Relying on CVs

The idea that technical expertise or a background in a certain industry can 100% guarantee a successful hire is outdated (and a little insane). Currently, 73% of professionals leave jobs because they just don’t feel comfortable with the internal culture. What’s more, countless experts agree that people don’t leave “bad jobs”, they leave “bad bosses” and bad internal experiences.

The workplace is full of numerous moving parts, all of which have a distinct job to play. However, if those parts don’t mesh with each other, nothing really gets done. Unfortunately, the old-fashioned hiring process, focused primarily on the CV, paves the way to hiring mistakes.

If you think of hiring someone like buying a t-shirt online, hiring with a CV is akin to buying a shirt in your size, without knowing anything about the cut, what it looks like, or even whether the design is comfortable to wear. It “should” work as a shirt – but you might not be happy with the result.

As intrinsic as they may seem to the hiring process, CVs are more hindrance than help to the average hiring manager. They convince HR experts they can pick the perfect person for a role based on their previous job roles alone and cause us to forget about the value of cultural fit.

Innovative work simulator company, Unboxable, says around 74% of employers currently admit to hiring the wrong person, and the majority of the time, the incorrect hire comes as a result of poor cultural fit. Unboxable believes that when you focus entirely on the CV, you forget to consider the “human” aspect of the hiring process – i.e., what goes on beyond technical skills.

So, What if We Forgot the CV?

The average cost of a bad hire can be around 30% of the employee’s potential first-year earnings. If you’re hiring a staff member with a $100,000 annual wage, picking the wrong one could cost you about $30,000. That’s a lot of cash to balance on the insights you can get from a single piece of paper.

So, what if we turned the hiring process upside down entirely? Instead of trying to match words on a CV to words on a job description, why not match characteristics in an employee, to the values that make your team thrive?

Unboxable replaces CVs and checkboxes with job simulators which help companies to develop a deeper knowledge of their potential candidates’ attributes, like detail-orientation, communication skills, or the ability to work well in a team.

You still get to test the technical skills of the employees, by testing them in the kind of role they’re going to be working in. However, you can also evaluate the human side of the candidate and consider how they’re going to mesh with their manager, and the rest of the team.

Anyone can write a CV that checks all the right boxes for a role, simply by copy-pasting the keywords from your job description into their application. There are thousands of people out there with skills in things like PHP and Ruby on Rails, but only a handful who will work well as part of your budding start-up. Focusing on CVs alone mean you miss the little details in the hiring process which make all the difference between an “ok” hire, and an “amazing” one.

Hire a Person: Not a CV

A member of staff isn’t a conglomeration of previous work roles and time spent in classes. Your employees need a certain selection of technical skills, and experience working in specific environments – but they need a lot more than that too.

A good employee is someone who can do the job given to them – a great one is someone who can help your business to actively grow, by doing the right work. Companies like Unboxable have begun to recognize that and introduce new methods of evaluating and understanding potential candidates as a result. Now it’s up to hiring managers to make the transition too.

Dealing with Angry Customers When You’re Short Staffed

The scene is a common one these days. Lines of people waiting to pay in a restaurant, retail establishment, or grocery store. Tempers flare. Customers yell at staff and wonder why there’s only one person checking people out. Your staff thinks, “Who needs this?” and they’re not wrong. They feel overworked and underappreciated. Customers are demanding and loud. Customers vow not to return. It makes for a bad situation for everyone.

So what can you do to ensure it doesn’t happen in your business?

Dealing with angry people during a staffing shortage is not easy, especially since one problem creates the other. People are angry because they have to wait. People have to wait because you are short staffed. No one wants to work in an environment filled with angry people.

Here are some things you can do to diffuse the situation.

How to Deal with Angry Customers When You’re Short Staffed

Put People Where They’re Needed

As a manager or owner, when you are short-staffed you will always be assessing what needs to be done and who is around to do it. Make sure you have people in the most critical customer-facing spots and pull them from other areas as needed, even if only for a few minutes.

Ensure your employees feel empowered to help one another with overflow. If they are on rack duty, for instance, in your retail establishment make sure they know you appreciate them helping out at the cash register when a line forms. This means you will need to take the time to cross-train everyone and make sure they are comfortable working in all areas of the store/business where appropriate.

Stress That Everyone’s a Manager

Often when people are disgruntled, they will demand to see a manager. While there are some decisions that only a manager can make, help your employees feel confident enough to take the reins in these situations and insist that they are decision makers. They can reiterate that the manager issued the protocols they are following.

When they call you every time a manager is needed, the customer quickly learns the person they are dealing with is a low person on the staff chart and no longer feels the need to listen to them. You are also rewarding bad behavior done against your staff.

Achieving this level of confidence in your employees means you have trained them to make decisions and they know what freedoms they have to assist your customers. Help them understand what rules may be broken or stretched and which ones are absolutes.

Explain the Situation

While you never want to apologize for something that hasn’t happened yet, it is a good idea to remind everyone that you are doing your best. In fact, you may even want to add a “be kind message” to your help wanted posters. Explain that if they want things to be processed quicker, you would love additional help. Using a little humor can go a long way to diffuse difficult situations.

Play Good Music

If you have the right staff and it fits your business, try playing some good tunes; the type of music that gets people moving. Encourage your staff to sing or invite others to burst out into song or dance. This may sound goofy but it’s hard to be in a bad mood when the song “Walking on Sunshine” comes on the radio.

Speaking of sounds…

Soothe Them with Voice

The human voice can affect mood. A whiny voice can put customers on edge while a loud voice can make them feel more combative. With a confident, soothing voice you can make people feel understood and less prone to anger.

This hiring crisis is a challenging time for managers, staff, and owners. Just when everyone wants to get out and enjoy life again, their favorite businesses are struggling to hire. Some have had to shut down because they don’t have enough employees to operate. These tips will help you calm tempers until things can return to normal employment.

4 Spring Cleaning Data Tips for More Sales

While we are quickly heading toward the heat of summer, there’s still time to do some spring cleaning with your data. A nice clean email list can help you make the most of your ecommerce and increase summer sales.

Let’s get started.

Ways to Spruce Up Your Digital Marketing for Increased Sales

Customer data is great but only if you know what to do with it. Many businesses moved to online sales with COVID and, in turn, received a lot of good data from customers. But it’s time to get in there, do some spring cleaning of your database, and a few other things to position you for a hot summer sales season.

Segment

Did you get every name on your list the same way? Or did they get added through a variety of sources including ads, referrals, point of sale signups, and other ways? Likely, it’s the latter.

If you acquired your list members in various ways, take a moment to look into what each way tells you about them. Did they come to you after an e-commerce transaction or sign-up as part of a contest? How you got them is as important as how they continue to interact with you.

Look for ways to give them more of what they want in a personalized way by understanding what brought them to you in the first place.

Remove Non-Deliverables

You know the bounce backs you get every time you send? Look at the list and check for any obvious problems. Sometimes people hit the wrong key and you end up with .cmo instead of .com. Many bounce backs are due to key errors and are easy to recognize. Fix them. If it’s not obvious why they aren’t going through, get rid of them. You don’t want to pay for contacts that aren’t valid.

Get Rid of Dupes

Sometimes people get on lists from multiple ways, or they use different email addresses without realizing it. Take a quick scan for duplicate names. Do they share any of the same info? Could they be the same person? If so, do them a favor and merge the contacts. No one enjoys receiving two emails from you on each send, no matter how riveting the emails are.

Add Some Summer Spice

Depending on your business, you may see more visitors in the summer than during other parts of the year, on e-commerce or in-person. Since we’re talking about digital marketing here, look for ways you can add some summer spice to your website content, your newsletter, your landing page, and your email messaging. People are ready for fun times. They want school to be over and—unlike last summer—be able to do something. Play to that interest when creating or tweaking your content.

There’s an excitement in the air that has not been there for a while. Use this renewed energy to take a second look at your digital marketing. Make some quick tweaks and get ready for summer and increased sales.

50 Social Media Questions for Awesome Engagement

On social media you need interaction. Without it, your content won’t get seen by your audience. But getting people to interact can be a challenge. But not anymore!

Here are 50 conversation starters for your business. That’s about two months of work-week posts already done for you!

50 Fun Questions to Get to Know Your Audience

In order to mix these up and add a little excitement, we’ve also solicited answers through emojis and GIFs. You can alter the structure of these questions in a way that fits your audience.

  1. What item does your household go through the quickest?
  2. What’s your favorite scent?
  3. Tell us where you were born in a GIF.
  4. Tell us how old you are by sharing the top song when you were born.
  5. Beach house or lake house?
  6. Mountains or beach?
  7. Name your favorite car of all time.
  8. Tell us a secret that your parents don’t know.
  9. Best gift you’ve ever received.
  10. What’s your favorite breakfast food?
  11. What’s your favorite ice cream topping?
  12. What do you call a carbonated beverage? (soda, pop, Coke?)
  13. What’s the scariest movie you saw as a kid?
  14. Marvel or DC?
  15. Star Trek or Star Wars?
  16. Name a TV show you’ve seen every episode of.
  17. What show did you most recently binge watch?
  18. What movie can you watch over and over?
  19. What’s your favorite movie quote?
  20. What celebrity do people think you look most like? Tell us in a GIF.
  21. Share your favorite emoji in the comments.
  22. What’s your favorite book that became a movie?
  23. Tell us the name of a rock band using only emojis.
  24. Fill in the blank: Country music is ________.
  25. Would you rather be freezing or too hot?
  26. Show us in a GIF: what’s your biggest fear.
  27. What word do you always spell wrong?
  28. What’s the most embarrassing autocorrect incident you’ve ever had?
  29. If you had a theme song, what would it be?
  30. Name the best song to listen to when cleaning your house.
  31. What phrase annoys you when hear it? Or What word do you wish you could outlaw so no one would ever use it again?
  32. If you had one wish that could be used to fix a problem, what would you use it for?
  33. What thing do you wish you had invented?
  34. You’ve been invited to a party and need to bring something that begins with the last letter of your first name. What do you bring?
  35. If money was no object, what would you do for your business?
  36. What did you want to be when you grew up? Show us in a GIF or emoji.
  37. What do you hate that everyone else seems to love?
  38. If you could choose a new first name, what would it be? Or What would your superhero name be based on what you’re best at?
  39. Who do you wish you could talk to one more time?
  40. If you could select a mentor from any time period, without concern of a language/knowledge barrier, who would you choose?
  41. What’s your favorite sport?
  42. What fictional character are you most like?
  43. Tell us your favorite ice cream flavor in emojis.
  44. Give us a few words from an old TV commercial jingle that you remember. We’ll try to guess the product or service.
  45. What TV show should never have been canceled?
  46. The best business advice I’ve ever received is…
  47. Age yourself by naming a store/business that is no longer operating.
  48. Name a “non-traditional” combo of tastes that you love. (Example: French fries and milk shake.)
  49. What’s your morning routine?
  50. If your life was a movie, what genre would it be?

Remember, when someone takes the time to share their thoughts or preferences with you make sure you respond back. The best possible way is by asking another question based on their answer. Keep the conversation going as much as possible and the social media channels will deem your content important to your audience. Plus, you’ll get to know each other a little better. Since people buy from who they know, like, and trust, that’s always a good thing.

25 Marketing Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Today

Hope seems to be a big word these days. It’s taken the place of pivot. People are hopeful about recovery. People are hopeful about things returning to normal in the foreseeable future. And people are hopeful they can soon travel and visit loved ones they haven’t seen for a while.

If recovery is right around the corner, now is the ideal time to revisit your marketing strategy and plan. Making critical changes now can bring you into alignment to make the most of recovery. Plus, it’s possible the needs and desires of your target audience have changed.

Asking yourself the following questions about your business and marketing can help ensure that you have the data and information you need to make the most of the looming recovery.

  1. Who is your ideal customer? Has it changed with COVID?
  2. What is your marketing goal in 2021? What are your objectives/tactics for getting there? How will you measure success or how will you know when you’ve reached that goal?
  3. What is your brand tone? Try this exercise: “We are ____ but not ____.” For example, we are informative but not boring.
  4. What is your reputation in your industry and your community? What do people think of when they think of your brand/product/service?
  5. Where is your target audience on social media (Facebook, Insta, etc.)? Are they still easily reached where you thought they were?
  6. Are people still reading your blog?
  7. What customer problem do you solve?
  8. Do you sell through fear, inspiration, or solving a problem? Does that course of action still work for you?
  9. What is the open rate on your newsletter? Has that changed with the pandemic?
  10. Are you using a tracker that shows you where people are clicking on your website and/or newsletter? If yes, where are they clicking and where aren’t they clicking? What does that tell you about their needs?
  11. Do you have an email list?
  12. What data are you currently tracking and what are you doing with it?
  13. What kind of content do your customers like best/have the most interaction with?
  14. How many active followers do you have on each social media platform you participate on? How has that changed with COVID?
  15. Do your customers enjoy a type of content you are not providing such as podcasts or videos?
  16. What story are you telling?
  17. How much does your average customer cost?
  18. What are your customer retention strategies and how are you implementing them?
  19. How has your product or service evolved over the past year? How has your marketing message changed? Does it need to?
  20. What’s your call to action and does it fit where it is used? For instance, you don’t invite someone to buy when they’re just getting to know you on the About Us page of your website. Speaking of…
  21. What are you doing to help people get to know, like, and trust you?
  22. What part of your business is off-putting or scary for first-time buyers? What can you do to make it less so? For instance, gyms may be intimidating for the out-of-shape first timers. How can you reach them and be more inviting? A get-fit challenge is a solution to that because participants would know they’d be with other newbies.
  23. Do you have a defined success metric for every campaign you implement?
  24. In what area(s) is your competition falling short? In what areas are they strongest? How do you compare?
  25. How many referrals (and/or reviews) are you getting? What vehicle/strategy are you using to get more?

These questions are easily answered but implementing the answers/solutions takes more planning. It’s a lot of work now but once you put it in, you’ll be glad you did.

4 Reasons You Need to Get Involved with the Chamber Today

Businesses join the chamber of commerce for several reasons. Years ago, it may have been expected; just something you did when you opened a business and wanted to be in good standing in the community.

But these days it’s more likely a business joins because there is a direct advantage to them personally. Maybe they wanted a ribbon cutting or need the advocacy or wanted a marketing opportunity that membership allowed them.

Yes, there are many reasons to join the chamber and tons of benefits your business can receive from membership. But aside from simply writing a check and receiving a set of benefits, there are reasons why you should become personally involved with the local chamber of commerce.

Plus, the chamber extends its benefits to all of your employees so you can use chamber membership benefits as employee benefits. Share this with them as well.

4 Reasons to Get Involved with the Chamber

Let’s place the advocacy, marketing, advertising, and public relations benefits of chamber membership on the back burner. This article is about what the chamber can do for you and your employees specifically, not the business. Yes, the chamber can bring more attention to your business, which can create more sales opportunities, but these benefits and this personal involvement are things that can help you outside of the business.

Education Opportunities

The chamber has a number of education opportunities where you and your employees can learn about important matters for free (or at a very low cost). Chamber webinar topics may include things like diversity, how to excel in social media, and economic interests in your area. They can help you become a more well-rounded professional, change careers, or get up-to-date on important topics in the community.

Leadership Experience

The chamber offers a lot of opportunities to volunteer for different committees or events. You may find a volunteer position in a subject that interests you like women leaders, diversity, workforce development, or marketing. Not only can these volunteer positions be added to your resume, but volunteering could also help you meet people with similar interests and help you grow your professional network. Speaking of…

Networking

Getting involved with the chamber can help you meet more people and grow your professional network and make friendships. Even in communities where social gatherings are still mostly virtual, chambers have networking sessions to help you stay connected.

Business Expansion and Hidden Opportunities

As you grow your network, you may learn of additional business possibilities that you could add to your business or you could use to launch a new one. You may learn of seed money, grants, SBA funding, or private opportunities.

Often business deals get made before anything is formally published or requested. Being personally involved in the chamber may help you be a part of those types of discussions and make you aware of opportunities before they become public.

The same may be true of the hidden job market. A contact may tell you they’re looking for someone before posting it on a job site, giving you the advantage.

Chamber benefits for your business are amazing. They can really help you increase your number of customers and get your name out there. But those aren’t the only benefits. If you get involved individually, there are many benefits to your professional growth and career. Plus, those benefits can be given to all of your employees too. That can be a real selling point for someone looking for a great company culture.

6 Signs of a Healthy Business

Many of us have spent this year concerned over the health of our businesses or those in the community. Ultimately, a healthy business has a good balance sheet. It has more coming in than it does going out. But that is not the only indicator of business health.

In today’s world, where a quick decision from a politician can radically affect your business overnight, it’s important to know the early indicators of business peril. This of these things as your business’ “canary in the coal mine.”

Signs Your Business Is Healthy (before you see it on the books)

Before you see any issues in the balance sheet, you can spot a healthy business in these areas:

  1. Referrals. While it’s never easy to get people to refer you even when they love you, a healthy business harnesses the power of the referral and makes it easy for happy customers to bring in more happy customers.
  2. Reviews. Just like referrals, reviews are the signature of a healthy, well-loved business. But they don’t happen automatically. A healthy business asks for them, makes it easy to give them, and repurposes them in their marketing collateral.
  3. Promotes from within and trains accordingly. A healthy business promotes from within with clear pathways to additional challenges even when the business is small enough not to have additional levels to climb. It recognizes employees who are committed to the business, doing a great job, and those that require additional challenges or training.
  4. Looks for needs. If your business moves in another direction, opens a new market, or branches out, you may not be able to promote from within. A healthy business is clear about what each employee’s strengths are and what they may need to obtain from outside whether that be from an additional hire, vendor, or partner.
  5. Builds loyalty outside of sales. Loyalty is not owned by the sales department. Loyalty is built by customer service and marketing. A healthy company looks for ways to keep customers engaged and feeling like they are part of the brand. It creates enjoyable experiences for customers at each touchpoint whether they are calling to complain, buy, or simply spend time on social media.
  6. Remains agile. This one is certainly a lesson learned in 2020. A healthy business must be ready to align its offerings and services with those of their loyal customers and the larger market. Small businesses may not have had a lot of operating capital when the pandemic hit but they did retain the ability to move quickly and that helped a lot of them stay in the black.

Is your business healthy outside of the balance sheet? Go through this list and ask yourself how many of these qualities your business meets. If you’re missing a few, you may want to see how quickly you can add them. After all, they are a good indicator of business health long before you begin to see signs of trouble in the balance sheets or books.

3 Marketing Mistakes to Avoid as We Move Toward Recovery

News stations are finally embracing the word that COVID numbers are going down and vaccine administrations are going up. That’s allowing people to see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. If you have weathered the storm so far, you know your business is not completely in the clear. There are always unexpected challenges like freak snowstorms and mass electrical outages that are keeping us all on our business toes, regardless of where you sell or operate from. Nothing will tell you faster how interconnected we are than understanding how weather in one part of the country can stimy business operations in another.

But as we begin to see COVID numbers drop and (eventually) restrictions loosen, there are several common marketing mistakes you’ll want to avoid.

Just Getting the Work Done by Putting Out Fires

“The world hates a vacuum.” Have you ever heard that phrase? Said another way…wherever there is emptiness, it will become full. The same is true of your business day and marketing. You can be busy putting out fires, doing the busy work, or you can grab command of your day and insist on purpose.

If you come up with and commit to accomplishing 2-3 things for your marketing each day, you’ll get more done each week and start to really see a difference in your business. Many people will argue that they come up with goals but are then derailed by more important things that need their attention.

If you find this to be true, you’re either not prioritizing well or you’re letting the demands of others derail your business goals. Always ask yourself with each activity you take on during the day, “Is this moving me closer to where I want to be in my business or is it setting me adrift from my goals?” Once you begin framing everything that way, you will find it easier to stay on task.

That is not to say, your marketing goals never need to be adjusted. If there’s one thing COVID has taught us, it’s agility. We need to be able to bend and redirect. But always do so with the business in mind. If you’re going to rebalance your goals, do so with the destination in mind, not as a reaction to a “squeaky wheel.”

Being All Things to All People

“Everyone” is not an ideal customer. Even if you think “everyone” loves your product and service. Case in point, let’s say you’re in the business of making really wonderful coffee, and you charge $6 a cup for it. First, everyone doesn’t love coffee. Secondly, not everyone sees the value in a $6 cup when there are options at lower price points. Yes, some people understand that you roast your own beans and that makes a difference in the flavor and some people will love you have six different types of organic creamers. Those people are your ideal customer, not people who buy $.59 cups of coffee at the gas station.

But if you think all coffee drinkers are the same, you could spend a lot of money trying to reach the economy buyers who will never spend anything with you. Instead, focus on reaching people who will appreciate your home-roasted beans and fancy creamers. They’re more likely to convert when you get your messaging in front of them.

Ignoring Analytics

We get it. Numbers are scary. But you’ll never know how you’re doing if you don’t look. Check out your Google Analytics but don’t get fixated on today’s (or even yesterday’s) data. This resource is most effective when you use it to track changes and notice what moves the meter over time.

You can use data to tell you what content topics resonate with your audience, what referral sources are your most lucrative, and whether you’re spending your ad money wisely. Let’s face it, no one has money they just want to throw away, especially now.

So, take a look at those numbers and the trends. They’ll become a good road map for you going forward.

7 Quick Ways to Get More Upsells and Referrals

You current clients/customers are likely an untapped resource of additional revenue. After all, it is much easier to sell to someone who already likes you than it is to win over a new person.

But there’s a lot of competition out there.

There’s a saying in the restaurant industry that a diner who described their meal as “satisfactory” will never be back again. In order to get return customers, upsells, and referrals you must do better than just meeting expectations. You must exceed them.

Thankfully, as they say, the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is just a little extra. In this article, we’ll give you seven quick ideas on how to create those extra opportunities that will translate into greater upsell and referral opportunities. When someone is “wowed” they will buy more and talk about you (exactly what you need for referrals).

How to Go from Ordinary to Extraordinary for More Upsells and Referrals

  • Offer samples without people requesting them. When someone is looking at something in your business, offer them samples. Don’t even ask. One restaurant brings individual samples of gelato to the table at the end of the meal. Even if the diners don’t buy any, they leave with a (literal) pleasant taste in their mouth which could yield a return visit or referrals.
  • Send/give swag. If you mail your products or bag them, consider adding something unexpected in the package. Pure Vida sends branded stickers. Some companies stick in a postcard. The surprise needn’t be expensive. The point is it’s unexpected and that is delightful.
  • Invite engagement. Make sure every purchase is accompanied with a request to engage on social media but don’t make it about you. Most people are excited when they make a purchase, and they want to show it off. Invite them to share a picture of themselves using the product or service. Give them a hashtag and perhaps some incentive to share such as a contest entry or a future discount. If you have a well-known brand sometimes simply retweeting them and being on your radar is enough.
  • Send “just because” discounts. Some companies send birthday offers but not everyone feels comfortable giving you their birthdate these days. Instead, send “just because specials” periodically and thank them for being a fantastic customer. If they haven’t purchased recently, tell them you miss them and give them reason to return.
  • Drop expiration dates. If you use coupons, don’t turn someone away because their coupon is past the expiration date. Make it well known that you will accept coupons whenever the customer is ready to use them.
  • Put everyone to work. It may not scale to have your CEO or owner answer customer support questions all day. However, giving leadership the opportunity to field the occasional question or post a response on social media or to a review can make someone’s day and get them talking about you. The customer will be in shock that leadership responded. And it will make them (and everyone who reads the interaction) think that leadership is reading every review or comment.
  • Follow and respond on social media. Don’t simply post what’s going on in your world. Learn what’s going on in your customer’s as well. Set Google alerts for mentions of your business, what you sell, and your area. Listen to conversations going on around you and join them when it makes sense and when you can add value. Also, don’t hide behind the brand. When you are posting, use your name even if you’re responding from your brand’s account. People are more likely to interact with a person than a company name.

If you want to cut through the noise and get more upsells and referrals, you want to make people feel special and valued. Think about experiences you’ve had as a customer. How can you replicate those in your business?

6 “Better Than Surveys” Ways to Find Out What Your Customers Think

A few years ago, a trend hit—customizing your offerings to what your customers wanted. It involved surveying every part of their experience and shaping your business based on results. Customer-designed offerings kept a lot of businesses alive during COVID. The idea is a great one, give them what they want, make them feel important, and they’ll return.

This premise was so widely adopted that we all became professional survey takers. Now every moment you spend with a business (online or in-person) is followed by a survey on your experience. From airlines to doctors, they’re all doing it. These requests are exhausting and make people regret giving out their emails.

But it’s important to ensure your business offerings are in-line with what your customers want, right? So how do you ensure this without giving them survey fatigue? Here are a few ideas that will help you get the information you need without annoying them.

Skip the Survey: Learn What Your Customers Want in More Meaningful Ways

  • Exit Drop Box. If you have an in-person business, at the end of the transaction give people red and green poker chips (they can be made out of cardboard) and ask them to drop the color that best fits their experience today in the box by the door. The other one can go in the recycling box. This gives you a quick idea of whether your customer experience for a given day is as good as it should be.
  • Website Pop-up. At the end of an online transaction, give your customer a single question based on something you want to know. Make it a radial button answer for a quick response. Don’t ask a generic question like “did you enjoy the experience?”. Make it something more revealing like “did you find our website easy to navigate?”. Ask different questions each week but stick with one at a time. Add a meaningful thank you message after they answer.
  • Social Media. Post a customer experience or product/service question to social media but invite people to answer in a fun way by using emoticons, for instance, to signify their most recent experience doing business with you. Or ask them to use a gif to describe it. It’s not an exact science but it can be fun.
  • Interactive menus. Thanks to COVID, a lot of businesses like restaurants aren’t using paper menus. They’re using QR codes to access online menus. If you’re using online menus in your business, make them interactive. Allow people to hover over and see pics of the items and add comments or use emoticons. These “comments” then serve as social proof for future customers.
  • Text. Remember passing notes in middle school asking someone if they liked someone else? You can do the same funny type of question using SMS. Make it creative and fun and people are likely to respond to it. You can use that same middle-school format leveraging you against your competition in an “us or them” rivalry. You may not always get the answer you want but it can be fun for you and your customers.
  • Reviews. Forget polls and surveys. Those things are just for your own info and other than giving you an idea to change your business for the better, they don’t really do anything for you. Reviews, on the other hand, do. So, the next time you want to put a survey in front of your customers, consider asking them to review you instead.

Surveys are great tools for learning more about customer experience but these days they’re too overdone. No one has time for them and they’re mildly annoying when they clutter up the email inbox. That doesn’t mean you should forgo asking your customers’ opinions. You just need to do that in a fun, less intrusive way.