Saturday, December 11, 2010

Implementing a Feedback Strategy for Your Business Plan

Ask any business owner or manager an they will quickly tell you that at any business level feedback is a crucial element of business imporovement. The feedback process is not only important for existing bsuiensses but similarly so for the entrepreneur writing a business plan or just starting. Whether you are using the snail method of writing your plan or using the latest in business plan software technology with feedback options build in, you need to keep in mind that your business plan will be updated on a regular basis. Where does the feedback come from? Well that is exactly what we are looking at in this article.

Online surveys can improve the efficiency, effectiveness and profitability of your business. To make it easier, we’ve developed templates on each of the survey types below, using proven market research techniques. These templates will give you an edge, and the right data, as you look for feedback on new ideas for your business.

Get Customer Feedback
One of the most popular uses of surveys is as a yardstick for customer satisfaction. Annual, semiannual or quarterly surveys serve as a barometer of your business’ health and allow you to monitor your performance over time. In addition, many businesses send out satisfaction surveys after each customer transaction, using the survey as a way to judge the effectiveness of individual employees and the product itself.

Test the Concept
Expanding your audience to include prospects allows you to check the receptivity of the market to a
product enhancement or a new offering. Sending a survey to two segments – a portion of your customers and a portion of your prospects – provides visibility into whether prospects require different messaging or education than was required to win your current set of customers.

Check Your Vendors
Surveys can help evaluate which vendors are best equipped to deliver the raw materials required to fulfill your product plan. You can send out a survey asking about their shortest lead-time, their standard shipping terms, etc. By downloading their answers into a spreadsheet, you can sort your vendors by those most capable of meeting your new requirements for faster shipping or expanded capacity.

Plan and Evaluate Your Event
A survey is an easy way to collect multiple data points from a large group of people.
Zoomerang users in the marketing and event planning departments have deployed surveys to ask representatives about their arrival times to a trade show, their requested shifts, etc. and have used that information to plan their event. Afterward, they deployed a separate survey to ask the representatives for their opinion on the value of the tradeshow, the number of sales attributed to it, and whether they plan to attend next year.

Gauge Employee Satisfaction
Online surveys are an ideal mechanism for soliciting employee feedback since they provide the
anonymity that is essential to candid feedback. Many companies use surveys to conduct
management evaluations and to ensure privacy Zoomerang can even deploy the survey for you.

Share Best Practices
Guidance is golden and Zoomerang users within associations or even loose groups of vendors are finding surveys an effective way to gather wisdom that they can’t find elsewhere. A quick survey on a how to handle a difficult business question generates responses that can be directly put into practice.

Get It On Your Calendar
Give yourself enough lead time to really learn what the survey reveals: too frequently surveys are
done at the last minute, which makes it impossible to act on the insight. In addition to a quarterly
customer satisfaction survey, consider sending surveys using this rotation:
Operational surveys after each transaction
Prior to regularly scheduled tradeshows and events
Marketing concept tests as product development dictates
Quarterly employee reviews
Quarterly vendor surveys
Semi-annual product releases
Annual employee satisfaction surveys
Benefit queries before changes in annual plans

Survey Deployment

There are several ways to deploy your surveys and each method has its own advantages. A one-time email broadcast to your entire customer or prospect base is a thorough way to communicate. If you
host your survey on your Website, you send a signal to prospects, customers and vendors that you
are constantly listening to them and receptive to feedback.

Building a real-time feedback loop into a number of sections of your annual business plan can
provide you with a way to be nimble – and knowledgeable – in your operations. Examine your calendar and your plan and ask yourself: would it help to test this concept or gather more information?

We acknowledge the guys at “ for contributing to some aspects of this article.

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