Find out What People Really THINK – Part 2

October 4, 2017

Discovering Your Brand Through Perception Surveys

If you haven’t read Part 1 of this series, please click here.

Brand perception surveys should be part of your marketing plan. There is strategic way to complete these surveys and gather valuable feedback for your firm.

I have conducted several perception surveys where the interviewee only agrees to do the survey because it’s in person or over the phone. They tell me because the firm is making an outside investment in completing these surveys and not just emailing a survey, they are willing to answer the questions. Now that’s impactful. By investing in these face-to-face or phone surveys, your firm is showing a commitment and genuine interest in their perception. That says a lot about a firm — that’s part of your brand!

Face-to-face or phone surveys allow the interviewer to ask follow-up questions should the interviewee not give a complete or detailed answer. It also allows the interviewer to find out why the questions were answered a certain way. This is much more effective and beneficial to your firm.

For current and past customers, you will be asking about their experience with your firm. For your prospects, you’ll ask about their experience with other firms. For industry partners and vendors/supplier, you’ll ask about their experience from a working relationship point-of-view.

You won’t need to ask prospects about the operations of your firm, because they haven’t had that experience. Getting a hold of prospects can be challenging, because they don’t know your firm. My recommendation is hiring an outside consultant to conduct these surveys, because they are a third party. Many prospects will take 10-15 minutes to do a phone survey. Prospects will give you a lot of valuable information.

An industry partner is a firm that works with yours but doesn’t exchange money. For an architect, this would be an engineer, contractor, subcontractor, or vendors/suppliers. For a contractor, it would be the architect, engineer, subcontractors, or vendors/suppliers. For an engineer, it would be the architect, contractors, subcontractors, or vendors/suppliers. others I mentioned previously, and for an engineer, the others I mentioned. Interview the project team outside your firm. Although you don’t pay one another, you work very closely on projects together and have relationships with these other firms. Industry partners know your firm and work with your competitors, so they understand your industry and can make recommendations and suggestions.

Many times your current and past customers offer valuable insight on the process they’ve been through with your firm. You are too close to operations, so sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees. Having a customer explain the experience or make a recommendation based on their experience helps you come up with different ideas of delivering your projects. Many times, through this research, you discover their request actually costs little to no money to implement (besides setting it up and communicating with employees). Other times, the customer comes up with some crazy ideas — but use those to generate other more realistic improvements that you can implement.

An outside consultant, nu marketing, conducted these surveys for a mechanical contracting firm calling customers. The customer requested a more detailed invoice from the contractor within 24 hours of service instead of at the end of the month. Since the contractor was implementing technology in the field, the service technician filled out the service ticket in detail onsite and immediately sent it to the customer. This allowed the customer to approve it the day of the work. When the bill was received by the customer at the end of the month, it was more quickly paid because the customer has approved the completed work. By training the service technicians, dispatcher, and customers about the new process, it allowed a win-win for all involved. The customer received a timely and detailed service technician, the dispatcher could quickly bill the work, and the customer paid the invoice faster.

Several of the questions to all segments should be focused on marketing and business development. Finding out where they spend their time researching and learning is important. These questions would include:

  • What organizations, associations, trade shows, and conferences do you attend?
  • What printed or online publications, blogs, or websites do you frequently read to obtain industry information?
  • How do you find out about our professional services?

These questions are instrumental because this is where you’ll spend your marketing and business development time and dollars. It’s focused and targeted toward clients and prospects.

The individual survey results SHOULD NOT be shared with anyone besides the person conducting the interviews. This guarantees anonymity for the contact being interviewed and he or she will likely be more honest with their answers. The interviewer can then assemble a summary and raw results to share with the team. Depending on the size of your firm, the summary should be shared with all employees. This allows your employees to learn more about your company and how they can play a role in the firm’s brand. They may also find helpful tips to working with clients, as far as what works and doesn’t work.

Perception surveys aren’t for the faint of heart either. There may be some surprising or even hurtful words shared, but know that these will only help your firm grow and improve. It takes some self-reflection and you must be realistic with yourself. There are times where someone shares something that may not be true about your firm, but remember that is their perception. You can change their perception, but it will take some time to do so. You and your employees must be neutral and open-minded when reading the summary and results of perception surveys.