We all get them from time to time: emails from places we’ve shopped promising “quick” surveys in order to assess the buying experience. Most customers, however, soon learn the process is rarely as swift as advertised.
While it’s not hard to see why response rates to these survey requests tend to be abysmally low—often less than 10 percent of consumers to whom they’re sent respond—British entrepreneur Lindsay Willott is trying hard to increase that number.
Her solution is an email survey individuals can complete with just a single click. Rather than making customers navigate a series of questions about various aspects of the business encounter, she’s selling clients on the idea that simple is better.
When consumers get a survey from her eight-year-old company, Customer Thermometer, they have just four options: gold (very satisfied), green (happy), yellow (mildly concerned), or red (dissatisfied).
Because of the survey’s concise nature, clients can choose any number of delivery options, including emailing the survey to subscribers or embedding the quick poll into their help desks or marketing automation apps. Companies can even place them into the email signatures of their employees, allowing businesses to track how each team member is performing.
A New Level of Response
Prior to launching Customer Thermometer, which is based in Oxford, England, United Kingdom, Willott ran a marketing agency that sent out annual customer satisfaction surveys. She says the firm never had an effective way to link that feedback to a specific customer experience, which limited the value of the response.
“Customers were leaving without warning and often for reasons that could have been fixed, had we known about them in advance,” she says.
Willott came to the realization that a dramatically stripped-down approach to surveys was not only a lot quicker but had the potential for much better response rates. Nine months pregnant with her son, she sold the agency in 2010 and began working on her new customer feedback venture.
It was a bold move—and not simply because she soon had a baby to care for. For one, Willott admits she did not have much in the way of technical experience, a significant hurdle for any software-based business. After extensive research and planning, she partnered with local developers to get her idea off the ground. Four months later, the app was ready for launch.
“Early on, we focused on the UK market. We signed up a few customers, including [the telecom firm] BT Group, which was our chance to really understand how people wanted to use the product,” says Willott.
Eventually, several foreign companies heard about the service and signed on.
“It wasn’t until four years ago we really realized the potential of the overseas market and made a concerted effort to grow our international business,” she says.
Customer Thermometer managed to amass a litany of big-name enterprises to its client list, including Dollar Shave Club, Sonos, and the job-searching website Indeed.com. In total, the company now has nearly 2,000 customers in more than 60 countries.
Companies aren’t left with troves of data for analysis, but they do get a sense of what their customers’ overall experiences are like. Some of Willott’s clients now enjoy survey response rates of 80 percent or higher—a number that is far beyond the norm in the marketing research field.
“Our vision is to create surveys that customers actually love responding to because they use such a light touch and are fun,” says Willott.
It’s not just about having a sound idea, though. Willott says her small team of eight employees also makes sure customers get a high level of service to ensure positive relationships. Recently, Willott and her team became finalists for Customer Service Department of the Year in the Computer Software category at the upcoming 13th annual Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service.
“Our core values are caring about each other, accountability, and a genuine belief that amazing customer service feels like magic,” the executive adds.