20 Apr

Customer Surveys: How a Common Mistake Could Be Ruining Your Business

Posted On: April 20, 2015 | Category: Our Opinion, Small Business Management

customer surveysA few weeks ago, I noticed a request to complete a survey at the bottom of my Chik-Fil-A receipt. Normally, I ignore these, but completing this survey would get me a free chicken sandwich, so I complied. (I’m part Scottish and married to a Jew; I love free.)

Filling out this survey was eye-opening in one particular respect. I was asked to rate my experience on a scale: from “Highly Dissatisfied” to “Highly Satisfied.” Because the service, food, and price were exactly what I expected them to be, most of my answers were “Satisfied.” I got my order quickly. The cost wasn’t outrageous. The quality of my food was the same level of deliciousness it always is. All in all, it was a good meal.

So imagine my surprise when I was asked to explain why I hadn’t been “Highly Satisfied” with my experience. Yep, Chik-Fil-A was not “satisfied” with a customer who was merely “satisfied.”

And this isn’t the only company who treats customer surveys this way. Friends of mine who work at Walgreens say it’s the same thing there. Although the company asks customers to rate them on a scale of 1-9, only 9’s count as positive results for the store. A rating of “8” is exactly the same as a rating of “1.”


The Non-Existent Scale

The idea behind this is admirable. Nothing less than absolute perfection is acceptable. But there is another viewpoint that’s being ignored, and it’s the viewpoint that should be first and foremost in every business owner’s mind: the customer’s.

Seeing a variety of possible answers looks—to the customer—as if they’re being given a plethora of different options. These kinds of surveys appear to present the customer with a variety of different options, but in reality they are only presenting two: perfection or failure.

The problem is that the customer doesn’t always know that the business is only happy with 9’s and above. They’re simply doing as they’re told, rating the store using the scale they’ve been given. Average visits get a “satisfied” or a “5.” But the customer’s version of an “average” visit might tick all of the boxes on the company’s definition of “absolute perfection.” Loyal customers are especially prone to this, as they are likely to be lulled into complacency with consistent red-carpet service (they’ve come to expect it, so it will no longer blow their socks off).

The Failure/Perfection scale can make you think you’re doing worse than you really are. So how do you combat this? By changing how you interpret the data.


Interpreting Customer Surveys

If you’ve been thinking about implementing customer surveys at your business, you should first think long and hard about how you’re going to interpret the data. Choosing to be satisfied only with a perfect score is like trying to find the end of the rainbow.

So, how should you examine your survey results?

Keep It In Perspective

First, understand that everybody has a different perspective. One person might never give a “perfect” score, because there is always room for improvement. Another person might choose the most positive answer for things that barely met their expectations. Certain Grumpy Guses will never be happy with anything.

You can combat this “perspective problem” by providing specific answers to choose from (“Will definitely come back” rather than “1-9,” for example), but keep in mind that there will still be some level of disconnect.

Listen Up!

A good way to level the playing field a bit is to provide a comments section for customers to explain the reasoning behind their answers, but it’s important to factor these comments into your survey results. I’ve been told that Walgreens doesn’t do this, and looks only at the number score to determine a store’s level of customer satisfaction. (Which begs the question: why bother letting the customer provide a comment at all?)

Clarifying comments are the next best thing to getting inside the customer’s head and figuring out where they’re coming from. If they rated their experience a “6” but their only complaint was a long wait or the weather, you’ll know to adjust (or disregard) their score.

Fixing the Problem

When it comes to holding your employees accountable for a less-than-positive survey result, consider which of the areas being evaluated is actually the staff’s fault. If a customer rates the cashier’s friendliness a “2,” it’s probably time for a sit-down. If a survey gives your store a “5,” but their only complaint was about the price, you can let your employees off the hook.

Remember that you’re being evaluated by customer surveys as well. As much as you might rely on customer feedback to determine whether your staff is doing a great job or not, look for other ways that your business can improve. Are people complaining about the location? The price? The size of the menu selection? Before you penalize the entire staff for consistently bad survey results, consider whether it’s your policies and procedures that caused the dissatisfaction.

Roll Up Your Sleeves

Remember that customer surveys are like mini focus groups: they require a bit more detail, involvement, and evaluation than a simple “yes or no” answer. In order for customer surveys to be truly useful, they’re going to be work (whether you’re writing them up, reviewing the results, or implementing any changes). If you want to quickly find out which areas to improve without all the hassle, read the reviews customers are already writing on Yelp or Angie’s List.

Say ‘Thank You’

Do you recall what caused me to fill out that customer survey in the first place? Filling out customer surveys are work for the customer as well, so offer a reward to make people more likely to provide feedback. Reviews are great (and you should definitely be reading them), but most people tend to write them for only very bad or very good experiences. You’ll get a broader view on your reputation (a.k.a. your “brand”) by offering a reward for feedback.


If I could leave you with just one take away, it’s that you can’t make a die-hard, rabid fan out of everyone (especially if your industry isn’t an exciting one). You know you do awesome work. You eat, sleep, and breathe your business.

But your customer doesn’t.

Asking them to wax poetic and appreciate every little detail that goes into their experience is like asking you to cheer on the employees at the DMV. It’s okay if they’re not “jump-for-joy” thrilled every time they buy from you. Sometimes, their willingness to return or recommend you is enough.

In some cases, you have to be happy with being thought of as “average.” And yes, there is always room for improvement.


Clarity Creative Group is a web design & internet marketing company located in beautiful Orlando, Florida. I love Target, but have never once bought a shirt with their logo on it or even filled out a customer survey.

13 Apr

Are DIY Website Builders Really Worth It?

Posted On: April 13, 2015 | Category: Our Opinion, Websites

architechture and engineering buliding plans and design toolsWe’ve written before on the dangers of DIY-ing your business and the benefits of hiring a consultant when you’re in over your head. Naturally, this includes websites.

We believe that finding an expert is the best way to get something done. But for those of you who are launching a new business or who have cash flow issues, it can be tempting to look at DIY web builders like Wix and Weebly to get a simple, cheap business website up and running. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

06 Apr

8 Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Web Designer

Posted On: April 06, 2015 | Category: Lists, Small Business Management, Websites

8 Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Web DesignerYou’ve decided your business or personal website needs a redesign (thank you!), but now comes the hard part: deciding on a web designer. Ever since the first website was created back in 1991, hundreds of thousands of web designers have both failed and flourished.

Some are total experts who know exactly what they’re doing. Some are amateurs who have a lot left to learn. Some are dinosaurs who are stuck back in 1998 (a.k.a. “The Internet Dark Ages”). So how do you choose between them?

30 Mar

10 Benefits of a Website Redesign

Posted On: March 30, 2015 | Category: Lists, SEO and Content Optimization, Websites

Benefits of a website redesign

Do me a favor and try to remember the last time you updated your website.

OMG, has it really been that long?! How is it still functioning?

Haha, we jest (kinda). But seriously, though: what’s been stopping you? Maybe you’re concerned about the cost. Maybe you think your website’s doing just fine, thank you very much.

We believe that knowledge is power, so we’re about to drop some learning on you and list the top 10 benefits of a website redesign. What can it do for you? More than you think….

23 Mar

Testimonials and Reviews

Posted On: March 23, 2015 | Category: Marketing, Small Business Management

testimonials and reviewsDo you own an emerging small business and want to know what customers think about you? Have you been in business a while and need to grow your fan base? Are you curious about what you’re doing right (or wrong) for your customers?

Turns out, there’s an easy way to solve all of these problems: testimonials and customer reviews.

16 Mar

Is the Customer Always Right?

Posted On: March 16, 2015 | Category: Our Opinion, Small Business Management

is the customer always rightMy husband and I were watching Shark Tank the other day (one of our favorite shows) and noticed an interesting exchange between the sharks and the business owners asking for an investment for their brand of almond water. Every time one of the business moguls had a criticism about the product or the way the business was run, the owner would quickly respond with “I can change that!”

What was so interesting about this wasn’t the fact that the business owner was so quick to change his business practices (although it was pretty surprising). It was the sharks’ response. Rather than pat the guy on the back and thank him for his willingness to bend over backwards to please them, they got angry.

09 Mar

Shady SEO Practices to Watch Out For

Posted On: March 09, 2015 | Category: Our Opinion, SEO and Content Optimization

shady seo practicesYou may have seen commercials for companies offering to revamp your social media pages, increase likes/visits to your page, and improve your Google ranking. At first (or even second) glance, it sounds great: you don’t have to think about your social media strategy and you don’t have to go through all the hassle of creating a bunch of backlinks (links to your page that show up on a more popular site). You just have to fork over a few bucks and then sit back and watch your site blow up.

Think again.

02 Mar

Understanding the Net Neutrality Debate

Posted On: March 02, 2015 | Category: Our Opinion, Technology

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast week, the FCC came to a decision on the net neutrality issue that’s been debated by Internet Service Providers (ISPs), politicians, and techies since 2002. The weeks leading up to the debate saw heated discussion of the pros and cons of net neutrality, with pundits and talk show hosts and even the White House weighing in.

But in case “The Dress” caused too much rancor in your household for you to pay attention to the F.C.C. ruling, we’ve boiled down the gist of the debate into a simple article. So, what is net neutrality and how does this decision affect you?

27 Feb

What “The Dress” Can Teach You About Your Business

Posted On: February 27, 2015 | Category: Our Opinion, Small Business Management

In late February of 2015, the Internet lost its collective mind over “The Dress.”

No, it wasn’t a skimpy, daring number worn by an A-list celebrity. It wasn’t due to a wardrobe malfunction on the red carpet or even a new fashion trend.

This dress…was magic.

the dress

This is the original photo, courtesy of Swiked.

23 Feb

Establish Clarity With Our Internet Marketing Glossary

Posted On: February 23, 2015 | Category: Establish Clarity

glossaryHere at Clarity, we eat, sleep, and breathe small business. We read articles; listen to podcasts; and attend meetings where we talk marketing trends, keywords, and SEO practices. We know what we’re talking about (whew!), but we realized that you—our readers and clients—might not. So we put together a glossary of buzzwords and concepts for those who want to understand what all those words mean when they show up in a blog post or proposal.