Or you could try e-mail. A couple of weeks ago, I came across a company that’s been successfully polling its customers. The company, BuyRugsDirect.com, actually is a Web pure-play, not a cataloger. But considering that this Sudbury, Mass.-based marketer conducts business in many of the same ways that our audience of catalog/multichannel marketers does, I thought its use of customer polling would make a good example, and something you can learn from.
BuyRugsDirect.com started polling customers on Jan. 26, and has since gathered some useful information. “It was something I’d been curious about after seeing it in a newsletter sent to me,” BuyRugsDirect.com’s president/CEO Jamie Carney tells me. She examined the newsletter poll further and sought a vendor to handle her own company’s polls. “I liked this particular poll, because it’s not formal and quite engaging, written just in plain talk. And, of course, respondents have the chance to see how others have responded.”
BuyRugsDirect.com transmits about 30,000 e-mails with poll questions per month to an opt-in-only list. “We’re not mailing customers that many messages,” Carney says. “People don’t want to hear from you that often, so we’re only e-mailing them once or twice a month.”
Part of Broader E-mails
The e-mails also contain articles on such subjects as decorating or changes in the rug industry or some sort of hot new trend, Carney explains. And a poll question is included in each e-mail. A recent e-mail contained a tips article on decorating, then a simple question asking customers if they found the article interesting, somewhat interesting, already knew about it, or boring. “It’s a quick poll,” Carney says. “I’ve found it to be a great way to get feedback from customers and really listen to what they have to say.”
In another poll, BuyRugsDirect.com asked customers to rate the company’s customer service. But instead of just asking customers to indicate whether the marketer’s service is “superior, inferior,” etc., Carney says she strives for lighter, more down-to-earth responses. So in the case of the customer service poll, she offered such responses as “give them all a raise.” “It’s something they can get a laugh out of,” she says. “It gets their attention.” (Other responses included “better than others, “just O.K.,” “needs improvement” and “get a new job!”)