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One of my favorite newsletters is Monday Morning Memo which is never not waiting faithfully in my inbox on yes, Monday morning.  The latest by Roy Williams is about communicating with customers using the unique ability to see things (your business) from the outside looking in. Some things to think about…

The way you as a business owner see things probably has nothing to do with how others, including your employees, see the strengths and weaknesses of your company’s operations.

Do you view your business from the perspective of what things are costing you, and tally only the costs that you can actually see on invoices? Or do you look hard enough to see how your employees and customers might be thinking about the way things get done around your place of business?

Do you ask your employees and customers what they think, and provide a safe venue for honest feedback? If you don’t ask, you’ll never know the significant ‘soft’ costs of sales lost because you didn’t see things from someone else’s perspective, or decreased production due to your staff not feeling worthy, valued or supported.

That’s how we’ve always done things‘ is a dangerously easy trap for business owners to fall into. It may be working today but savvy competition is watching and waiting for chinks in your armour to start showing. Don’t let that happen.

Employee feedback should be as important to you as your customers’. They’re not on the outside in the same way your customers are, but they’re not inside your head running the business either. How do your employees see you, your business, their place of employment?  Regular employee and customer feedback is vital to your business maintaining its competitive edge.

Your staff are following your lead. And because jobs are hard to get these days, it’s not easy to get honest feedback from employees without fear of reprisal. Therefore a safe, confidential and non-judgemental venue is essential.

These free survey tools are easy to incorporate and provide an autonomous safe place for both customers and employees to offer priceless feedback — information that could make all the difference in next year’s bottom line.

SurveyMonkey (www.surveymonkey.com) A popular online hosted survey tool that works well for basic surveys.  Free version is useful for small and informal surveys

Zoomerang (www.zoomerang.com) Similar to SurveyMonkey, they offer a free package yet the survey building tools are not quite as intuitive as SurveyMonkey’s.

SurveyGizmo (www.surveygizmo.com) The free version supports 250 responses per month offering basic piping, fully customizable survey look and feel, and the ability to embed images and videos hosted on your own website. Surveys can be integrated into websites, blogs and other applications, including integration with Salesforce.com.

PollDaddy (www.polldaddy.com) Surveys and polls that can be embedded into websites and applications.

Visit us at www.ashtonassociates.com

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