For high response rates on client surveys — and positive survey comments that can become glowing marketing testimonials — inform clients early on that they will be surveyed and that their response is important to you. Invite them to contact you any time with suggestions for improvement because you want their experience to be good. Remind them of the survey's value when you send it, and make it easy for them to complete and return it.

Regular calls from a familiar voice ensure a 100% survey response rate for Fannin Remodeling, of Maumee, Ohio. Office manager Sharon Young mails clients a welcome letter at the beginning of the project, calls them biweekly to see how the job is going, and, 30 days after completion, mails them a post-project survey with a stamped and addressed envelope.

Young also calls clients at this time. “I tell them that we consider the survey [to be] our company's ‘grade card' and [that we] really want their honest feedback,” she says. “The customers appreciate it.”

The survey has 12 questions. Four invite open-ended responses, and the remainder ask for specific ratings on a scale of 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor).

Owner Chuck Fannin says that only about half of the surveys came back before Young became the consistent point of contact. He suspects that her friendliness and listening skills are behind the turnaround. In those biweekly phone calls, “she can tell from the [client's] voice if there's an issue.” If there is, the company is on it.