A Guestbook! The Best Small Business Customer Survey Tool Ever

by Joanne Steele on August 13, 2009

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If you don’t have a guestbook in your business, get one… today.

Take a break and trot on down to the local store that sells stationary supplies and get a plain old guestbook. Or create your own pages that you clip together in a nice folder with “Guestbook” written on the front.

Why? Because this is the absolute best way of gathering information about your customers. If you have a walk-in business, keep it near your checkout, or where people wait to be seated for a restaurant. Train your staff to ask your customers to “sign the guestbook” before they leave. If you’re an outfitter, pass it around while everyone is gathering up their supplies to say goodbye.

Here’s the information you want to collect. Modify the fields in a purchased book to include these things.

1. Name – Important! All email newsletter programs now allow you to automatically personalize information from you. Get their name!

2. Email address – To reassure people, put a little note at the top of the page that you don’t share email addresses with anyone. And then stick to that promise. This is ABSOLUTELY GOLD. These are your customers, so now you can communicate with them as often as you have something important to share through an email marketing service like AWeber ( which I use) or MailChimp or dozens of others. Instead of sticking expensive stamps, you write ONE newsy message and email it to everyone on your list! GET THAT EMAIL ADDRESS EVEN IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH IT RIGHT NOW. We’ll talk later about email newsletters.

3. “Your thoughts about us” or some other phrase to ask for their endorsement or a testimonial. You should be using these all over your web site, marketing materials and advertising. Your guestbook will give you a storehouse of good thoughts to share.

4. Their town and country. You don’t need their whole address, but having their town and country gives you great data about where your customers are coming from. It’s an interesting fact that if you have a store and 100 people walk in who live in a neighboring town and three people come in who speak a foreign language, it will be those three foreigners you will remember. You are also more likely to excitedly report to everyone in town that you’ve noticed a huge number of Germans, or French or Norwegians in town, neglecting the fact that most of your customers are coming from 75 miles away. It’s just the reality of how we perceive what we hear and see.

Use your guestbook to collect the vital data about where most of your customers are coming from. This will help you make good future marketing decisions.

Also, you can sign, John from Norway, or Jane from Next Townsburg on the testimonials left in the guestbook when you post them on your web site.

This is the basic useful information you will use over and over again. Don’t ask too much more of your customers or they’ll avoid signing all together.

Let us know some of your best comments. That’s the greatest benefit of installing one of these gems.

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