Customer SatisfactionI was listening to Ted Talk on NPR the other morning and heard the story by a psychologist who was describing motivation – what employees need from their employer to put forth their best effort. These examples will lead up to a very important revelation on Customer Satisfaction – the Time Invested Principal (TIP).

On the radio show, the psychologist used a couple of examples, one being IKEA, who is in the news here for the much publicized opening in St. Louis. He described how IKEA had done their research and found that if their customers put their products together (assembled them) they rated the quality and also their satisfaction with the products higher – it’s worth more to them because of Time Invested.

Then they did actual studies with Oregami – they gave a group the paper and some simple instructions and had them create it. Then they had them rate the actual dollar worth of the product (what they’d be willing to pay for it) and had another group rate it that did not have their time invested.

Then they gave another group harder instructions and had them do it. Again they asked what it was worth to them and then asked another group, not time invested.

Guess what – again, the more time invested, the more it’s worth (to that person) and of course, the group not invested didn’t value it at all.

So I’m taking this idea a step further, from Employee Satisfaction to what I’ve learned about Customer Satisfaction and long-term retention.

This was something that I had learned while working in Corporate America (before child with autism interruptus) – that if an IT director was behind a project and I got them to work with me on it, invest their time, it always went much better. And if we got input from the future users, the reception and adoption by them was always smoother as well.

So one conclusion is that you can, as a small business, develop products that get the customer/client engaged in the creation of the final product.

This is difficult to do with all products/services and since it sometimes has to be interactive with possibly some back and forth with the client, this means that the cost must be higher to offset the time invested, right?

Not always! There are several things you can do very affordably to engage your customer or even your leads, if you can narrow your target market to only those interested in your product.

Most of these start with ads, and I never thought I’d say this, but Google Adwords is just too expensive and too crowded nowadays (missing Yogi – “No one goes there anymore because it’s just too crowded”), but Facebook ads can help you narrow your target better since they implemented their extended demographics selection. If you’re B2B, LinkedIn ads may fit your target market better.

The reason I use ads is the “push/pull” marketing theory – ads are “pull”. With ads, you only get people who are already interested – it may be more expensive in the short term, but less so in the long run. But the important thing is where you send your leads – what you present for them after clicking on the ad. Here are some case examples of what I’m proposing:

1) Consulting comes to mind with this model. If you send your potential clients to fill out a form with what you need to know (an application), you accomplish two things. One is that they become invested and want your feedback. Two is that you can pick your ideal client, thereby wasting less resources on a less desirable outcome. Priceless.

2) Then there are online Surveys. Get your customers and even your lead prospects to help you decide new product development, changes you think may increase revenue, or whatever you need to know – right from the horse’s mouth. It also increases brand knowledge or name recognition.

3) If you’re a system or online tool developer, like I am, you can design a system that facilitates the adoption and retention of your services. In software, we can make it data driven, or customizable with a toolset that allows them to set up their own system – quickly, easily, and cost effectively. “Data Driven” means that ALL the information comes from the database – including actual field descriptors, not just the stored values. So now it can be a CRM, which is how we sell it, or Job/Order Tracking system, or Serial Number Tracker, or Scheduling System – you get the drift.

Quick story – after working with companies like IBM, Caterpillar, Square D and many more as a contract technical analyst, I found that a lot of my projects were to design and develop tracking systems. I had to do it over and over again – it was absolutely ridiculous that there was no software out there easily modifiable for base tracking requirements. So I developed one (

Sure enough my theory is playing out – businesses that take the 1-Box Toolkit and develop their own systems tend to be much happier than with a “Big Box” solution where they have to spend a lot of money, but not so much time, to get “close” to what they need, and in most cases have to wade through all the options they DON’T want to get to what they DO need.

The Time Invested Principal is also working on our consulting vertical, because, after all most people start a business because they know how to do something but don’t know how to run a business. Most actually know this, so asking them to fill out a Fact Gathering Survey lets them tell you about their situation, it builds trust if you show you know the right questions to ask, and it qualifies them as a potential client.

The secret of business success is it’s all about numbers and the Time Invested Principal is one of those numbers you just can’t ignore!
Dawn Cassara is available to speak to any group that wants to learn how to apply TIP (the Time Investment Principal) to their business as part of their marketing strategy – but you’ll have to fill out a survey first!
Sign up for her latest FREE webinar at You can contact her at

Dawn Cassara
What Dawn is passionate about and speaks on:

– How to Run Your SMB like a Large Corporation
– TIP – the Time Invested Principal
– Why Your Website is Not Working!
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