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Most market research organisations and business owners will agree that getting people to complete questionnaires about anything at all is extremely difficult and indeed almost impossible.

To help overcome the issue, South Shields based Solar Solve Marine, manufacturer of the global marine industry’s leading brands of roller blinds and sunscreens, came up with the idea of offering to make a donation to charity as a reward to those customers who complete and return a Solar Solve Feedback Form to their headquarters.

Company Chairman John Lightfoot explains, “When I first set up over 40 years ago I endeavoured to establish from my customers how I was doing. Occasionally we were contacted if someone had a complaint, though not that often. Even in the early days we got as many compliments as we did complaints and very few of either. That may sound good but you need to know about both, especially your failures to impress.”

“When we started to supply our products to ships all over the world we needed to impress the crews globally and really did need feedback as we rarely spoke to them face-to-face. So I offered free pens and other small items but with limited success. Then I moved on to charity donations to Cancer Research, the Salvation Army, the RNLI and the Missions to Seamen as it was then and the marine charities were most popular. We were finally getting somewhere but numbers were still small and the quarterly donations that we passed on to the charities were not impressive.”

Solar Solve’s Managing Director, Julie Lightfoot, continued the story, “The Mission to Seafarers was the most popular choice and its work is appreciated by everyone in the industry. That’s why we opted to support the South Shields branch, as we really admire the commitment it gets from Dianne Erskine, her staff and the many local volunteers that do an amazing job supporting her.”

“I was delighted to be able to call into the Mission recently to present a cheque for £250 to Dianne. It was money that had accumulated as a result of customers who have completed and returned Customer Feedback Forms or recommended a colleague.”

“As a successful business we are also grateful to the purchasers who supplied us with feedback that helps us to continue supplying the best possible products and service to all of our worldwide customers.

Top Image – Dianne Erskine, Manager of South Shields Mission to Seafarers receives another cheque from Solar Solve Marine’s MD, Julie Lightfoot. This time for £250, it is donated on behalf of customers who have completed and returned Customer Feedback Forms or recommended a colleague.