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Xit Poll: so easy a caveman could do it

You know those white security tags stores attached to clothing to prevent theft? I met the guy that invented those in Las Vegas this weekend at the International Council of Shopping Centers’ RECon conference.

Larry K. Canipe, of Boca Raton, Fla.-based Cleva Technologies, said he tried retiring a few years ago after 25 years in the business – but it didn’t stick. Now he’s got a new product that he says is an easy way for retailers and other businesses to poll their customers while getting a much better return than traditional survey methods.

Xit (pronnounced “exit”) Poll was launched in 2009 and is a roughly five-pound stand that costs between $3 and $6 a day to run, depending on the quantity the business leases from Cleva Technologies. It takes about 30 seconds to assemble (I did it myself) and clients can upload via a Web server short surveys for their customers to take. Cleva Technologies charges for rental of the Xit Poll and processing of the data.

About 25 Xit Polls are stationed all over the Las Vegas Convention Center at this year’s RECon to gain feedback on the event’s effectiveness. Canipe said roughly 5 percent of passers by stop to take a survey on Xit Poll, compared with about .001 percent using other survey methods like phone calls or using the bottom of receipts to invite customers to fill out a survey for a chance to win a prize.

For mall owners looking to fill an anchor tenant space (like the Owings Mills Mall in 2008, when Boscov’s department store bowed out), the polling system can be used to ask customers what kind of retailer they’d like to see in the space. Canipe said New England-based Finard Properties recently did just that with one of its retail centers.

“That’s such an important space that it’s so key to find the right tenant for your customers,” Canipe said. “They got an overwhelming response.”

Other uses include getting public feedback after city council meetings or getting customer feedback in the restaurant and hospitality industry, colleges and universities and even financial institutions (Bank of America is a client).

Cleva Technologies also announced at RECon it is launching a new version of Xit Poll that prints out a coupon for survey takers as an added incentive to stop and answer the poll questions.

“So often the only feedback [customers take the time to tell businesses] is negative,” said Canipe. “This sort of levels that playing field.”