Customer surveys are the most direct way of understanding your clients’ needs and preferences. The success of your business rests in their hands. If they are not satisfied, there’s very little you can do to make your business grow. A well-designed customer survey system can provide you with the tools necessary to predict future trends, and stay ahead of the curve.
How to Encourage Feedback
The basic building block of any customer survey system is the survey itself. Often, the biggest obstacles companies face when it comes to getting direct feedback from their clients is the lack of enthusiasm when it comes to filling in questionnaires. So, when deciding to survey your customers, you need to factor this in, when you think about the number of people you have to send it to. However, there are ways you can encourage your clients to respond to your questions.
- State the purpose of your survey. If the participants know what the ultimate goal of a survey is, they’re more likely to take the time to fill in the answers. Many customers are reluctant to participate in surveys because they don’t know exactly what to expect. Of course, you can keep the subject of your questionnaire somewhat vague, so you don’t influence your participants.
- Describe the survey before your customers decide to take it. Without being too specific, you should give your customers an idea of what to expect from the survey. Give them a broad description of the types of questions you’re going to ask them, what they need in order to participate, and a rough estimate of how much time it’s going to take. If your customers know these things beforehand, they’re going to be much more willing to start the process.
- Questions should be concise. Long, sprawling sentences might make them difficult to understand, and the answers will inevitably be less accurate. Short questions, that are to the point are much more likely to yield useful data.
- Avoid unclear phrasing. If the questions are too vague, or your customer is unsure about what you’re asking them, this might make them feel frustrated, and just give up. You may end up with a lot of information that is practically useless, or you might stop getting feedback altogether.
- Keep It Short. Even if you do have a lot of questions to ask, try to keep your questionnaire short, with no more than 30 questions. It’s better to split up a long list of questions into several surveys, then to try to fit them all on into single, long one. When it comes to likely participants are likely to give feedback versus how much time it takes to complete the survey per se, studies seem to indicate that the shorter a questionnaire is, the more probable it is the participants are going to respond to it.
Avoiding Biased Answers
The information you gather through these surveys is useful only if it paints an accurate picture of your customers’ preferences. There are many factors which can affect the way in which your clients answer a questionnaire. There are a few things you can do ensure that the data you receive truly reflects your customers’ needs.
- Move the questions around. if the participants start noticing a pattern in your questions, they might end up answering based on that pattern, rather than really thinking about the questions. You should try to keep your questions as varied as possible, and maybe even add some that are not directly related to the ultimate goal of your survey.
- Change phrasing. Words and phrasing can affect the way in which a person answers a question. Certain terms may have a negative, or positive connotation that isn’t strictly related to what you’re interested in, but can change the way your participant understands the question. To make sure you get a relatively objective answer, ask the same question in more than one way. Use different terms, or change the focus of the sentence.
Planning Out Your Surveys
To keep the information you gather from your clients relevant, it’s best if you conduct surveys at regular intervals. How often you question your customers regarding your business depends on a lot on the method you are going to employ.
Telephone calls are a good way to ensure you get feedback, however, they tend to feel very invasive, so you should only do phone surveys once a year.
Online surveys are more flexible. Ideally, you’ll want to send your customers a questionnaire once every 3 to 6 months for more in-depth surveys. You can always keep a customer satisfaction questionnaire on your company’s web page at all times, so your customers are always able to give feedback when they want to.
If you are interested to know how a specific product or service is doing, you can offer your clients a chance to state their opinion immediately after purchasing the product or service. These surveys should be very short, no more than a few, straightforward questions. If you get too aggressive with your surveying, your clients might be put off.
When planning out your surveys, you should be prepared for negative feedback. While it may be difficult to confront criticism, there’s a lot you can learn from it. Negative feedback can be much more valuable when it comes to satisfying your customers, and improving your business.
Maintain a Dialogue
Customer surveys are not just means of gathering information from your clients once in a while. They are a tool that can be used to generate, and maintain customer loyalty. Make sure you take the time to show your appreciation for the fact that they took the time to answer your questions.
If you do implement changes based on your customers’ feedback, inform them about it. Explain what measures you took to address their complaints, or how you developed an idea based on the things they appreciated. This will let them know that you are truly committed to their satisfaction and that their opinions are genuinely taken into consideration. It might even encourage others to take your surveys in the future as well. You and your clients need to be in a constant dialogue for your business to succeed.
Amanda Wilks is a Boston University graduate and a Digital Marketing Strategist. She has a great interest in everything related to content marketing, online marketing and corporate and personal branding.