Surveys. Love them or hate them, they have a place in business, helping organizations and retailers find out what their customers think about their services and products, and helping them identify ways in which they could improve.
We are peppered by surveys seemingly every time we take a receipt from a store or restaurant, buy something online, or – the worst – answer the phone. In fact Survey Monkey, a popular online survey company, estimates they collect 3 million survey results per day!
But people are getting ticked off. In fact, a Forbes article says that response rates are down from 20% to “a paltry 2%.” Add low response rates to poorly constructed and executed surveys, the article goes on to say, and you are just annoying your customers and not getting the information you want anyway.
So you should stop doing surveys then, right?
No. Not right. It’s very very important to get your customers’ viewpoint – just not to the point of annoying the heck out of them.
So as a business owner, how do you go about getting that crucial Voice of the Customer? How do you know when to go to the trouble of asking clients who might not even respond?
Two Simple Questions
There are two things to ask yourself if you are wondering whether to send out a customer survey or not:
- Am I making a branding decision?
- In other words, are you deciding the direction of your organization based on your personal vision or goals? If so, that’s probably something that you don’t need to ask your customers. This is YOUR vision, and hopefully it’s based on the right amount of market research and has a strong business plan behind it.
- Am I making a decision on behalf of a customer?
- If you’re trying to decide on an action that will impact customers, and you could take action A or action B (both of which are in line with your brand), then it’s wise to ask your customers vs. assuming what they would like. For instance, if you want to institute a rewards program and can’t decide whether to offer free product or free product or service dollars, the tendency is to choose what you would prefer. It’s better to ask them.
Don’t Get Carried Away
Once you’ve decided to do a survey, make sure you follow these three simple rules so that you can get the right data AND not risk the loyalty of your customers:
- Don’t offer people free stuff just to do the survey. It will dilute your response and encourage people to click through quickly for the reward at the end.
- Make your survey SHORT. Statements like “this survey should take 5 minutes” are misleading – you don’t know how long it takes people to read! Keep it under 5 questions, and keep each one very short.
- Make the questions relevant! Don’t bother asking stuff you’re just curious about – only the things you really need to know.
It’s always a good idea to ask permission too. In these days of spam and junk mail and survey overkill, it’s wise to allow people to opt in to your survey.
Good questions, well asked, will result in priceless information for your business, and will allow your customers to speak for themselves. That’s ALWAYS better than assuming you already know what they want to say.
Until next time,