Surveys provide feedback, opinions, and information, and are valuable to a company’s marketing strategy.

Customers take expected steps when purchasing your services or researching your products (those are their behaviors). Systems can track if they used a tablet or computer to make a purchase, if they clicked a link, or how long they watched a video. What this level of detail is lacking is the explanation as to why they did what they did! Ask yourself, do you want to know why, and what could you do with that information?

If you answered ‘yes’, and ‘come up with some awesome plan for my company’, then read on to learn more about using surveys.

Plan of Action

It is important to note that surveys generate historic or current information that can help a company formulate a plan for the future. Survey questions do not ask about what a customer would do in the future.

Your first step should be identifying the goal of the survey. In my experience, you should have only one goal. When there is more than one goal, the survey can become too long or the answers received aren’t in-depth enough for meaningful analysis.

Example goals to consider are:

  • Learning why the demographics of your customers are skewed,
  • Planning for feature enhancements of your product,
  • Improving response times for customer service,
  • Enhancing your online customer quotes and testimonials,
  • Gathering blog post topics,
  • Promoting a particular service in your suite.

How you want to review and present the results of the survey will dictate the types of question formats you use. Let’s take a moment to review suggested question structure. If a part of your goal of the survey is to provide charts and graphs with measurable data points then your questions will need to have precise answers. For example if you want to capture “How many times have you refreshed your browser?”, the answer will need to be a whole number, and not a range, decimal or a percent. If you want to capture “How do you feel when you refresh your browser?”, you can offer up a list to select from or a free form field.

Open ended questions (ones where you leave the customer to respond in a free form field) don’t leave much time for quantitative analysis, but can lead to fascinating insight into the thought process of your customer. Plan accordingly for the amount of time it may take to analyze that feedback.

Another great piece of advice is to have someone outside your office read through your questions and confirm they are easily understood. It is easy to forget that industry jargon or acronyms are not understood by everyone.

Lastly, ask a couple of people to take your survey and time how long it takes to complete it. Keeping the survey under 5-10 minutes is a good goal but if the expectation is higher, make sure your survey taker knows this before starting. Offering up this information will help to keep your abandonment rate to a minimum.

When to ask your Customer to take the Survey

Asking a customer to complete a survey at the wrong time can result in low response rates and even poorly skewed data. For example, if you are looking for feedback from a customer after you complete a project for them, you are more likely to receive a response if you ask within a few days to weeks (depending on your internal factors like scope, length or difficulty). If you wait for half a year or more to slip by, the customer may not remember details or may even be put-off by your slow actions. By asking at the right moment you can reinforce your commitment to the customer relationship.

On the other hand, if you ask too soon in the chain of events your customer may not have formulated their own opinions yet or have any feedback. For example if you send a survey looking for feedback on a product that you shipped yesterday,  it is likely that your customer has not had any time to interact with it yet.

What to do with the Results?

Now that you have collected a meaningful number of responses you get to analyze it and make decisions! Put that way, it sounds a little intimidating.

I like to take the approach of analyzing the quantifiable questions first; putting them into easy to read graphs and charts. You may need to make some calculations to convert numbers into percent of total or average but I find using a program such as Excel or Google Sheets makes quick work of this.

I then tackle the open ended questions. Again, you’ll need to budget the right amount of time to read through them and pull out helpful tidbits. I like to categorize these types of responses. For example:

  • low, medium, high
  • positive, neutral, negative
  • for, against.

If you need to present the data you can try using an infographic solution to enhance the results.

In a nutshell, you are looking for patterns, extremes, and unique responses. Now take your tabulated results and set a strategy for the future! Remember your goal and don’t get sidetracked. If your results happen to reveal information useful to other departments in your company remember to share it with them.

Have a survey idea that you’d like to discuss? Contact us for a free 30 minute consultation.

Danielle Rydberg

Danielle Rydberg

Danielle, a scientific thinker, received her MBA from UMass and has focused on Marketing since then. She started off with basic market research and competitive analysis and has expanded her skill set to include customer success, campaign management, CRM administration, lead generation, sales support, and customer training. Danielle, a native New Yorker, now lives outside of Boston, MA. She is married and has twin daughters and a son. She enjoys sports, the beach, warmer weather, reading fiction, scrapbooking, sunny vacations, volunteering, cooking and baking.