How to Conduct Strong, Customer-Focused Surveys

Annabel Maw EO Blog

Annabel Maw EO BlogContributed by Annabel Maw, the director of communications at JotForm, a full-featured online forms platform for easy data collection and management.

Why would a small business want to survey its customers? Because surveys reveal what customers are really thinking and what they really want. The simplest way to learn about someone’s shopping preferences―along with their values, priorities, opinions, and beliefs―is to simply ask them. Companies go to great lengths to guess what customers desire, but they could use surveys to gather far better data with a fraction of the effort.

With surveys, you get statistically significant and reliable insights. Respondents answer anonymously, which means they’re more likely to offer honest, unguarded opinions. Surveys can help businesses learn more about customer feelings regarding specific products or services―or to help them gauge customer satisfaction. They could also survey employees to study engagement, potentially using a survey to ask about target demographics. The importance of data in business is clear, and that makes it worthwhile to survey anyone and everyone as often as possible.

Ways to Conduct Surveys (and Common Survey Mistakes to Avoid)

Countless survey tools make it easy to build and administer a survey. Look for tools that allow you to customize the look of the survey with your brand’s colors and logos. You should also be able to customize the different fields within the survey: multiple-choice, drop-down, short answer, star-rating, etc. Back-end features that help you analyze and report on survey data are helpful, too.

Choosing the right survey tool is important, but it’s just as crucial to avoid two common survey mistakes:

  1. Asking the wrong questions of the wrong people can prevent you from getting many good insights.
  2. Most people won’t complete your survey unless you properly incentivize them.

Small businesses new to soliciting information have to ensure they’re pairing the right survey tool with the right survey methodology. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Target your audience. Target who gets which survey, just like you would an email marketing campaign. When there’s good alignment between a survey and the people taking that survey, response rates improve significantly―and you get the best data. People are eager to open up.
  • Fine-tune your questions. Figure out what you want to learn from survey-takers, and then explore how to ask for that information as clearly and conveniently as possible. Make it easy for people to respond by experimenting with different form types, and do what you can to eliminate confusing wording from the questions.
  • Prepare to follow up. Surveying isn’t a one-and-done tactic. Persistence leads to more responses, so ensure you’re sending out surveys on a regular basis. You can also track responses over time to explore, for example, customer satisfaction with the online shopping experience and whether it’s trending up or down.
  • Analyze and optimize. Use survey results to make changes to the business, and then use additional surveys to evaluate whether those changes are working. Surveys are a great tool to track data over time because they are relatively inexpensive yet large in scale. Data-based decision-making in business requires consistent information updates, which surveys are uniquely qualified to provide.

Put the right surveys in front of the right people, and they will give you invaluable insights about your business. It’s amazing what you can learn, but you’ll need to carefully craft that experience. Use the right survey tools to ensure that each survey you send yields helpful insights that can further strengthen your business operations.

For more insights and inspiration from today’s leading entrepreneurs, check out EO on Inc. and more articles from the EO blog

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