Effective surveys are a great way to understand and engage with your audience. According to “Understanding Customers” by Ruby Newell-Legner, a typical business hears from only 4% of it’s dissatisfied customers. This means that 96% of people will never voice their complaints. Surveys and other data-gathering tools can help you understand what your customers like, want and need. Analyzing the data from surveys helps us to make informed decisions about our product and service offerings. Below are six tips to help you create effective surveys.
1) Define Your Goal – What are you trying to learn? What are the dimensions that define that goal? For example, service, atmosphere, product quality and cost would be good categories for a retail store. Understanding your audience grows trust and credibility with your audience. Knowing your customers and the things that interest them, make them happy, disappoint them, allows you to serve their needs and grow your business.
2) Customize Your Audience – Effective surveys should be customized based on your audience. For example, you would not want to send the same survey to prospects and current customers. When creating effective surveys, make sure to keep you intended audience’s needs in mind.
3) Create Clear Questions – When creating a question make it as clear and concise. Remember not to lead your audience to a specific response. Look at the following example.
Question: In which stores do you shop for dehydrated dog food (e.g. PetSmart)?
The respondent would most likely pick PetSmart as you just reminded them.
The following is a better way to state the question.
Question: Where do you shop for dehydrated dog food?
When creating questions, remember to include “N/A” as you don’t want to force people into answering questions that don’t apply to them.
4) Explain why – Tell your audience why you are surveying them. Let them know you will share your action plan with them. This means you will be sharing the high level results from the survey and what you plan to do as a result of the feedback. People love to give feedback as long as they know it will be acted upon.
5) Keep Surveys Short – Keep in mind that the more questions you ask, the response rate generally decreases. People are busy and may abandon the survey if they feel it is too long. SurveyMonkey research (along with Gallup and others) found that surveys that are 5 minutes or less have the highest completion rate. This research also found that significant abandonment rates occur after eleven minutes. The best thing to do is take the survey yourself. If you think the survey is too long or irrelevant, chances are your audience will think so as well.
6) Create an action plan – It is important that your action plan helps move your business forward. For example, improving your customer service, creating a new product, updating your website or attracting new donors are all examples of actions that can be a result of your plan. When writing each question make sure each answer can be used to take an action or do something for your organization.
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