Writing Effective Customer Surveys

There is usually a time in any business where you think it might be useful to ask your customers what they think and get their opinions.  This is particularly useful if you’re considering launching a new product or service and want to know whether people are likely to buy it. So if you do want to find out what your customers are thinking, what’s the most effective way to do this and what sort of questions should you be asking? 

Before I cover that, let’s start by looking at an ineffective survey. I filled in a survey a couple of days ago and the person was asking about work life balance. The question went something along the lines of “Which work life balance issues are you currently struggling with?” Following the question, there were a number of options none of which applied to me. I wanted to write “I don’t really feel I have any work life balance issues,” but no option was available for me to do this. 

My first tip on writing an effective survey is always to remember that while you want people who are experiencing whatever you’re asking them about to answer your survey, people who don’t fall into that category are likely to answer your survey too so don’t forget about them. 

Whenever you’re putting a survey together, I always take a blank sheet of paper, write my topic in the middle and then have a good think about what it would be useful to know. Write down as many questions as you can think of – you can always get rid of the questions later. Creating your questions in this way will help keep you focused on the main question you’re trying to answer. Keep coming back to this main topic – are the questions you’re going to ask potential customers going to help you answer this main question? If yes, keep going. If no, revise your questions. When you’ve finished this exercise, you’re going to have a basic questionnaire in place. Now you need somewhere to create your survey.

One of the most effective tools out there is surveymonkey.com which allows you to set up 10 questions for free and have 100 responses for free. It will analyse your results too so you can see at a glance what’s happening. You can set up multiple choice questions, questions where people can write a comment and questions that force people to choose an answer. You can also ask your customers directly to fill in your survey. You can either do this on a one to one basis, with a group of people or just send your survey to them by email. You don’t actually need a lot of people answering your survey in order to get an idea of what’s happening. You should start to see some patterns with as little as 15 people answering your survey so don’t worry if you don’t get hundreds of responses. 

Once you’ve got your survey results, you need to ask yourself what the answers are telling you bearing in mind that some people won’t have been truthful – in other words, they’ll say on a survey that they’ll buy from you, but if you then told them you had that product in your car and did they want one now, many people would often change their minds. A survey will however, give you some basic trends and can give you an idea of what people are looking for. So next time you’re thinking about launching something new, why not ask people and see what their thoughts are?

About the author:
Exceptional Thinking provides advice and help to small businesses on their marketing and to people setting up in business.
My website is at: http://www.exceptionalthinking.co.uk


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