If You Want To Know, Just Ask


If you want to know what your customers think, why not ask them?

Now, market research is a science. If you need statistically robust results within measurable confidence levels, to gain information that is critical to your business, you need to employ a market research expert. But if you are after a snapshot of how your customers are feeling or behaving, run a survey.

Why run a survey?

They offer a whole raft of benefits:-

  • They give you fast feedback on your existing products or services.
  • You can get a feel for additional services or products that you could offer.
  • Gain an insight into which of your processes work and which ones need reviewing.
  • You can use them to benchmark customer feeling and measure progress.
  • Last but not least, it’s another reason to talk to your customers, to make them feel you care.

The golden rules:

There are a few golden rules to maximise your chances of success:-

  • Make it easy to answer – use radio buttons rather than text responses, as these are much harder to analyse
  • Make it short and focus on one area only, for example, customer service
  • Only ask about what you can change – otherwise, there’s no point
  • Feed results back to both respondents and non-respondents – and what action you are taking to address any issues highlighted
  • Don’t ask leading questions, e.g. would you agree that our customer service is better than our competitors?
  • Have an even number of possible responses – otherwise many people will pick the middle one
  • Give the opportunity to respond anonymously
  • Repeat on a regular basis

To incentivise or not?

If you offer an incentive, you will probably get a higher response, but I find that if you are surveying existing customers, they are often very open to giving feedback, so long as you don’t take up too much of their time. A good compromise is to offer a small donation to charity for each completed response. Of course, you can test to see how an incentive increases response and then judge whether you feel it’s worth doing.

Finally, there are many software options for designing and sending your surveys. My favourite is www.aytm.com.

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