Surveys are important. So important that I get asked at least once every week to participate in one. On-line, in the grocery store, over the phone. While I understand that the feedback is valuable for the business owner, sometimes I am in too much of a hurry trying to keep my own business running, that I don't have time to answer the surveys. While important, you have to make sure you are doing the surveys the right way. Here are some tips to creating effective surveys:
1. Clarify your survey's objectives.The first key to a successful survey is to define objectives. Exactly what is it you want to know? Is there a problem (or problems) that needs solving? What actions are you prepared to implement depending on the results of the survey? Put a survey together with less-than-focused objectives, and you almost guarantee a survey with unclear results. List the questions your survey should answer. Do you want to know what your customers' satisfaction levels are by segment? Do you want to ask if they'd recommend your company to others? Do you want to measure in what format and how often your customers prefer to receive communications from your marketing department? Focus on the big picture, and keep your objectives narrowly scoped; more complex surveys tend to less meaningful results.
2. Select your survey's target. Who should you survey? You may want to start with your existing customer base, but consider surveying prospects in other markets, as well. The proper sizes of survey samples depend on budget and the time available to analyze the results and act on them. Statistically, larger sample sizes deliver more accurate results. The good news: today, the web makes it easier than ever to sample larger groups quickly and cost-efficiently.
3. Prioritize your questions. Obviously, every survey revolves around a specific set of questions, but with so many options, where do you start? Create questions related to your goals and objectives from the first step. What customer attitudes or perceptions do you want to measure? What answers might ultimately help you to make more informed decisions? Remember; always provide an option that allows a recipient to say, "I don't know" or skip a question entirely, especially when you're asking for subjective opinions vs. quantitative facts. Also, don't ask more questions than necessary; the shorter the survey, the better your chances of success.
4. Test the survey. It may sound obvious, but before you broadcast the survey to your selected sample world, test it thoroughly on as many different PC platforms, operating systems, various Web browsers, etc. Try to "break" it in any way you can, because it's an unpredictable technology world out there.
5. Communicate your purpose. It's important to communicate to customers why they're being surveyed, how you'd appreciate their support and what you intend to do with the information you gather. In other words, what's in it for THEM? Explain why the survey is relevant to the recipient. Will it help the company create better products and services, improve customer service, seek more competitive pricing, etc.? One proven technique is to send an email announcing the survey to your existing customer base, asking for assistance and highlighting a direct link to the survey within the message.
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