Writing Awesome Surveys

Feedback surveys really are an essential part of running a successful customer focused business. If you haven’t done one before then it’s definitely worth considering as the benefits can be huge, and they cost hardly anything to run.

If you’ve impressed or offended a customer at any point, then you’ll probably already know about it. Those types of reactions will typically provoke spontaneous feedback in the way of a 1 or 5 star review, or a direct comment to you. This can be very useful, but there is a group of customers that don’t tell you about their experience. Those customers are your 2, 3 or 4 star reviewers that have not been moved to report back to you on their experiences.

The average person will tell 16 other people about the service they receive from a business, and you aren’t likely to be one of them. These are the customers that may or may not return to your business, they also may or may not recommend you, but only they know why – unless you ask! Unlocking their experiences is possibly the most important thing you can do as you work to improve your service.

I say possibly, as it might be even more useful to speak to people that have never brought from you. Finding out what has put them off of doing business with you could also be incredibly valuable.

Did you know? Just asking your customers for their feedback shows how much your business cares. This alone can increase your profile, and make your customers more likely to buy from you in the future!

Top tips

There’s a big difference between a good survey and a bad one. A good survey will provide you with valuable information that you can use to improve and grow your business. A bad one could end up with no responses and even damage your reputation further. Having done a few of these in out time, here are our top tips for a great survey.

Have a clear goal

Before you even start, you must first decide what you want to learn from your customers. Are you focusing on product range, the delivery service, a specific product, customer experience, your competition, web design, overall branding, pricing, or something else? Are you concerned about a specific area of your business, or does one appear to be under or over performing compared to the rest?

Once you know what your goal is, you can start thinking about the questions that will help you figure the problem out best. Writing good, relevant questions is the key to getting the right answers back.

But, don’t go mad, if you try to cram too much into one survey it runs the risk of getting too long…

Keep it brief

The longer your survey goes on for, the greater the chance your customer will lose interest and just close it down. That would be a terrible shame because anyone that has taken the time to volunteer their opinions can probably offer some really valuable insight. Ideally, keep it under the 15 question mark. That’s not many, so don’t waste any spaces on questions that aren’t necessary to your goals. And that includes questions about the,selves and their demographics. Unless you really need to know where people are located, their name, or their email address, leave them out!

Keep it simple

People don’t want to have to spend valuable time thinking about how to respond to your survey questions. The more effort your respondents have to go to to answer your questions, the more likely they’ll bow out. So, ask direct questions and include plenty of tick boxes and scales for them to select their answers from.

If you want free flowing feedback, then you can include an “any other comments” section at the end. But don’t make it a required field, give them the option to skip it if they want. Also, make sure your questions are clear and easily understood. Avoid using negatives, or anything that could make your questions ambiguous, and always add an “Other, please state” option when you do tick boxes. These can be very revealing. In a survey I ran a few years back, I got a bunch of unconsidered options that I had never considered before, it totally changed my marketing and doubled my turnover!

Google Forms

Make it anonymous

People are more likely to be honest in their feedback if they can do it anonymously. They are also more likely to participate, so don’t forget to tell them it’s anonymous when you send out your invite. If you want to, you can give people the option to provide their details at the end. You might do this is if they want to be entered into a draw or if they would like you to contact them. But, again, make it optional. People don’t like to hand over their details if they don’t need to, and this can be a deal breaker.

Keep in professional

There are lots of free apps that you can use to create your survey so use them. I use Google forms for mine, you can easily create free, great looking, surveys for most kinds of purposes. Google do offer a paid version, but I’ve never needed it. And, as a bonus, it will even present the data in a really simple way to you when your responses start coming in.

Be open minded

There’s a very good chance that some of the feedback may not be as complimentary as you would like, so prepare yourself. But, embrace the negatives as they are offer your best opportunities for improvement. If all your respondents come back to you and tell you your service was fine then you’ve learned nothing, and cannot improve it. If they all point out failings in the service you have an action plan, which is a very positive thing.

Invite people to your survey

You’ve finally created your survey, not it’s time to get it out there!

When you send out your invites it’s important to include a few details about the survey so they feel compelled to open it up! Start by telling them why you are running the survey, why you would like their feedback specifically, and what you are hoping to learn from it. They will be much more likely to help you if they know it’s relevant and what you plan to do with their feedback.

They’ll also want to know how long it will take. So, once you have finished writing your survey, test it to see how long it takes to complete. Peoples time is short, so keep it under 5 minutes, or even better, under 3 minutes if you can. But how ever long it needs to be, tell them so they can make an informed decision.

You should also include details regarding anonymity, data collection, and any potential use of sensitive data.

And finally, if there are any offers or competitions they can take advantage of as a result of taking your survey, let them know from the get go. I’ve never offered an incentive, but many do and they get great responses.

Sit back and wait!

Once your survey invites are out there, your only job is to sit back and wait for the responses to roll in. I say, you only job, but actually, your responses are just the beginning. Now you’ve got data to analyse and act on!

Good luck!


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