Your Customer Satisfaction Survey Stinks: Getting Meaningful Feedback

As your business begins to grow and your customer segments begin to expand, you’ll have to start addressing the idea of customer feedback and all the complexities that accompany it. From my experience, you’ll learn two things immediately:

  1. There are many great tools to use to create customer feedback surveys.
  2. Using these tools to create meaningful surveys can be extremely challenging.

Most entrepreneurs discover this the hard way. Hours of valuable time are wasted creating surveys filled with ineffective and confusing questions. For some reason, customer feedback surveys have become a “trial-by-fire” learning process for most new entrepreneurs. And while “trial-by-fire” may sound note-worthy, it is wholly unnecessary and a waste of valuable time and money.

We’re here to help you skip this arduous process, breeze through the fire, and ensure you are capturing a clearer understanding of your customers' experiences and your company as a whole.

1. Ask for Actionable Outcomes

Let's start with this:“Rate your experience with us” is not a question that will get you results! Broad questions such as these yield ambiguous results that become impossible to track. Blindly asking questions and hoping for the answers you need will get you nowhere. Would you market to customers or demographics you hadn't researched before?

Like every other aspect of our business, these surveys need to be well thought out and strategically calculated. As Gregory Ciotti, a marketing professional for HelpScout, explains,

“Every single question that you include should have a well-defined purpose and a strong reason for being included. Otherwise, it should be put on the chopping block. Adding in that question you thought couldn’t hurt to ask only adds unnecessary bloat that could send survey takers hunting for the 'back' button.”

How can we make this happen? Plan backwards.

Start with what you need from your customers. Ask yourself, “What actionable responses or data do I expect from the person taking this survey?” Then, work back from there to ask the questions that will give you those answers and you will likely be pleased with the results you receive.

2. Keep It Simple

When we send out surveys we want to get back the most information possible. You might think a lengthy survey with 49 questions would give you the greatest amount of information, but you would be wrong. Find the shortest way to ask your question while ensuring it is still purposeful and actionable, and only include the questions that are crucial. 

Have you ever opened a survey and spent 30 minutes completing it? I didn't think so. If your survey isn't easy to use and relatively quick and painless, you won't get the feedback you need.

Remember: the goal is to get information from your customers and that's impossible if they’re abandoning the survey early.

3. Add Open-Ended Options

It's important to to incorporate some type of free form response in your customer surveys. The more information the customer can provide us, the better off our business will be in the long run. Sometimes, customers can be our biggest innovators. Micah Soloman, customers service specialist and consultant, explains in an article for Forbes,

“A survey should include free-form text fields to identify novel responses that you may not have even considered and to offer your customers an opportunity to express themselves.”

However, beware! A barrage of empty text boxes can be intimidating for anyone giving feedback. Keep your simple questions towards the start and allow those that have made it deeper into the survey the chance to more fully express their opinions. Believe me, if they're still answering questions, they have an opinion to share. 

4. Make Sure Each Question Has One Answer

So many times, surveys are ruined by what I call “string questions.” One question followed by another (and sometimes another), usually linked by an AND or an ALSO. Last week, I was taking a survey and was confronted with this question:

How would you rate our page against other companies you have used before? Also, did you find it satisfactory, and why or why not?

By the end of the question, I forgot what I was originally being asked. As you can imagine, my answer was quite reflective of the mumbled jumble that I felt in my brain after I got done reading. Needless to say, I’m sure whomever read that answer got little to nothing out of it. Ciotti argues,

“Bombarding [respondents] with multiple points to consider at once leads to half-hearted answers by respondents just looking to get through to the end (if they even stay with the survey at all!). Make things easy by sticking to one main point at a time.”

Ask the Right Questions!

Surveys can be a double-edged sword of sorts. Done properly, they can be our biggest aid for improving struggling sections of our business. However, done incorrectly, we can be buried in an endless string of un-actionable, run-on answers. Starting with these tips will ensure that your surveys yield actionable results so you can begin making a good business great!

Are you a survey guru? Have you had success or failures when creating customer feedback surveys? We'd love to hear from you @EidsonPartners!

One thought on “Your Customer Satisfaction Survey Stinks: Getting Meaningful Feedback

  1. Pingback: Your Customer Satisfaction Survey Stinks: 4 Ways to Make Feedback Matter | Eidson & Partners

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