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Surveys to Improve Your Customer Experience (Part 2 of 2)

October 24, 2016  - Tips for Small Business
use surveys for customer experience

In Surveys to Improve Your Customer Experience (Part 1) we covered the importance of incorporating surveys into your sales and service processes in order to gain valuable feedback and improve customer satisfaction.

Now, let's talk about the mechanics. How do you pull off a killer survey that not only generates response, but the right response? First, you'll want to ensure your survey is easy to understand, quick to take, and makes customers feel their answers will add value to the customer-company interaction. Here are a few best practices to help gain a better response rate:

Survey Set-up

Take a minute to think about how you want to set up your survey before you start building it.

  • Decide on Delivery. The delivery can help shape the type of survey and how long you have to keep their attention. Is it 1-3 questions at the end of a phone call? Pushed out via email or text after a service is provided? A response card to be filled out with 3-5 check boxes? An email with a survey link for a longer survey?
  • Start with basic questions. Hone in on what is the most important information to gather for your business. Rather than trying to be all encompassing, insure your survey has a singular focus and you'll maximize response rate. Survey Monkey offers sample survey templates which show the different types of questions you might ask based on the type of survey you are conducting.
  • How will you scale your responses?There are several methods that can be employed including the NPS measurement, a numeric scale, open comments for feedback, or a Likert scale format which measures response on a Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree scale.
  • Decide on distribution. Determine whether the survey should be coming generically from your company, from a third party resource or from a specific contact at your company. Each may impact the response rates and how candid the responses are – for example if it's coming from a third party, it generally results in very open and honest responses. If it is coming from a relationship manager, that may impact the responses, but alternatively, it may positively improve the business relationship.

Question Development

If you haven't had a lot of experience in crafting survey questions – which can be an art in itself – it's a good idea to understand and avoid the following:

  • Double-Barreled Questions: This is where you're actually asking more than one question. The respondent can be tripped up on answering if their views differ on the questions posed. For example, instead of asking "Did the product you ordered satisfy your needs and do you want to receive updates on future products?," make it two separate questions.
  • Biased or Leading Questions: In order to extract true insights from a survey, you cannot lead the respondent to an answer. Asking leading questions can create a false positive result, making results less valuable to your business. If you ask "Should smart business owners utilize paid search as part of their marketing strategy?" you may automatically elicit a yes response lest your responders feel they are not being a smart business owner. Try asking a more neutral question such as "What tactics should be included in a business marketing strategy?" to find out if respondents feel paid search should be included.
  • Loaded Questions: These types of questions usually are written in a way that suggests a socially acceptable answer or elicit a strong emotional response. As with leading questions, you need to ensure your survey questions remain as neutral as possible. Depending on the question and the way it is posed, you could cause a high desertion rate. If your survey contains hot-button topics, be sure that your respondent can answer truthfully.

Survey Strategy

Now you're ready to start designing your survey. There are a few more things you need to consider:

  • Avoid too many open-ended questions. You'll gain more measureable and comparable results with closed-ended questions. Open-ended questions also require more time and effort from the customer and they'll be more apt to abandon the survey. The majority of questions should have scaled answers, such as satisfied to do dissatisfied on a scale of 1-5 or 1-10, or multiple choice answers. Use open-ended questions when additional clarity is needed for a scaled question, or to give responders an option for final thoughts or comments.
  • Timing is important. You may be tempted to do one big annual survey – and still might – but asking for quick 2-3 question feedback after an event such as a purchase or interaction with your contact center will elicit a higher response rate and more insightful feedback. These types of surveys are great for a 2-3 question NPS survey.
  • Pay attention to question ordering. Locate the important questions at the top of the survey. The purpose of the survey is to have the respondent answer the core questions and address the important issues – especially if the survey is long and there is a chance of abandonment. Demographic and/or background information should be near the end of the survey to ensure that the core questions get answered first.
  • Understand Halo Effect. The halo effect describes the impact that a respondent's feeling – positive or negative about a brand – may have on how they answer the questions. While you cannot fully avoid halo effect, timing of when you ask a question, or asking a question multiple times over the period of a customer's lifecycle, can diminish the impact on your results. For example, if a customer recently had a negative interaction with your contact center, their responses may be markedly lower for things not even pertaining to that experience. If you re-survey the same customer in a few months, you could get much different responses.

Pre-Testing the Survey

Testing is crucial to insure you have a great response rate and that your survey sets the right tone for your customers.

  • Make it easy for responders to complete. Consider under 5 minutes – 1-2 minutes much better – and 30 seconds will get the best response rate. If it will be a few minutes, break questions into categories so it's easy to follow. Include a completion bar so they know they're making progress.
  • Make sure it reads well. You don't want your customer to struggle over long-winded verbiage. There are best practices that you can implement and the language design can be critical in not only getting people to take part in the survey but in soliciting the responses that really tell a story. Avoid heavy technical language, industry jargon, and long run-on sentences to ensure readability. This will help respondents to move through the survey faster and avoid abandoned surveys.
  • Utilize your employees to test. Get feedback from your internal sample audience on how long it took them to complete and if it was easy to understand. Most online surveys will provide you with time data so you know how long the average participants takes to complete it. Enlist this pre-test audience as proof readers – after staring at the survey you may miss errors that new eyes will find before it goes out the door.

If implemented correctly, a survey can be your best vehicle for understanding your customers, their level of satisfaction or loyalty, and the quality of your interactions in store or via agents. The information you gather can even lead to finding advocates of your brand or products who can provide testimonials – include a link to leave a recommendation to make it easy for them. Taking these insights and investing in improvements will have a positive impact and your customers will know you care!


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