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Getting started with surveys

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Author: Sean Burton
Updated: 07 Apr 2015
Getting started with surveys

Surveys are a great way to hear what your customers think about you, but they often get bad press due to poor implementation and design.

However, getting the most out of your survey depends on how you implement it and how you design the questions. There are a variety of different survey types, but in general they boil down to the following:

  • Self selection: a feedback button on all pages which gives any user the ability to provide feedback.
  • Random selection: typically an invite layer is presented over the top of the web page to a random sample of users - usually based on less than 10% of page loads.
  • Targetted / triggered: a more advanced invitation method, whereby a survey layer is presented based on specific behaviour, e.g. viewing a particular page.
  • Invite only: usually sent via email as a means of getting specific feedback about from existing customers.

Ultimately, selecting which method is best depends on the problem you're trying to solve. For example, using an overlay will typically provide a higher response rate, but is more disruptive to the user.

Personally, I'm a fan of keeping things simple and then to find that a simple 5 question survey can provide a lot of insight without requiring too much set-up or analysis:

  1. Visit Intent: Key site functions / customer journeys - drop-down listing containing common site tasks.
  2. Task Achievement: Did they manage to complete the task - drop-down or radio buttons with 'Yes', 'Partially', 'No'.
  3. Ease of use (CES): How easy did they find the task - a slider or drop-down with a 0-7 scale.
  4. Recommendation (NPS): Would they recommend you to their friends/family - a slider or drop-down with a 0-10 scale.
  5. Comments: A free entry text box to allow for clarifying or other comments.

As you'll see on this site, I use a simple 'feedback' buttont to allow people to provide feedback at anytime (self section), but if the need arises, then I also deploy an invite overlay to try and increase the response rate.

Key things to remember

  1. Keep it short: A survey isn't a conversation. Keep it short and give your customer the ability to be as honest as possible.
  2. Keep it open: Be careful to ask leading questions, which may bias the response.
  3. Keep it simple: Capturing feedback is only the first step, remember that you'll need to analyse the responses and then actually do something with the findings. Therefore think carefully about how you ask a question and how you want the customer to respond. For example, should they select from a pre-defined drop-down of options or have the ability to answer freely in a textbox - the latter will be much more time consuming to complete AND to analyse.
  4. Do something with it: your customers are spending their time giving you feedback to help you improve your business. Therefore make sure you do something with it! Ideally, try to provide feedback to your customers so that they feel listened to as this will increase customer loyalty and advocacy.

A simple survey can be quick and easy to implement and doesn't need to be costly - there are free tools out there and so you're simply investing your time - and will likely pay dividens in return by allowing you to better service your customers.

If you want to take it to the next level, then you might want to think about a more strategic deployment by implementing an on-going customer feedback programme.

Any thoughts? What are your experiences of surveys?


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