Best Practices for Conducting Customer Surveys

Best Practices for Conducting Customer Surveys

Surveying customers can provide valuable data for business, marketing, and sales strategy. Here’s how to do customer surveys right.

One of the key building blocks for any business is market research, which may guide the overall business offering, marketing strategy, and sales processes. Your customers, whether current or target, have the most valuable feedback you can get.

Customer interviews can always provide value. However, to canvass a larger group for insights, surveys are the best way to get customer feedback.

Yet conducting a survey is harder than it sounds, especially if you want to gather valid, valuable information from a representative sample. Employ these best practices for better survey results:

Design Surveys with the End in Mind

Before designing a survey, you should answer the following two questions:

  • Why am I conducting a survey?
  • What will I do with the data gathered?

Your answers to these two questions will guide who you survey, what you ask, and the format of your questions. The questions you would ask to find out why a customer is interested in your type of product or service will be different than the questions you would ask if you want feedback on your online shopping experience.

Consider the Best Way to Get Survey Responses

As customers have already purchased from you, the best way to survey them may be to e-mail a link to the survey questions. If you want to survey current and potential customers, you can have the survey invitation pop up when a new visitor lands on your homepage.

Further, depending on your customer mix, you may need to offer an incentive for completing the survey. The offer needs to be small enough to be financially feasible for your business, while enticing enough to give the customer a carrot for taking the time to respond.

Keep Surveys Short

Try to ask no more than ten questions in your survey. You may lose respondents if the survey takes too long, and chances are, you’re also asking superfluous questions that will not bolster your understanding of the market or your propositions.

If you are asking more than ten questions, chances are that you are not clear about why you’re conducting a survey and what you’re going to do with the data you collect.

To keep surveys short and relevant, you may need to ask branching questions to segment respondents. For example, you may want to have one set of questions for customers who purchase your product or service for themselves and a separate set of questions for customers who purchase your product or service on behalf of someone else.

Surveys Should Use Different Question Formats

In crafting your survey questions, remember that you may want to use the data collected for a variety of reasons and for different purposes. You already have captured someone willing to share feedback, so use different question structures to collect input. This way, you can ensure that you have both quantitative and qualitative information.

You may want to find out what components of an offering are most important to your customer base. While this is valuable information, it may also help you to know why these specific components matter. In this case, you may decide to include a question that lists all possible answers and let the responder check all possible boxes of the important components. You may decide it is most important to know the three most significant components, so you can limit the responder’s answers to three choices. Or you may decide to allow an individual to select only one option.

After any of these structure options, you should include a text box that allows for an open-ended response as to why these components are important. While it may not give you data to analyze in the same way that quantitative data will, it may provide sound clips or snippets you can use in marketing materials.

Test and Edit Every Survey

Always have multiple people within your organization proofread your survey for typos, grammar mistakes, and clarity. Your editors will need to make sure that the questions flow logically and don’t seem irrelevant or random. If you employ branching questions, your editors should test both sets of questions to ensure that questions are worded consistently and that question order makes sense.

Further, multiple people within your organization should test the survey to ensure the technology works and isn't confusing to the user.

Review Survey Results and Adjust

Allow your survey to run long enough to glean valid data from a representative sample. Your sample size should represent your overall customer mix or should mirror the population in your target market.

Once you analyze the survey results from a representative customer sample, respond to the findings and tweak your business, product, or service accordingly. Communicate with customers about how you've used the information they provided, so they feel appreciated and kept in the loop. And if you find that you have collected unactionable information, remove the problem questions from future customer surveys.

Need help gleaning customer insights to adjust your strategy? FrogDog can help!

Posted: Oct 23, 2014
Updated: Oct 09, 2019
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