The Do’s and Don’ts of Surveying Customers

The Do’s and Don’ts of Surveying CustomersOne of the best ways to learn how your business is doing is to survey your customers. Done correctly, a survey can yield valuable insights that can shape how you approach pricing, marketing and more. Done incorrectly, however, and you risk getting useless feedback that wastes everyone’s time. By following these guidelines your surveys can be effective information gatherers.

What you should strive for:

Simplicity

A good survey should consist of simple questions that a respondent can answer in a few words or less. Anything more complicated might turn him or her off, leaving you with an incomplete answer or survey.

Good question examples:

  • “Did the hostess greet you with a smile?”
  • “Was your table clean?”
  • “How long did you wait before your wait staff took drink orders?”

Notice that the good questions leave little room for interpretation.

Poor question examples:

  • “What do you think of our hostess?”
  • “How was your table?”
  • “Any thoughts on your drink service”

These questions are too open ended to provide consistent or measurable feedback.

Objectivity

Keep an unbiased mind when creating survey questions. While it may be challenging to be objective, maintaining neutrality will yield insights that are genuine.

Instead of this:

“How delicious did you find your entrée?”

which assumes the respondent thought it delicious,

Try this:

“Describe how your entrée tasted.”

which gives the respondent room to give an accurate response.

Timeliness

Knowing when to survey your customers can be a bit tricky. If you’ve ever been in a hurry to check out, the last thing you’re going to want to respond to is a survey solicitation that requires you to go online.

So, consider your customers before you develop your survey. Are they time pressed or laid back? Can you envision them completing a survey on site? In person? Online?

These details will help you craft the right delivery strategy.

  • If your customers are retirees with time on their hands, a paper survey with return envelope might be the way to go.
  • If they’re tech oriented or email customers, an electronic or online survey could be the answer.
  • Perhaps you have the time to talk to customers face-to-face. If so, an in-person survey might suffice.

Resourcefulness

While it might be novel to develop your own survey, not everyone is versed in the art of survey-making. If you count yourself among them, there are a variety of resources that can help, including online survey generators or consultants.

SurveyMonkey is one of the most popular, but there are a variety of others you can test. A web search for surveys reveals several. Farming out your survey to a consultant gives you the advantage of time savings. In addition, many include results compilation and analysis as part of the package. To enlist an outside source, try a web search for survey consultants.

A good customer survey can provide insights you can mine for days, weeks or longer. The key is to ask the right questions the right way at the right time.

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