Savvy Speaks: Surveys Says...?!?

Savvy Speaks: Surveys Says...?!?
Savvy Sisters - Wed Dec 07, 2011 @ 10:30AM
Comments: 10

Ever wonder what your customers and prospects are thinking? Try asking them! With today's plethora of web-based survey services, it's a snap to put together a survey, analyze the results and even create beautiful graphics for your final report. Read on for some examples of how the Savvy Sisters use surveys in their work.



I've created many surveys for use in the classroom and although not exactly the same as those for learning about customers, training surveys still followed some basic rules to help me learn about my students:


  • A survey can't come out of nowhere, there has to be a lead-up to it. You can't just stop a conversation and throw in a survey. Put the survey in context.


  • For most people, there has to be a clear reason for them to act. If they think their actions will especially help themselves, they tend to be more involved. Phrase the survey so that the intended audience sees the applicability to their lives. Something like, “Your input will help us to better serve you” is far more effective than “Our goal is to have better customer service.”


  • I've said it before, and it bears repeating. Watch the humor in any survey. Quite frankly, in the case of surveys, I'd say leave it out completely, however, I have taken some surveys where a humorous choice can lighten some tension. If you are going to use humor, get several people's opinions on it before release.


  • Keep it simple, stupid. It applies to all things as well as surveys. Keep it short, time-wise and question- wise. People are busy, the quicker they are going to get through the survey, the more likely they are willing to participate. Also, if the survey goes on for a few pages, let your audience know where they are and how much longer it will take to finish.


  • Lastly, thank your audience at the end of the survey and repeat how the results of this survey will ultimately help their experience with your business.



Getting the Inside Scoop

My most frequent use of surveys is actually internal. Sometimes when engaging a larger client on a branding exercise, a survey can be an easy and anonymous way to get input from a large group of people who might otherwise hold back on saying what they really think for fear of professional retribution. Getting straight answers to questions like "what are your company's weaknesses" is much more helpful than getting the brown noser version. 

Surveying customers and prospects is - of course - very helpful, but asking the company employees the same set of questions can provide some important insights into how the company perceives iteslf (and how that maps to customer realities). 

In either case, I like to use tools like Survey Monkey because they are easy to set up, globally accessible, and have (at a small price) all kinds of fun graphing capabilties. After looking at all that, I also like to take the various responses and put them into a mind map that helps me get a visual overview of how the questions and answers map to key creative brief questions. 


Work Hard to Ensure Your Questions Will Get Unbiased Answers

Survey results are only as good as the survey questions. As humans we can't help but be biased toward our own opinions. But when folks read your survey results, they will immediately start looking for proof that you biased the results in your favor. Even if the survey will only be used internally, biased results won't do you any favors. And it's pretty easy to bias answers without even realizing you're doing it - just by the way you word the question.

As an extreme example; have you ever gotten a phone survey from a political campaign worded like "On a scale of one to ten, how badly do you think the other party has totally ruined the country?" That organization is obviously looking for answers to support a presupposition.

Go through your questions with a very critcal eye, well-written questions are the only way you can be sure the results are accurate. If you're unsure of your abilites to write a good survey, don't hesitate to hire an outside contractor who specializes in writing surveys - it's the best way to get accurate results.


Get help from the beginning

If you are looking to do a survey that will be provided to potential customers, my advice is to get help from the beginning.  Although there are a lot of tools out there that make creating surveys easy, they don’t help with survey design and analysis. For instance, here are a few things to consider:

  • Are you are wording your questions in a way that won’t be misinterpreted?
  • Are you asking for data in a way that can be easily analyzed?
  • Are there any questions that can be eliminated to make the survey shorter?
  • Do you know how to analyze all of the data you will get back?  

By having an outside perspective, you’ll not only deliver a better survey (which will result in a lower frustration / higher participation), but you’ll also ward off any issues you may discover during the analysis phase.


Do you use surveys in your work?

Have you ever come up with results you weren't expecting - and if so, what did you do about it?

Comments: 10


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Great points; I think to effectively gauge a response; there needs to be a relationship built between the active parties.

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