4 Survey Errors to Avoid

October 21, 2016

Many large, multi-location businesses have a valuable tool at their disposal that allows them to get into the mind of their customers, but many of these firms aren't using it correctly.

That tool is a customer survey, and when executed properly it yields actionable feedback that drives operational improvements. But if done poorly, it leaves many businesses with operational blind spots.

According to customer service software maker Zendesk, an estimated 7 billion surveys are presented to American adults each year. While people are willing to take surveys, the flood of requests has made them more particular about which ones they complete.

The online newsletter Customer Experience Insights reports that only 5-10 percent of customer surveys are completed. The surveys that are ignored or half-completed are usually too long and too complicated.

Effective surveys can drive completion rates and get the results you need to make improvements. So here are four things to avoid when creating and delivering your surveys, to help ensure their maximum value.

Creating a Survey Without a Strategy

Unfortunately, many surveys are created with little thought about their purpose or structure. They’re merely a list of questions covering a wide variety of general topics.

If the questions aren’t aligned to business needs, they’re useless, providing no value to help improve a business. What’s more, a survey with too many questions and topics runs the risk of losing the attention of participants, causing them to abandon the survey.

Creating a Long Survey with Leading Questions

Ask people about their biggest complaint regarding surveys and they’ll probably answer, “Too long.” Often, survey creators attempt to cover every aspect of the customer journey in a single survey.

Ask too many questions and a participant may turn away. Also, too many questions can affect the clarity of the responses. So it’s important to prioritize, limiting the survey to only the most relevant questions that address top business issues.

The type of question can also affect the response. If you want an objective answer, don’t assume you already know how customers will respond and provide a leading question such as, “Do you agree with experts who say we have the best prices in town?”

Sending Out Too Few or Too Many Surveys

Asking customers’ opinions after they’ve made a purchase or have concluded an appointment is a good practice. With the experience still fresh in the customer’s mind, you’ll have the best chance of getting the highest completion rate and quality responses.

On the other hand, asking regular customers to fill out a survey every time they visit your store or site can lead to irritation and a low completion rate.

Some businesses go the opposite direction and rarely send out surveys. They run the risk of being blindsided by changes in the market and customer tastes, as well as changes in their organization that affects the customer. So it's best to find a middle ground for the frequency of requests that takes into consideration business needs and customer engagement.

Sending Surveys in the Wrong Format

Do you know how to reach your customers? Many businesses have not done the research, so when they send out information, including surveys, there’s no response. People spend more than three hours a day on their mobile devices.  According to a report from GreenBook, a market research firm, nearly 75 percent of survey respondents are more likely to complete a survey on a mobile device than on a desktop computer. So make sure your survey is mobile-friendly.

Learn more about creating effective surveys.


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