4 Survey Errors to Avoid

October 21, 2016

Customer survey data can be valuable — or useless — and it all depends on the questions you ask.

When created and executed the right way, customer surveys can provide insight into customer experience along with actionable feedback that can help improve the way your locations operate and deliver service. But bad surveys can leave you with operational blind spots — and that can cost you.

Stand Out or Lose Out

Zendesk estimates 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. While effective surveys can drive completion rates and get the results you need to make improvements, people will ignore or abandon surveys that are too long, complicated or poorly structured.

Here are four things to avoid when creating and delivering your surveys, to help ensure their maximum value.

1) You don’t have a strategy. 

Unfortunately, many surveys are created with little thought about their purpose or structure. They’re just a list of questions covering a wide variety of general topics. If your questions aren’t aligned to business needs, they won’t deliver the insight you need to help improve your business.

To avoid this mistake, determine ahead of time what you’re trying to accomplish by collecting feedback. Narrow the topic to one aspect of your business, such as in-store experience or customer support. This will help you focus your questions and encourage respondents to think about the topic in-depth.

2) You ask too many questions.

Ask people about their biggest complaint regarding surveys and they’ll probably answer, “It was too long.”  A survey with too many questions and topics runs the risk of losing people’s attention, leading to low response rates.

Instead, prioritize your questions and eliminate the ones that don’t really matter, or won’t provide you with the information you need to improve customer experience around the survey’s main topic. Try to avoid leading questions, such as those which begin with “Do you agree…” Open-ended questions always provide the most candid feedback.  

3) You send out too many or too few surveys.

Asking customers’ opinions immediately following an interaction is best-practice. Because the experience is still fresh in the customer’s mind, you’ll have the best chance of getting complete, high-quality responses.

It’s critical to strike the right balance in terms of how often you survey your customers. If you fail to send out surveys on a regular basis, you may be unaware and unable to respond to changing customer needs in a timely matter, and this can cost you customer sentiment and trust.

On the other hand, asking regular customers to fill out a survey after every interaction can lead to irritation and low completion rates.

Find a middle ground for survey frequency, taking into consideration business needs and customer engagement.

4) You send your surveys in the wrong format.

What’s the best way to reach your customers? Depending on your business and your target audience, this can vary widely. Today’s consumers spend 5 hours per day on their mobile devices — so be sure your surveys are mobile-friendly. 

Some customer survey solutions enable you to send surveys via text, immediately following a transaction. And research shows text-based surveys receive 15X higher response rates. So, make sure your survey is mobile-friendly.

Word of Mouth Meets Voice of the Customer

Customer surveys should be part of your overall Online Reputation Management (ORM) strategy, because together, online reviews, social comments and survey data inform your approach to improving the customer experience.

An ORM platform that integrates these key customer touch points can enable actionable insights that directly impact customer sentiment.

Learn more about how to create customer surveys that deliver insight into your customer's experience and the overall reputation of your brand.

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