Collecting customer data is an excellent way to help your business adapt, improve, and learn about the customers you’re serving. Finding out what your customers value, who they are, and how they perceive your business can have all sorts of implications for how you direct your efforts in the future.
Surveys are a commonly-used method for collecting information about your customer base. There’s no better way to learn about your audience than to draw the information straight from the source. However, a number of challenges exist. You need to ask the right questions, avoid annoying your customers, and you need the information to provide actionable insights.
So how do you create a winning survey? Here are four steps to creating a survey that can help your business adapt, rather than get left in the dust.
1. Identify Your Goals
You should define a clear, narrow goal to achieve with your customer survey. You may want to measure the quality of your products, the selection of your inventory, or your customer’s wait time.
Whatever it is, identify the area where you need insight, and target your survey towards that. It may be tempting to ask as many questions in as many different areas as you can. However, the more tailored your survey is towards one or two clearly-defined goals, the more likely you are to gain useful answers. If you’re having trouble, just remember that you can always change the focus of your survey in the future once you’re ready to concentrate on another aspect of your business.
2. Ask the Right Questions
Much like Jeopardy, answers come first in the survey game. Now that you’ve identified the answers you need defined, ask the questions that will net you those answers. Your questions may request answers that are quantitative (numeric) or qualitative (descriptive).
Rate our food quality on a scale of 1 – 5 is quantitative.
Describe your experience in three words is qualitative.
You should ask a few types of questions – overall impression of your business, the specific aspects of your business that you want insight into, and demographic info.
3. Keep Your Survey Simple
Ask simple questions, and not too many of them. Your customers should be able to finish your survey in 5 minutes – less, if you’re asking them to take it on-site. Also, ask questions in a direct way, and don’t try to lead the answer.
Do: “How would you rate our customer service?”
Don’t: “We at Business X strive to hire disadvantaged teens and help them apply for college scholarships. How would you rate our customer service?”
See how the second question tries to guilt the survey-taker into responding positively? Don’t do that, or you’ll get a lot of useless data.
4. Give them an Incentive
If you want your customers to do you a favor and complete a survey, do a favor in return. They could be entered into a raffle, get a coupon for their next visit, or the sense that they’re contributing to your ability to serve them better. Whatever it is, make sure you’re communicating why a survey is beneficial to them.
These steps should get your customer survey on the right track. An effective customer survey can be invaluable in providing information that you can use to improve your business. Implementing your survey the right way should net you the right information without annoying your customers. After all, they are the ones you’re doing this for!
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Skip Cass is the chief executive officer at LRS and an expert in operational efficiency and creating a memorable guest experience.