Monday, March 5, 2012

Six Ways To Get The Most Out Of Client Satisfaction Surveys

Editor's Note:  The following is a guest Marketing Mulligans post written by Caty Germon, managing director of  PUBLICeye, a leading online survey technology company headquartered in the United Kingdom and with offices around the world. This article, which originally appeared on Ragan's PR Daily, discusses how businesses can poll their clients to improve operations, relationships, and most importantly, the bottom line. You can follow PUBLICeye on Twitter at @mypubliceye.

A client satisfaction survey can help you find out, but it’s not something that you can rush. Get the survey right, and you will gain insights to help you expand your business; get it wrong, and you will, at best, be completely ignored or, at worst, annoy your clients and seriously damage the reputation of your brand and business.

The stakes are high, but the rewards can be great. With that mind, here are six simple steps for getting the most out of your client satisfaction survey.

1. Identify Your Objectives
Before you start, it’s important to understand what you want to get out of your survey. In which areas are you specifically looking for feedback? What information is really going to help you compete in your marketplace? How will this help your business?

Having a clear set of objectives enables you to understand the questions you need to ask as opposed to what you’d like to know. It will also help avoid “death by data” when you start poring over the results.

2. Avoid Leading Questions...
This is crucial. Although asking leading questions can be tempting—everyone wants to hear great things about their business—it will waste your time, because you won’t glean any useful insights. Worse, you’ll waste your clients’ time. Your survey needs to come from a neutral space and allow respondents to form their own opinions.

3. ...And Don't Try to Get Away with Leading Answers, Either
Make sure that wherever your answers are on a scale that they’re evenly weighted, rather than presenting more positive options than negative, or vice versa. There should also be a midpoint so users can answer “neither agree nor disagree” or “no opinion either way.”

When you have a list of answers, watch the order in which you give each answer. If the top answers in the list are always the ones how you’d like people to choose, you’ll end up with skewed — and useless — results. Avoid this fate by choosing a survey platform that can make the answers random.

4. Write in the Tone and Language of Your Audience 
We all know what’s like: You start a survey that asks long-winded questions full of business-speak, and your brain feels like it’s wading through mud. Nobody wants that. Make sure you set your tone and language to the audience that will receive the survey. Remember that they’re giving up their time to help you; the survey should be as pleasant an experience as possible.

5. Don’t Forget the Branding
So many companies send surveys without giving even a fleeting thought to how it looks and how it fits with their branding. This is a big mistake. Your surveys should be given the same attention in terms of design and branding as any other element of marketing. If you don’t, it could damage people’s perception of your brand.

6. Before You Go Live, Make Sure You Test, Test, and Test Again
Imagine this scenario: You’ve got your captive audience; they’re halfway through the survey, and then the page jams, or a question has no responses, or the logic doesn’t work, and they can’t proceed. A survey that doesn’t work, for whatever reason, can destroy all the hard work you’ve put into it; that’s why it is crucial to test with a selected group of people.

Also, when you receive your test results, run reports and analyze them as if they were the real thing. This way you can see whether the questions you asked give you exactly the kind of information you need. Plus, you can make any necessary adjustments before going live.

© Copyright 2012 Ragan Communications, Inc.

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