Smart Surveys Get Smart Results

Chalkboard - Your Opinion Counts

To keep your customers or win new ones, you need to ask questions and listen. One of the most effective tools for listening is a customer survey.

The problem is, many surveys are too long, cumbersome and designed with the company in mind — rather than the consumer. Here are four smart moves to craft a questionnaire that will get the results you really need:

1. Place the survey strategically — or e-mail it. Questionnaires are more apt to be completed when customers have time, so make them available while people are waiting in line. Provide pencils or pens. Don't put the surveys near your staff members or the door. Some customers feel self-conscious about taking a survey in front of employees. If they pick one up at the door, they're more likely to toss it in the car and forget it.

An alternative is to use software to create an online survey that you can send through e-mail. To increase participation, follow up with an additional e-mail message to those who don't respond.

2. Isolate your survey as much as possible. If you don't have customers coming into your place of business, you can include a survey with packing orders or invoices. But don't attach it to other information about the company. That could influence the responses and skew the results. The questionnaire should be separate so the customer can fill it out and send it back anonymously. Include a postage-paid envelope.

3. Consider an incentive. You will likely get a better response if you create an incentive. For example, everyone who completes the survey by a certain date will be put into a random drawing to receive a tablet computer.

4. Keep it short and smart. Surveys should stick to the point, so you need to zero in on what you want to know. Leave plenty of space at the bottom for comments and suggestions.

A smart survey helps keep customers loyal. By implementing what you learn from the results, your company can unlock hidden profit opportunities and deliver "world class" service. Here's a sample questionnaire:

Feedback from a well-designed survey can help you innovate products, improve services, anticipate trends and discover money-making opportunities. Here are some simple questions. Leave space for comments.

We Would Like to Know...

How satisfied are you with our company?

___ Totally satisfied

___ Partially satisfied

___ Dissatisfied

Are you pleased with the responsiveness of our employees?

Is it easy to do business with our company?

How committed are you to staying with our company?

Are you comfortable referring friends, family members and business associates to our company?

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