Customer Surveys: A Tool For Better Decision Making

customer surveys

Customer feedback is essential for measuring satisfaction—or dissatisfaction—with a company’s products and services. In addition to learning about what customers like and don’t like, customer surveys can uncover critical needs, reveal marketplace opportunities and strengthen relationships and brand value. Before the growth of digital marketing, companies relied on outbound direct mail surveys, in-store questionnaires and telemarketing to collect valuable information about customers, their preferences, shopping habits and other essential feedback. Now, the technology exists to use inbound data to obtain even more critical data. In this environment, buyers and sellers can establish real relationships that lead to greater loyalty and long-term success.

Online survey tools offer a wide range of capabilities for businesses of every size. These economical and easy-to-use services are customizable, objective and provide detailed reporting. Whether you choose platforms like SurveyGizmo, Survey Monkey, Zoho, QuestionPro or others, there are several areas of information you can gather through online customer surveys.

Increase Brand Awareness

In today’s competitive marketplace, marketers spend extensive time and resources on generating and maintaining brand awareness. Customer surveys are an effective means of determining the effectiveness of these initiatives. In a perfect world, they should be conducted at least once a year. Sample brand-awareness survey questions include:

  • When you think of (brand category), what brands come to mind?
  • What do you think of (brand X)?
  • When you think of (brand category), what traits/services/products are essential when choosing a vendor or partner?
  • On a scale of 1-5, how familiar are you with the following products/services?
  • On a scale of 1-5, how closely do you agree with the following statement? (Brand X) always delivers on what they promise.
  • How did you first hear about (brand X)?

Assess Customer Satisfaction

customer surveys

High levels of customer satisfaction are strong predictors of customer loyalty, retention and product/service repurchase. Customer satisfaction surveys provide insights that are the foundation to maximizing the customer experience. This type of survey can be automated so it is delivered immediately after a customer contact, such as a call to a customer-service center, following a sale or at another predetermined increment. Sample questions include:

  • How would you rate your recent experience with our customer service department?
  • Was your question or problem resolved to your satisfaction?
  • How likely are you to recommend (brand X) to a friend, family member or colleague?
  • How would you rate the quality/performance of (product or service)?
  • What would you like to change most about (product or service)?
  • On a scale of 1-5, how would you rank the value of (product or service)?

Customer Profiles and Preferences

The more marketers know about their customers, the better they can tailor their messaging and communications. This type of information will help to build buyer personas, boost the relevancy of your content and personalize communication with your target audiences.

In addition to basic questions about age, gender, education and job title, survey questions may include:

  • What are the top challenges affecting your industry/position?
  • How often would you like to hear from us?
  • What types of communications do you prefer (blog posts, white papers, case studies, industry trends, etc.)?
  • Which social media channels do you use regularly?
  • What do you want more (and less) of?

Customer Surveys: Best Practices

Carefully developed customer surveys generate the best response rates and the most meaningful data. To create an effective survey, consider the following tips for success:

  1. Determine your objective. Surveys should have a razor-sharp focus. Choose the topic that is most relevant to your overall goals and create a survey that addresses that topic. The survey should take between three and five minutes to complete.
  2. Choose who you want to hear from. Based on the subject of the survey, determine the ideal target market for your questionnaire. You may send it out to prospects, current customers, those who haven’t make a purchase in some time or even people who have selected a competitor’s products and services over yours. Research shows that emails that tailored to specific audiences through segmentation get 50% more clicks than their counterparts.
  3. Ask the right questions. Questions should be clear and concise, focusing on obtaining only one piece of information. Mix qualitative and quantitative questions. Qualitative questions focus on perceptions (What do you think about XYZ?) and quantitative questions generative specific data (On a scale of 1-5, how would you rank your experience?). Before you send out the survey, share it with internal stakeholders to make sure that questions are clear, easy to answer and relevant.
  4. Give people the chance to elaborate. Many people welcome the opportunity to offer feedback outside the confines of the survey. This is where you can hit pay dirt in the form of suggestions, marketplace insights or opinions about what is or is not working in your organization.
  5. Analyze and share the results. Third-party survey tools provide comprehensive data about respondents and their answers. But data requires analysis to enable accurate assessments, make predictions and develop insights. Look for inconsistencies, such as incomplete surveys, that may taint data and carefully evaluate answers to any open-ended questions. Once data has been carefully evaluated, share feedback with stakeholders throughout the organization.

Future Strategies

customer surveys

Today’s survey technology provides incredible flexibility and data to help organizations meet their needs and objectives. But data does not equal change. It’s up to organizational leaders to determine what the results mean and integrate the information into future strategy. Perhaps most important, don’t forget to let your respondents know you appreciate their input and heard them loud and clear.


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