I often laugh at myself because whenever I take a customer feedback survey, I’m just as interested and opinionated about the survey itself as I am about the brand-related questions. But I’m a customer insights professional and enthusiast. I can’t help but view the surveys I take through that lens.
With each question, I’m considering how my responses might be used by the brand. On each page, I’m looking at overall layout and design elements. After I’ve submitted the survey, I’m waiting to see what (if any) follow-up communication I receive. While I might be a tad more critical than the average consumer, facts are facts. And the fact is, there are a lot of terrible surveys out there. Since I’ve made it my mission to rid the world of terrible surveys, I’m excited to share some ideas and recommendations for making sure your surveys don’t land in that category.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing five important factors to consider when developing a customer feedback survey. So, let’s jump right in!
The first key to developing effective and engaging surveys may seem obvious, but it’s commonly overlooked: Know your objectives. Before gathering customer feedback, there needs to be a clear and detailed understanding what you’re hoping to accomplish with each individual survey. Be able to concisely explain how gathering specific types of feedback will benefit your brand, and outline what it will take for a project to be considered successful. When we get down to this granular level of knowing and defining survey objectives, it becomes a bit harder and less obvious than originally thought.
I think one of the main challenges of this process is making the distinction between objectives and reasons. Our reasons for gathering customer feedback are more about big-picture goals and they explain at a high-level why we’re conducting a survey. On the other side, our objectives are more focused on the process itself and survey details. Objectives cover the specific topics we want to include and guide which questions we ask.
In other words, our reasons for gathering customer feedback explain why. Our objectives explain what and how. So, knowing your survey objectives upfront is a vital part of any successful feedback project. Otherwise, the survey may be lacking the depth, detail, and direction needed to produce actionable insights.
As an example, I see many brands turn to surveys and customer feedback to help gain a better understanding of their customer journey. This, of course, is a great approach. Nobody knows the customer journey better than the customer, so let their feedback lead the way. With that, the next step is to develop a survey focused on “understanding the customer journey.” It sounds good. It makes sense. So, all is good, right? Not exactly.
From a survey development standpoint, “understanding the customer journey” is the reason. It explains why gathering customer feedback is happening and points to a big-picture goal. But it’s not specific and focused enough to guide survey development.
Instead, we use this reason as a starting point to establish our objectives. If we’re gathering customer feedback to better understand the customer journey, then what types of information and insights will get us there? Asking this question helps us determine and itemize the key topics and insights we need to better understand the customer journey. Then, addressing those topics and gathering those insights become our survey objectives.
This process is vitally important because survey results are only as clear, focus, and detailed as the survey itself. By spending the time upfront to outline the purpose of each survey and clearly define our objectives, we are more likely to produce those actionable insights we’re looking for.
Next week, I’ll be discussing the second key for developing effective and engaging surveys: Have an action plan.
Each of the five keys in the series are based on my years of experience, training, and genuine passion for empowering brands with meaningful customer insights. Time and time again, they’ve proven successful and they’re important parts of the approach we take here at MacKenzie. If you’re planning a feedback project or just want to learn more about survey development, give me a call! I love this stuff and am happy to chat any time.