In last week’s article, I shifted focus from the effective side of survey development and started focusing on making them engaging. I’m excited to continue that theme because the respondents are just as much a part of the process as we are. They’re the ones putting in the time and effort to share their feedback, so it’s important we keep them front-of-mind as we’re developing our surveys.
But first, if you’re new to this article series, welcome! Before reading further, I recommend checking out the previous articles where I discuss defining the survey objectives, having an action plan for after results are gathered, and keeping topics and questions relevant to the customer. Each piece builds on the one that came before, so it’s helpful to get a full understanding of how we got to this point.
As we move further into the idea of making our surveys engaging, we get to have some fun with it. We’ve done the heavy lifting in terms of strategy and tactics, so it’s time to approach things from a different angle. I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating – our interactions with customers don’t happen in a vacuum. There’s a lot happening in and around their lives. Our brands are just one piece of that, so we need to consider the context in which these interactions occur.
Furthermore, these feedback surveys aren’t stand-alone pieces that are compartmentalized and kept separate from everything else we do. This is a branded touchpoint like any other, and if it’s not included as part of your customer journey map, it definitely should. We’re reaching out to our audience, interacting with them, and delivering content that just so happens to be serving a purpose other than sales or marketing. So, doesn’t I make sense for us to treat these surveys like the other branded content we present to our audience?
Here we land on the fourth key to developing effective and engaging surveys: Make it an experience.
For whatever reason, this idea of treating surveys like any other piece of brand content is commonly overlooked. It’s a missed opportunity to reinforce brand identity, strengthen relationships, and differentiate our survey from the thousands of others that are sent out every day. But perhaps more importantly, by putting in effort to make our surveys an experience, we’re conveying a higher level of care and commitment to entire feedback process. People know how much customer acquisition matters to a business, and they see how much time and energy is put into that process. In the same way, putting time and energy into developing engaging surveys will show how much their voices matter.
Having covered why engaging surveys matter, let’s get into how we make it happen. An easy first step is adding visual design elements such as brand-consistent imagery, colors, and your logo. This applies to both the survey itself and the invitation email. It’s shocking how many surveys I get that don’t even have these basic features. I open a plain text email and click over to a plain text survey. Not exactly inspiring much confidence in how much the brand cares about my feedback. And, as I mentioned earlier, it’s a missed opportunity to reinforce identity and show personality.
Another area is the verbiage, tone, and phrasing used within the survey. Most online survey platforms offer drag-and-drop question templates, but that doesn’t mean you have to stick with exactly that. People have an emotional connection with the brands they like, so why not tap into that emotion by establishing a more personal, conversational tone. When survey questions sound robotic or clinical, they’re less likely to evoke the feelings associated with a product or service experience. A great way to test your survey questions is to say them aloud as if you’re talking with a friend. Does it sound natural and authentic? Or does it sound forced and awkward? If we can establish a sense of two-way dialogue rather than a standardized test, we’ll capture more meaningful feedback and provide a more enjoyable experience for the person on the other end.
Lastly, get creative with the way questions and response options are presented. Just because something has always been done a certain way doesn’t mean it has to keep being done that way. Think about customer satisfaction questions. Typically, it’s a scale of 1 to 10 rated by clicking a bubble. If a customer had a really good or really bad experience, does that traditional approach truly capture their thoughts and feelings? From their side, does a numerical scale help them express the emotion attached to their feedback? Instead, try presenting images or flowery phrases to choose from. Think creatively and find ways to break up the monotony of what people have come to expect from a feedback survey. I promise, they’ll appreciate the effort. Wouldn’t you?
My next article will be the final piece in this series, and it’s one of the most crucial of them all. There’s no reason for letting the “submit” button be the final step of the feedback process. After the feedback is collected, there’s still more opportunity give and receive value. That’s why the fifth key to developing effective and engaging surveys is to maintain the feedback loop.
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.