One of the best ways to get feedback from your customers is through a web-based survey. A web-based survey will make it possible for you to get feedback from customers who would probably have been unresponsive to other types of surveys. For instance, there are customers who would view it as ‘too much work’ to take part in phone-based surveys. But once they are given the opportunity to relay their feedback online, it looks convenient to them. Similarly, there are customers who would be hesitant to give candid feedback in face-to-face in-store interviews. But once they have a chance to relay their feedback over the Internet, they find it easier to give their opinions with the necessary candor. In a similar manner, customers who would have viewed it as ‘too much work’ to give feedback through snail mail (or even through email) may be better inclined to give the feedback, if they are offered a chance to do so through an online survey.
The success of a web-based customer survey depends on how well designed it is. You therefore need to take some time to design the survey properly, before going ahead to launch it. In the process of designing a web-based customer survey, you will need to:
- Make a decision on the survey objectives: So the key question you need to ask yourself here is as to what you will be seeking to achieve through the survey. This is important, because you have to start with the end in mind, if at all you are to achieve any level of success in any endeavor. Customer survey objectives differ. You may find one business undertaking a customer survey to (just) find out whether customers are getting satisfied with whatever it is selling. You may find another business undertaking a customer survey to get suggestions from customers on how to improve on its merchandise/services. You may find yet another business undertaking a customer survey to simply show the customers that their views matter (you know, as part of a broader customer retention strategy)… So they are so many reasons as to why a business can launch a customer survey. You have to figure out why exactly, in your case, you are undertaking the survey. The decision you make in that regard will then tell you what the best way to craft and launch the survey is.
- Make a decision on the format of the survey: Will the survey take the form of questions that the customers are expected to give answers to? Or will the survey be one where customers are to be given a blank space to write about their shopping experiences? If you have opted for questions, what form would the questions take? Would you be opting for a survey where there are very many questions, or one with just a few questions? Will you be running the survey on a webpage that is part of your business’ website, or would you be setting up a separate website on which to run the survey? Those are some of the questions you need to ask yourself while making a decision on the format of the survey.
- Make a decision on how you are to get customers to participate in the survey: Will you, for instance, be including a message in the customers’ receipts, telling them to consider taking part in the survey? Or are you to run an advertising campaign, targeted at your customers, telling them to take part in the survey? Or would you be opting for a system where you have the checkout staff at your stores inviting the customers to consider taking part in the web-based survey? Will you be linking the survey to a sweepstakes drawing in order to get more people to take part in it? Or will you be offering discount codes to the customers who complete the survey? Those are some of the important considerations here.
- Create the customer survey webpage: You can have a webpage where the customers would be entering some details from their receipts (the receipts they obtained after shopping at your stores). Then, after entering the details from the receipts – and hence proving that they really are your customers – they can be served with the survey questions. The most important thing is to ensure that the survey webpage is one that encourages to continue with the survey, rather than one that discourages them from doing so. The webpage should be one that works well both on the traditional computing devices (desktop computers and laptops) and in mobile computing devices. This is important because inevitably some people, possibly majority of the people, will attempt to complete the web-based survey on their mobile devices.
- Undertake a pilot trial of the customer survey: This is an important part of the survey design process. The idea is to see how well the customers respond to the survey, and whether there are parts of the survey that need to be tweaked, before it is officially launched. You may involve a limited number of customers in the pilot trial.
- Act on the findings from the pilot trial of the customer survey: For instance, the pilot trial may reveal that some of the survey questions are ambiguous. So your bit there would be to come up with clearer survey questions. Or the pilot trial may reveal that many of the customers who start the survey don’t complete it. In this case, the action to take would be to consider shortening it or dealing with whatever other issues that are making the customers not complete the survey.
- Figure out how the survey findings are to be acted upon: This is another easily overlookable (yet critical) part of the survey design process. It is important to first make a decision on how the feedback received from the customers through the web-based survey is to be conveyed to the respective departments in the business. It is also important to consider empowering the various line managers to make the (sometimes difficult) decisions they will need to make, on basis of the feedback received from customers through the survey. If you don’t deal with these issues at the survey design stage, you will end up in a situation where you won’t know what to do with the feedback received from customers.