Four Ways Online Customer Surveys Go Awry & Easy Fixes

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At Farland Group, we help to facilitate customer advisory board meetings to make sure a meaningful dialogue is started, continued, and/or resolved. There is a specific distillation process to create a high-functioning meeting with an agenda that addresses customer concerns, advances partner interests, and resolves additional company issues. As you can imagine, making sure everyone gets value out of a meeting is a balancing act.

Often we have clients that look to scale this experience through online feedback forums and online surveys. Something funny happens when you try to replicate an in-person experience online. Often the balance of stakeholder interests is forgotten. Quickly in the absence of face-to-face input, companies tend to skew the survey toward their interests and forget about the need to gather input and uncover new insights from customers.

Below are four tips on how to build effective online instruments that maintain the voice of the customer:

The questions asked are not grounded in the client’s concerns: This is a pretty basic issue. Your customers want to engage with you in a two-way communication, and the survey needs to make them feel like they are able to weigh in appropriately. Ideally, you should work with a few customers to develop the survey, and then distribute it to a larger group.

Beyond that, there are some basic things you should do to engage them, like providing the opportunity to write a free-form answer if the survey choices aren’t lining up with their concerns. Understandably, there is a desire to keep things strictly multiple choice, so that you get clean data. But if the results aren’t actually addressing their issues, the data is already not as valuable as you might hope.

They’re just way too long: Giving customers too much work to do results in them dropping drop out before completing the survey. Instead, you need to focus on your key objectives to ensure customers can complete the survey within three minutes.

They are riddled with long, complex questions: Avoid technical language, industry jargon and acronyms to immediately get to the point.

They’re overly concerned with your Net Promoter Score (NPS): The current NPS obsession isn’t helpful in getting to know why a customer would or wouldn’t recommend you. Until you have a better understanding of why a customer would or wouldn’t recommend you, then you don’t really know the effectiveness of your customer experience. So, as much as you may want to influence NPS, you can’t do that by asking questions about it. You can only solve issues by understanding and solving the ‘why’ behind it.

Beyond that, you just need to remember that whenever you open up a line of dialogue with a customer, it needs to be two-way. Survey responses are customer feedback, and need to be addressed. Concerns need to be followed up. And suggestions need to be acknowledged.

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