Getting customer feedback with online surveys

Happy customers are an excellent source of advertising for your products. Through word of mouth they tell others about their positive experiences, recommend your products and services, and are likely to remain customers. As the cornerstone of customer retention and customer care, it’s important to ensure that customer satisfaction sits firmly atop any business’ list of priorities. In order to measure this value, it’s necessary to receive regular feedback from your users by creating online surveys and for users to fill out. The results will then reveal what customers like and where you can improve your offer. In the text that follows, we’ll explain why online polls are so popular and what you need to pay attention to when you create an online survey.

Online customer survey: advantages and opportunities

Online surveys are beginning to replace traditional survey methods that rely on handwritten results. Generally, the same methodological requirements apply to both formats: the goal of the survey should be as clearly defined as the target group itself; the questions should be specifically tailored to your product offer or somehow be relevant to it. Online surveys are being used more and more these days due to the advantages that their digital formats offer. Here’s a list of some of the advantages of online surveys:

  • Time and location bear no significance: a survey that’s published online can be answered at any time and from any location. The results are available immediately upon the survey’s completion. 
  • More manageable: thanks to digital data processing, it’s much easier to spread and evaluate an online poll. This is particularly advantageous when dealing with larger numbers of participants, as this processes is entirely paperless; instead, a simple invitation via e-mail or within an online store is all that’s needed.
  • More possibilities: the format of electronic surveys opens the door to many possibilities that were not available to traditional survey methods. For example, those conducting surveys are now able to use special filter functions, randomizers as well as other features with which the sequence of questions found in a given survey can be generated. Additionally, online surveys can be upgraded with different types of media, like images, videos, animation, or audio files.
  • Information for editing: the way in which users fill out surveys is automatically recorded. This allows you to gain information on the amount of time users have spent on each page and the location in the web presences where the viewer last looked. All of this information provides you with valuable insights on how to improve your survey.
  • Environmentally friendly and space saving: with an online survey you save more than just paper; the place needed to store all the printed paper is also spared.

Once you’ve created an online survey, you can then promote these in different ways by including them in newsletters or featuring them as popups on your company website. Within retail, it’s important to ensure that such mail is sent soon after the product in question has been purchased in order to obtain reliable results. Additional measures for publicizing surveys include announcing them via social media or implementing QR codes that forward users directs to the online survey. Keep in mind, however, that surveys open to the public may be prone to delivering easily falsified results if no limitations are in place that restrict certain users.

How to create an online survey?

There are different applications available for designing online surveys; these tend to vary in price, opportunities for use, and the size of the survey in question. For some specific survey types there are free tools available that evaluate the respondents’ questions — Facebook surveys are an example of this. For more extensive surveys, there are both web as well as desktop applications available. The latter variant is often obtainable with providers that also take over the responsibility of hosting data. Here, it’s particularly important to consider data protection. In any case, website owners have to rely on security measures in order to ensure that their respondents’ personal information remains protected. Generally, different packets with different polling options and prices are offered.

While the operation of the application may vary, there are standard tasks involved when structuring any survey, and these apply to both online polls as well as any other sort of customer survey. What counts here is to make sure that survey questions have been formulated in a suitable manner. 

Determining the right type of questions to ask

Before trying to find the best way to pose a question, it’s important to be aware of what type of information you hope to gain from the question. Depending on what you aim to find out, the following three types of questions may prove more or less useful in an online survey:

  • Questions about characteristics: these primarily involve questions that give insights on the respondent’s age, location, and family background.
  • Questions about beliefs: these questions revolve around the customer’s views regarding a past, current, or future issue. Here, it’s not so much about finding the right or wrong answers as it is to reflect an accurate picture of reality. For example, a potential question could be, ‘Who’s going to win the next election?’
  • Viewpoint and opinion questions: these questions help deliver insights on how respondents evaluate certain issues. For example, ‘There are too many television commercials.’ (Possible answers: ‘I agree’, ‘I disagree’).
  • Behavioral questions: the behavioral preferences of a user can be found out by asking them how they would react to a certain situation or, if applicable, how they have reacted to this situation in the past. For example, ‘Would you be willing to accept more frequent commercial breaks in exchange for free access to cable television?’ (Possible answers: ‘Yes’, ‘No’, further questions, if applicable; follow-up ‘Why?’ also possible).

Properly formulating questions

When you design your survey, it’s crucial to formulate your questions in such a way that allows respondents to answer them as truthfully as possible. Open questions, while full of potential in terms of the type of answers they may reveal, often tend to deliver results that are too varied to glean coherent feedback. Closed questions specify answers for users, but don’t allow for any individual answers. You should make sure to cover any potential possible answers. What’s more, the questions should be constructed in a clear and conscience manner so that they’re as logical and neutral as possible.

The right structure for your online survey

With a well thought-out structure, you can ensure your survey is filled out to the very end. Interesting questions about different topics helps arouse the interest of the respondents. Transitional questions help guide the user through the survey. Structure questions into different themes. More sensitive topics and personal questions should appear at the end of the surveys or at least within appropriate portions of the poll. Make sure to also pay attention to the length of your survey, both in terms of the number of questions as well as the number of potential answers.

Creating online surveys: tips for distribution

When creating your survey, it’s important to make sure that a sufficient number of users are able to find it. As mentioned above, distribution platforms include social networks, your website, newsletters, and QR codes, which can be spread through print media or in brochures. You can gain additional participants by rewarding survey respondents with a gift certificates or an entry into a sweepstakes. For web store operators, it’s often enough to offer your customers regular evaluation possibilities. This helps make it clear that feedback surveys present an opportunity to increase the quality of your shop.