Wouldn’t it be nice if customers came with an instruction manual? Then you’d know how they operate, where the “on” switch is, and how to power them up. As great as this sounds, there’s a more practical way to learn about customers – ask them in a survey. If done correctly, you can tap into what makes them tick and use that information to serve them better (before your competition does). Here are some important tips to build an effective survey for your small business customers.
Start by defining your audience. That will help you make decisions about what kind of survey to use. You want to be visible in the places where your audience lives so it’s convenient for them to complete a survey. For example, if your target is people who visit your website, you’re likely to get the biggest response with an online survey. If you’re surveying people who visit your restaurant, you might consider written survey cards available at the table. If you’re trying to reach potential customers, you might use social media to reach a wider audience.
Remember, your respondents are doing you a favor by completing a survey. So make it easy for them by letting them know what they’re in for. Tell them why you are conducting the survey and how you’ll use the information. For example, “We want to see how helpful our employees were today so we can improve our service.” Tell them how long it will take to complete it and by what date they need to finish it. You’ll also want to state whether their responses will remain anonymous. That’s especially important if you are asking for sensitive information.
How you ask a question is almost as important as what you ask. Closed questions like, “How often do you shop at our store?” require a limited answer and can be answered quickly. They can check a box, fill in a blank, or circle their answer on a scale of one to five. It’s easy to tabulate and compare responses.
Open-ended questions like, “How can we make your shopping experience easier?” will take more time to answer, and they’re not as easy to summarize. But they can give you more detailed information. Some surveys include both closed and open questions to get the benefit of each.
You want to get as many people as possible to respond to your survey. One way to do that is to offer an incentive or bonus to people who complete one. It might be a coupon, cash, a gift card, or a discount on their next purchase. These incentives would likely appeal more to current customers since they’re related to store purchases. Some businesses use contest drawings. Complete the survey and you’re entered to win the grand prize. This can be useful if you’re trying to expand your reach. It also gives potential customers a reason to check back to see if they won.
Surveys can be a great way to learn more about customers and prospects. Armed with this information, you can send them more relevant content and offer the products and services they want. Start with these tips to build an effective survey.