No matter how much effort you put into a survey, it won't do you much good if your audience doesn't answer -- or if you don't provide them with the right questions.
The basics of holding a survey are pretty clear. You create it, you tell people about it and they go fill it out for you. However, in reality it's a bit more complicated than that.
You need to make sure that your surveys are actually working. Whatever the purpose of your survey may be; checking on customer satisfaction, getting customer opinions on new products, or reaching out to them about why they cancelled their service -- it is vital to make sure that your survey is actually fulfilling this purpose. Otherwise you're wasting time and money.
So, how can you tell when your surveys are working?
1. The Number of Abandoned Surveys is Low
Let's face it, not many people actually enjoy taking surveys (though that's something we're working hard to change), and if it appears that it is going to take too much time, or if the questions don't interest the reader, they're not going to take the time to finish it.
If you are noticing a high number of click-throughs to your survey, but the amount of finished surveys is quite low, you've obviously got a problem.
The first fix is to ensure that you are leading off with questions that immediately grab the reader's attention and keep them going through the survey.
The second fix is the actual design of your survey. The average person may be intimidated when faced with a survey that looks chock full of text. They will immediately have the impression that it's going to take a lot of time to complete. Short, fun questions are vital to keeping your reader going throughout the survey.
2. Respondents are Providing Written Feedback
Closed-ended survey questions typically get a better result than surveys that require respondents to leave detailed information in their own words. However, a survey should always include a brief section for your respondents to leave their own feedback.
If a respondent is willing to take the time to share their honest opinion with you, this shows that your survey is a success. Your questions convinced them that you really want, need and care about their opinions and they feel comfortable going above and beyond to tell you in their own words what they think.
Conversely, if you are seeing a trend where you have absolutely no written feedback on your surveys, this is an indication that your questions didn't quite reach the respondent on that level.
3. You are Getting Honest Answers
How many surveys have you filled out where you simply wrote "blah, blah, blah" and gave the same exact answer for every question?
Chances are pretty high you've done this at least once -- and probably a whole lot more than that. Why does this happen? If a survey is dull, and a customer does not feel as though they are being engaged, they will tune out and they will simply not care. It's just another thing to get through.
If your survey is really working and you have truly engaged your respondent, you should be seeing at least some variation in the answers.
Now that you know what to look for in your survey results, it's time to put that information to use and further show your customers that you actually do care about their opinions and that you appreciate their efforts.