Surveys are a strategic way to hear directly from your customer base and check on their satisfaction levels. This helps you to evaluate your company's strengths and weaknesses as well as understand what your loyal clients like and don’t like about you. This information really allows you to remain competitive. But even a well-designed survey has its limits. 

With a major problem being that it is incredibly hard to motivate clients to finish and return the survey in the first place. Plus there is always the risk that someone posts their complaints publicly if you don't ask your clients for comments discreetly. So here's how to conduct a customer survey that will provide you with a more in-depth understanding of how your company is doing, giving insight into the reputation of your brand, and ways to consistently enhance your customer’s experience.

Keep it brief and precise

By taking the time to participate in your survey and offer insightful feedback about your business, a customer is doing you a service. Show that you respect their time by keeping your queries brief. There is no set number of questions that you need to include in your survey, but most experts agree that it should take no more than ten minutes to complete. Anything longer and you risk losing their interest and they probably won’t complete the survey. Keeping your questions to a minimum also ensures that you carefully consider the kind of information that you want to receive. 

Timing is crucial

Send your survey to customers at the right time to receive the most replies. According to extensive research, sending your survey on a weekday during a low-peak period of the day, such as the early morning, lunchtime, late afternoon, or post-work evening, will result in the greatest number of replies.  You should also think about the best time to deliver a survey, along the client journey. To get in-depth information on each phase of the process, ask for feedback at various points during the customer’s interaction with your business and make sure you get in touch with them while the experience is still fresh in their minds.

Make it easy to finish 

Most customers prefer online surveys but there are other ways like contacting them telephonically or through your website. You can create and send surveys using a wide range of free and affordable apps and programs. Many POS systems come with apps that let you get instant consumer feedback. You can also easily create your own survey using tools like Survey Monkey and Google Forms. Once the survey is done, share a link with your customers via social media and email, and gently ask for their valued feedback.

Should you offer a reward?

Think carefully before you incentivise your customers to participate in a survey as you run the risk of hearing back from people looking for a reward with no real thinking behind it. That said, the right reward might persuade your customers to give you some honest criticism which is always useful. If you are going to offer a prize, carefully choose one which appeals to your customer. This will ensure that those who take you up on your offer will be your general target market and not just random people coming forward for free stuff. The reward should also relate to the survey itself. For example, if you want feedback on a new breakfast combo, give customers who eat the dish and fill out the survey a free beverage. You can also provide incentives that aren't monetary, such as loyalty points, discounts, or first access to sales. These incentives may be just the motivation a customer needs to offer up some of their time and give you their feedback.

The bottom line

Surveys are a vital tool to help you understand what your customers are thinking. But all too often they can be experienced as a drag. By applying some careful thinking as to how and when you send them though, you will be in a better position to entice your customer to respond generously with valuable feedback.

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