Surveys allow businesses across all industries to efficiently collect honest feedback, opinions and responses from customers and employees, and use that information to improve operations, make any necessary adjustments to the onboarding process, increase sales, reduce costs and uncover product development opportunities. Survey responses can either confirm the effectiveness of current practices or provoke discussions on strategic business decisions and provide unbiased data to guide decision-making. Feedback gleaned from surveys can also tell you what customers think about your brand and products, as well as provide a baseline for comparison over time. However, there are a range of survey types and techniques, so before designing one, you should understand the difference between them so you can select the type of survey most suited to your needs. It is also important to be familiar with the best practices for putting together a survey that will give you valid results you can use, and ensure higher rates of completion.
There are two main types of survey techniques:
The following types of surveys can help your business in different ways.
A market research survey enables you to gather information about your market, such as how and where your products are purchased, your customers’ demographics, and the competitive landscape. You can use this type of survey to research a specific target market, measure brand awareness, and identify product and pricing opportunities.
You can conduct a market research survey when you have no data about an audience or a product (e.g., to evaluate a target audience’s feelings about a product you are about to launch). You can also build upon data you’ve already gathered and measure it against a benchmark (e.g., to see how a newly launched product is being perceived in the market one year after launch).
Market research surveys can help you grow your business by doing the following:
A lead generation survey enables you to gather contact information and some preferences from your target audience. It allows you to assemble a list of prospects who might be interested in purchasing your product or service.
A lead generation survey should be focused, as you don’t want to turn off respondents with too many questions. It should include a minimal number of form fields for gathering contact information (e.g., first name, email address), an opt-in checkbox for email subscription and a question related to their preferences regarding your product or service.
Lead generation surveys can help you grow your business by doing the following:
A brand awareness survey enables you to determine how well your customers know your brand, the meaning of your name and logo, and what your brand stands for. It’s important to be memorable so that customers will think of you when they’re looking to purchase products or services.
Use these metrics when creating a brand awareness survey:
Creating brand awareness is essential for building an audience. You can use a brand awareness survey, as well as market research data, to create marketing that communicates your brand name and the associated products or services.
Brand awareness surveys can help you grow your business by doing the following:
A customer satisfaction survey enables you to measure your customers’ satisfaction with your company and your products or services. It can also help you to increase sales. Prospects and customers will respond to positive reviews from other customers, especially if the reviews are published online. However, you cannot force customers to say they are satisfied or to fill out a customer satisfaction survey. Ask the right questions, and make it fun and inviting for customers to fill out.
Customer satisfaction surveys can help you grow your business by doing the following:
An event evaluation survey enables you to get customer feedback on your event. It also measures the success of the event after it has concluded, which helps you better plan events in the future (or determine whether they are even worth doing).
The event evaluation survey can also help you determine if and how attendees viewed the event differently. Some attendees might not have enjoyed a particular part of the event, while others might have loved it. Match the tone of your event evaluation survey to the tone of the event (i.e., if it’s a fun event, make the survey fun as well).
Event evaluation surveys can help you grow your business by doing the following:
A new-hire survey lets you identify problems with your onboarding process and make any necessary changes to ensure a positive experience for future employees. It also highlights employees’ experience during their first weeks or months on the job, which can really set the tone for their morale and productivity in the long term. The results of new-hire surveys can increase employee satisfaction, helping you attract and retain employees. A new-hire survey should be given within an employee’s first few months on the job.
New-hire surveys can help you grow your business by doing the following:
An employee satisfaction survey enables you to determine whether employees are satisfied with the work environment. It involves asking employees for feedback on different parts of the job and allowing them to list concerns or frustrations with the company. The survey should include questions about the company’s atmosphere and how employees feel within the team environment. Positive survey responses can show that employee motivation is high and that there is a sense of strong team spirit.
Conduct the employee satisfaction survey annually to monitor sentiment over time. Protect employees’ anonymity when they are completing the survey, which will result in more honest answers.
Employee satisfaction surveys can help you grow your business by doing the following:
A job satisfaction survey enables you to evaluate an individual employee’s views on the company and determine how satisfied they are with their job. It is similar to an employee satisfaction survey, but it targets specific roles. Conducting a job satisfaction survey can directly influence employee morale, so be sure to protect employee confidentiality.
Job satisfaction surveys can help you grow your business by doing the following:
A training evaluation survey enables your employees to provide feedback and opinions on company training programs. The survey can ask about the quality of the training content, how relevant it is to their role and how well the instructor did. It can also help you evaluate how well the course content was understood, allowing you and the instructor to address issues promptly. Conducting a training evaluation survey will help you get the most out of your training budget and resources.
Training evaluation surveys can help you grow your business by doing the following:
An exit interview survey enables you to find out why an employee chose to leave the company. People might leave due to personality conflicts, a lack of advancement opportunities, better financial incentives at other organizations or personal reasons. Identifying the reason for a departure tells you for certain why someone left, which will help you determine if you can do anything to improve.
When combined with other surveys related to employee satisfaction, the exit interview survey can provide valuable information on how to improve the work environment. In addition, this type of survey can identify what employees enjoy and what you are doing well.
Exit interview surveys can help you grow your business by doing the following:
While the specifics of crafting a good survey that meets your needs will vary depending on what those needs are, there are some general rules for creating any survey that are important to keep in mind. William B. Armstrong, director of student research and information at the University of California, San Diego, offers some basic survey tips:
Once you’ve put your survey together, the next challenge is getting people to complete it. Offering an incentive, such as a discount, gift or prize, is a great way to motivate respondents to take your survey.
If your organization lacks the time and/or resources to assemble and/or implement a survey, there are many third-party companies that can assist with all or part of the process, such as Delighted, SurveyMonkey, CustomerThermometer, Nicereply, Askia, Global Survey, IntelliSurvey and Just The Facts, Inc., to name a few.
Some customer service platforms, such as Zendesk, Help Desk and Help Scout, offer built-in customer experience surveys, although these tend to be short and ask broad questions, and may not meet your needs.
Call centers and answering services are a great option for outsourcing phone questionnaires. There are an overwhelming number of options available, but we’ve assembled a list of the best call centers and answering services to guide you through the process of choosing the one most suited to your needs.
Jocelyn Pollock contributed to the writing and reporting in this article.