3 tips for making a useful customer survey

Some market researchers have concluded that customers are less likely to fill out post-service surveys than they were a decade or so ago. Why? With the wide availability of online evaluation tools such as Reviews on Google and Yelp, most people prefer to reach out on their own terms rather than deal with comment cards and the like, according to an OpinionLab report covered by Forbes. Others simply don't have the patience or time to navigate complicated feedback forms.

That being said, companies that take time to perfect their survey processes usually see results. In fact, the industry-leading web feedback firm SurveyMonkey collects 3 million survey responses per day for its clients, many of which hold spots on the Fortune 500 list. In short, these things work, as long as they're made with the modern consumer in mind.

Want more feedback from the customers who support your service business? Review these three tips for making a useful survey:

1. Understand your goals
To start the survey-building, sit down and think about why you want to collect customer feedback in the first place, Inc. recommended. You may be considering adding new services or switching up your field operations – two key changes that require input from your community. Maybe you've received some complaints and want no pinpoint the exact source of the problem. Whatever the case may be, think about your objectives first. What's the point of collecting and sorting through a bunch of data if you're not clear on how to use it?

Customers are more than willing to take surveys as long as their brief and to the point.Customers are more than willing to take surveys as long as their brief and to the point.

2. Research your customers
Before you can make a survey tailored to your customers, you need to consider their habits, Entrepreneur advised. Do you have a lot of in-person interactions with the people you serve? Maybe a short paper-based survey will do. Of course, if you cater to a lot of computer users, you may need to put something up online. If most are in the latter camp, dig deeper. Do they engage with your website often? Have they responded favorable to email blasts? These answers will help you determine which route to take.

No matter which format you choose, it's best to understand how your customers like to interact before moving forward.

3. Draft concise questions
Once you have gotten a handle on your overall goals and picked a survey type, start drafting your questions. Now, shorter is always better. Customers aren't going to spend a lot of time reading paragraph-long prompts, so stay brief. Try something like, "What has been your experience with our field technicians?" Additionally, notice this question leaves room for an open-ended response. Why? Yes-no questions yield unusable information. You can't make substantial changes based on hundreds of single-word answers.

All in all, you want to end your writing session with five to seven punchy prompts that are easy to digest and allow for longer answers.

With these tips, you can put together a worthwhile customer survey and gather the information you need to move your service business forward.

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