Businesses are at the mercy of their customers.
The customer determines whether a company thrives, survives, or fails.
That’s why you’re spending so much time, effort, and money on various marketing campaigns.
Targeting new customers.
Trying to retain existing customers.
Figuring out how to squeeze some additional profits from your best customers.
It may be exhausting, but it’s absolutely necessary.
All of these efforts can be summarized with two questions:
- What does the customer want and need?
- How can I provide them with those wants and needs?
That’s what it all comes down to.
What’s the most inexpensive and reliable way to get inside the minds of your customers?
Just ask them.
Asking your customers for feedback directly can allow you to make the necessary adjustments to accommodate their requests.
As a result, you can make more money.
Surveys and interviews are the best tools to help you get accurate comments, concerns, praise, or criticism.
Plus, it shows your customers you care about their opinions.
When customers don’t think you care about them, they’ll stop buying your products and services.
Based on the study above, we can see it’s by far the number one reason on that list.
Surveys and interviews are a great way to kill two birds with one stone.
You get valuable information that can make you more money, and it reinforces the message that you care about your customers.
It’s a win-win scenario, and everyone’s happy.
If you’ve never created a customer survey or conducted an interview with one of your clients, don’t be intimidated.
Believe it or not, it’s actually pretty simple.
I’ll tell you exactly what you need to know to get started.
How to create a customer survey
Before we go any further, let’s start with the basics.
You can’t distribute a survey until you create one first.
Once the survey gets built, you can distribute it on all of your marketing channels and communication networks.
But we’ll get to that soon.
For now, I’ll show you the best way to make a survey on a platform that is free and easy to use.
Building a survey with SurveyMonkey
SurveyMonkey is one of the most popular platforms to create a survey on the Internet.
The fact that they have a free option makes it easy to try it.
Step #1: Create a new survey
The first thing you need to do is create an account.
It’s quick, and you can even sign in with your Facebook or Google profile to make it even easier.
After that, navigate to the “My Surveys” tab at the top of the screen.
Just type in the name of your survey, and click “Create Survey” to continue.
Step #2: Choose a template
SurveyMonkey lets you build a template from scratch.
You can do it, but I think it’s way easier to just go with one of their existing templates.
In fact, it’s one of the reasons why their platform is my favorite choice.
For our purposes, we’ll navigate to the “Customer Feedback” templates.
I’ve selected the “Customer Satisfaction Survey Template” because it will work well for us.
Feel free to browse the other options to see which one fits best with the kind of information you’re trying to gather.
For example, if you’re looking for feedback about your website, there’s a separate template for that.
Step #3: Add questions
Each template will come preset with a bunch of questions based on the category.
But you can change the order, modify the questions, or create custom ones by using the question bank.
Your questions should be simple and easy to understand.
The questions should also be related to one another.
Find out exactly what kind of results you want to get from this survey.
I’ll discuss that in greater detail shortly.
Step #4: Distribute the survey to your customers
Now that the survey is created, you need to get it to your customers.
This is another reason why SurveyMonkey is a great option.
You have many different methods of distribution.
Sure, you can build a survey on Facebook and share it with your friends.
Or use your email marketing software to create a survey and send it to your subscribers.
But why do that when you can build one here, and it’s compatible with all your platforms?
This will save you a ton of time and make it way easier to analyze the results.
Step #5: Analyze the results
It’s not quite time to make any drastic changes to your business yet.
For now, you need to get organized.
Wait until you think there are enough responses before you do this.
Don’t try to figure out what your customers want if it’s been only 12 hours since you created the survey.
Give it some time.
While your company is obviously a top priority for you, taking this survey won’t be at the top of everyone’s to-do lists.
Give your customers an incentive to provide feedback
As I was just saying, this won’t be a priority for all your customers.
Can you blame them?
Sure, responding to a survey or interview may ultimately improve their experience, but not everyone will see it that way.
Some customers will see it as a demand on their valuable time that could be spent doing something else.
Sometimes, a little motivation can get them to respond.
Take a look at how Jack Spade does this with a survey distributed to their email subscribers:
Getting a 20% discount for taking a survey is definitely more appealing to a customer than a solo plea “Please take our survey.”
Do you notice anything else about this pitch that’s appealing?
As I said before, your customers don’t want to waste their time.
Acknowledge their time as valuable, and make sure the incentive is worth their trouble.
For example, offering a 10% discount for an interview that’s going to last hours and involve the customer testing out new products isn’t something you can reasonably ask.
On the other hand, giving out $100 gift cards for a quick survey that will take only two minutes to finish doesn’t make much sense either.
The key is finding that middle ground.
I’d say offer a minimum of a 20% discount for any survey the customer can take online in less than five minutes.
For in-depth interviews that happen in person or over the phone, offer an incentive that’s more valuable, like free products or gift cards.
It’s worth it to you to give stuff away to get more survey results.
Ensuring you get as many responses as possible will give you the most accurate results.
If only 20 people fill out your survey, they can’t speak for your entire customer base.
Set an objective, and stick to it
Let’s re-visit the point I was starting to make earlier when discussing the questions on your survey.
Your questions should be related to one another as well as your goal.
What is your survey or interview trying to accomplish?
Here’s an example from Barkbox:
This survey is super specific.
It was only sent to customers who ordered the October box.
All the questions will be worded accordingly.
But what’s the objective?
Let’s say they want to improve the overall quality of future delivery items.
The questions would focus on which products the customer would like to see again and which products they could live without.
Another objective could be about ways to generate more money. The questions could be then about the order frequency.
Is the customer happy with getting a box delivered once per month?
Maybe they would prefer getting weekly deliveries.
Each box would have fewer items and cost less, but the company would make more money over time.
Or they could deliver boxes every three months for even more money and cut down on shipping costs.
Either way, the questions would still center around the specific objective.
If it’s a simple survey, you may not even need to send an external link to the customer.
You can embed the survey directly in the interactive email, just like Expedia does with this one-question survey:
The primary objective for a goal like this could be PR.
They want to be able to say “X” number of customers or “X” percent of people had a good flight.
But at the same time, they’re still letting the customer know they value their feedback.
Establish a comfortable rapport with customers during an interview
Interviews can be tricky.
While surveys are often cut and dry with multiple choice responses or something of similar nature, interviews are typically in-depth.
It’s best to use interviews when you want to get a response that’s more thorough and open-ended.
A simple “satisfied” or “unsatisfied” survey response won’t do the trick here.
I recommend interviews for companies who have brick and mortar storefronts.
That way, you can see the customer in person.
It also increases the chances that the customer will be open to the interview.
In fact, a recent study by the Harvard Business Review suggests face-to-face inquiries are 34 times more likely to get a response than email questionnaires.
When a customer is in your store, politely ask them if they have five or ten minutes to get interviewed.
You want the customer to feel as comfortable as possible during the interview.
That way you’ll get accurate answers.
One of the main problems with face-to-face interviews is that you may need to take some of the responses with a grain of salt.
I’m referring to the psychological tendency that’s referred to as the social desirability bias.
Here’s what I mean.
The customer you’re interviewing may not be thrilled about every single aspect of your business.
But they’re happy enough to continue shopping at your store.
When you ask them questions about their satisfaction, their response may not be 100% truthful.
They are more likely to tell you what you want to hear as opposed to how they really feel.
This customer knows they are going to keep seeing you, and they don’t want to make things awkward by saying they think a certain product is bad.
Instead, they could avoid confrontation and just focus on the aspects they’re happy with.
This is no good.
You need the interviewee to feel comfortable enough to tell you how they really feel.
That’s the only way you’ll be able to make the right improvements.
Let them know as soon as the interview starts that you value their opinion and want to hear criticism.
You won’t be offended or upset if you hear something negative.
If you can’t establish this rapport with your customers, the interview results may be skewed.
If you want to generate more money for your business, you need to figure out what the customers want.
How do you find that out?
Just ask them.
Use tools like surveys and interviews to get constructive feedback from your customers.
You can find out what you’re doing well and what you need to improve.
Conducting surveys and interviews regularly will show your customers you care about them, increasing their loyalty to your brand.
To get as many responses as possible, offer your customers an incentive for taking the time out of their day to complete a survey.
Each survey and interview should focus on one particular objective centered around a specific goal for your company.
Any time you’re interviewing a customer in person, make them feel as comfortable as possible.
This will help you get the most accurate responses.
Combining these tactics will generate more money for your company.
Does your business prefer to use surveys or interviews to get valuable feedback from your customers?