Survey know-how series, part one of four:
Shape your survey questions to get the most valuable information.
In a world full of emails, advertisements and direct mail, adding surveys to your communication mix can be an effective way to let your subscribers know that you're listening as well as talking. The simple act of asking people what they think, want and know can open up a dialogue that will allow you to glean valuable information and also let your subscribers feel heard and valued.
Like email, however, a successful survey needs some careful planning and execution. In this first post of our new survey know-how series, we're covering the "how." That is …
"How the heck can I write solid questions and answers that will result in a positive survey experience for my audience and valuable insight for me?"
- Think about the layout of your questions. Start with a few non-threatening questions, such as the person's experience with the subject or some non-specific demographic information, such as state of residence or an age range. You probably only have about 20 – 30 questions worth of attention span, so think about what questions are going to get you the most valuable answers. In most cases, asking up to 50 questions, such as Emma now lets you do, is best used for particularly devoted respondents or for a more in-depth look at an issue. In these situations, it's helpful to clearly explain the purpose and benefits of the survey to your audience so that they're more likely to stay engaged.
- Ask one question at a time, to avoid frustrating or confusing your respondents. For example, if you allow Yes/No as answers for the question "Should we spend less money on A and put that money toward B," you may lose the attention of those who agree that A is getting too much funding but don't agree that B deserves it.
- Write answers that are both exhaustive and mutually exclusive. To do that, make sure that all possible answers are available, but that none of them overlap. Add an "other" option if necessary to achieve exhaustiveness. So for example, if you're asking for age ranges, the following answer choices are difficult for both 19-year-olds and 30-year-olds: A) 20-30 B) 30-50 C) 51 and above. (Sure, that example seems obvious, but we've all taken surveys and been faced with similarly impossible-to-answer options.)
- Lastly, use neutral language to avoid bias. Write your questions so that the respondent wouldn't be able to guess your opinion or preference. Steer clear of leading questions or particularly positive or negative language. For example, "What is your favorite Emma summer feature enhancement?" would work better than, "Isn't is awesome that you can now add up to 50 survey questions?"
Taking the time to order your questions thoughtfully and frame your questions effectively creates a survey that can give you just the kind of information you're hoping to learn about your audience. And this knowledge can be a valuable tool in your organization's decision-making.
Once you couple that survey with a "Thanks for taking our survey" automatically triggered email, you're well on your way to having customers who feel pleased and appreciated.
Next in the survey know-how series, we'll explore the "why" of customer experience follow-up surveys.