Customer surveys can be extremely useful in building and improving your business. This has been proven time and time again by large, high profile companies that use them to determine what changes should be made, and what things about their company should stay the same. Here are three examples of successful assessments that well known companies have run.
Walgreens: Walgreens runs an ongoing monthly survey, sweetened by a cash prize incentive for participating. The information is printed on every sales receipt. Every time a customer makes a purchase they get an opportunity to participate and enter the cash drawing. It can be taken either via phone or online; customers are directed to call a certain 800 number or go to a certain URL.
Walgreens monthly assessment demonstrates how successful research can be if there is something in it for the customer, such as the opportunity to win a cash prize. If a customer has to go out of their way in order to complete the survey, like going online or calling a phone number, an incentive is necessary to ensure that enough of your customers will complete it to make the results useful.
News Sites: Virtually every big news website uses assessments to gauge reader satisfaction with the site. These typically appear in a pop up window that overlays the text on the site. Not every visitor is presented with one, because visitors are normally chosen at random.
Once the window appears, the visitor can click to either accept or decline the request. If they accept, it usually opens in a new window, enabling the customer to go back to what they were doing when they are finished. If they decline, the pop up window disappears and the visitor is immediately returned to the page they were viewing. The survey usually takes a very short amount of time to complete, a fact which is stated on the pop up window.
Although there is no immediate incentive to encourage the visitor to take one of these, in actuality less incentive is needed because it is purposely made to be as convenient as possible. However, one mustn't overlook the indirect incentive these assessments can offer: there is always the possibility that the visitor's feedback and suggestions could result in a change that would benefit all involved.
eBay: eBay is famous for soliciting tons of feedback, such as feedback about transactions and other eBay members. However, eBay is also well known for periodically doing random customer assessments in order to find out how members feel about eBay itself.
Invitations to take a quick survey are typically emailed to eBay members. These can be relatively long and involved, compared to the other types discussed here. However, members typically have strong personal incentive to take them: For example, many members take them because they are unhappy with some eBay regulation or policy, and would like to provide input on what changes should be made.
What makes them successful? Clearly, there must be an incentive in order for your customer assessments to be successful. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that you have to provide the incentive, such as in the Walgreens review. As we saw with both new sites assessments and the eBay research, incentive can be customer driven, such as possibility of influencing the website or company policies.
Also we saw with all three that the incentive needs to be on a comparable level to the amount of effort it takes. In the Walgreens and eBay study, they required the effort of picking up the phone or going to a website, but the incentive justified the effort: the chance to win a cash prize from Walgreens, or the opportunity to influence the company they had a vested interest in. The news site study, on the other hand, was easy to do, and therefore needed considerably less incentive in order to be successful.
Examining customer surveys that other companies run enables you to analyze what works and what doesn't. By applying what you have learned, you should be able to run a reasonably successful examination of your own.
NBRI has over 20 years experience providing business owners with detailed valuable customer surveys ranging from online, on paper or via telephone. For more information please take the time to visit NBRII.com.