A good questionnaire can be a very powerful tool. Not only does it allow you to find out what your customers think about a number of topics and areas relating to your business but it’s also a great way to boost customer loyalty and build relationships by making a customer feel valued and consulted. But what makes a successful survey?

Firstly we need to ask and answer the question…Why questionnaires and what are their benefits?

Questionnaires and surveys are straightforward, they give immediate outcomes, provide opinions and are easy for people to fill out. A short questionnaire with the right questions can be as effective as hours of focus groups and they instill a sense of value in your customers as people love to give you their opinions and think they are involved in the decision making process. Plus, the questionnaire is a very unthreatening way to approach people and provides a forum for honest feedback from people.  You will be amazed at the response rate you will get just from asking nicely for completion, and this rate will only increase if you incentivise your audience thus making questionnaires a very effective and cost effective way to gather feedback, opinions and suggestions.

Besides being a useful business and product development, and service improvement, tool a returned questionnaire gives you a reason to re-engage with your customer making it a great re-marketing and indirect re-activation tool too.

Okay, so we have briefly covered the ‘why’ now we need to look at the ‘what’ – what content do you put in a survey for maximum results and how do you formulate it?

People agonise over making surveys short for maximum response, but do not fear a long survey. As long as the questions seem natural and logical to the reader, they will complete it once the first few questions have been answered.

If you have some questions which are more important than others make sure the survey has clear sections — the first with the main questions, then the next introduced with the words “You do not have to answer these, but if you do so, it’ll mean x, y and z benefit…and will only take a few minutes more…”

Open questions encourage your customers to think about their answers more too and to go into greater detail with their responses so it is best to try and use these as well as ‘rate your experience on a scale of 1-10 smiley faces’.

So you’ve got your layout and question type sussed what are you now going to do to increase the response rate?

Here are a few simple tips:

A lot depends on how honest the introduction to your survey is. If  you explain honestly to the recipient why you are doing the survey it will give them a better idea of what to put in their answers and how they can help.

What is in it for the respondent? You can choose to incentivise your survey or part of it to increase the response rate – something simple like a discount for completion or being entered into a draw is usually sufficient.

Explain how the results will be used and even offer a copy of the results to increase the likelihood of more honest answers.  If it is something your customer feels passionate about then they will tell you – especially if they think their feedback will have an impact.

People love being asked for their opinion ( e.g. “your opinion matters to us”), so use flattery to increase participation. After all we all love to feel important don’t we?

And just before the final point you need to think about the structure of your questionnaire. Much depends on the layout and content so make it easy to read and understand, and consider your typography.  The use of colours, grids and boxed sections make it look less daunting and easier for users to fill out.

Now, last but by no means least, which channel or channels are you going to use to distribute your questionnaire.  It’s not as simple as ‘as long as they get it we will get answers’, this is flawed as how you distribute it can affect results.  For example, if you only distribute it online will this give biased/slanted results based on your online demographic..?

If you are a little unsure of how to take the next step in the questionnaire process then please do get in touch, we have had lots of experience in this area and can offer advice and point you in the right direction.

Next week we will look at the basic fundamentals of email marketing – Exciting!

How to compile a questionnaire and use the answers

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