I completed the survey. Did you listen?

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So, I completed the survey. Did anyone listen?

As someone who promotes surveys as a key element of a customer engagement strategy, I like to participate in other surveys that I see. Some I like and some I don’t, but I have learned that it isn’t always the survey itself that I may dislike; it’s how its outcomes are communicated back to me – the willing survey participant.

Customers are more inclined to participate in a survey if they know they are being heard and can make a difference. But too often, I find myself asking “will anyone pay attention to my opinion?”

It is therefore important that, when planning a Survey, you should define what the participants need to get out of it, and map out how and when you will feedback about the findings.

For some quick polls and spot-ratings, their purpose is obvious and the outcome is implied (e.g. “thank you for calling our support desk, please tell us how Harry handled your call”). Many customers are happy to take a few seconds to respond to these.

But for other types of survey (e.g. a comprehensive Customer Satisfaction Survey), it’s important to “close the loop” to demonstrate that the survey feedback is valued and will be acted upon. The method to communicate the findings should also be explained during the survey engagement. For anonymous surveys, of course there is a lower expectation of being individually involved in the outcome, but nonetheless the information could be made available in a summary form.

So, when preparing such a survey, ask yourself “how do I ensure this will have a positive impact on the way my customers view my brand?” remembering the potential for negative as well as positive survey results. Here are some strategies:

  • Use a survey “welcome” page to explain (concisely) what the survey is for, why you value participation, and how the results will be made available.
  • Use a survey “thank you” page to thank the participants and explain how the findings will be acted upon.
  • Align expectation to reality. If you intend to communicate the detailed findings, then say so. If you intend to show only a summary of key findings, then say that.
  • Present an exit link on the “thank you” page to something of value and ideally related to your survey program – such as a blog that discusses the findings of your last survey.
  • For anonymous surveys, offer the participant a way to be informed of the result (i.e. by registering their email). Present a minimal form, and explain the purpose of the data collection. Make it optional otherwise your ‘abandon rates’ will increase.
  • Where you have contact details, then follow-up if you said you would. This extends the conversation, and underpins brand value.
  • Post a web page or blog that explains the findings, outcomes or action plan as appropriate, even as a summary, keeping the results anonymous. Or perhaps use an e-newsletter.
    Select an online survey application having automated alerts, so you are promptly alerted to negative survey answers.
  • Act promptly to engage with customers who express dissatisfaction.
  • If your sales process is structured around nominated Account Managers or Account teams, then you must make sure they are involved both in driving participation and supporting improvement programs.

Not all of these strategies are appropriate for all surveys, and you may have other ways to close the loop. Comment with ideas or strategies that have worked for you.

In summary, survey participants are voluntarily engaging with your brand, so develop that engagement into an ongoing conversation by closing the loop and acting upon (and be seen to be acting upon) the findings.