I’ve been thinking about the “zen” of doing a successful survey. As with many things, it’s taking the time to perfect specific techniques that ultimately leads to not only high response rates, but high quality feedback that actually means something.
I’ve pulled together a series of successful survey tips that I’ll be sharing with you over the next few days. Take those in and why not add your own successful survey tips. When the series closes, I’ll include your tips and put out a best practices list!
As I was thinking about this series, it dawned on me that none of these tips are actually new. Yet, it’s our skill at implementing each of these elements that ultimately determines our success. The next thing that popped into my mind was the “Wax on, Wax off” scene from the “Karate Kid” and how the learning to do basic mundane actions can yield winning results. Enjoy.
- Focus on what decision you’re making. This is a twist on setting a survey objective. Often the reason we do surveys or gather feedback is to collect data so that we can make a decision. State the decision that you are making and include the criteria of the decision. For example, “Should we launch product X?” You might say that if more than 100 people are very likely to purchase product X at price Y, then you will go forward. This puts a laser focus on the questions that you will include in the survey.
- Use an invitation with well written subject that grabs the respondent’s attention. It’s no secret that respondents are focused on what’s important to THEM and not you. Write your invitation in a way that points out the potential benefits to the respondents in filling out the survey. The invitation is actually a PR opportunity for you to communicate to your respondents that you are engaged in creating a product or service that will benefit them. It’s an opportunity to differentiate your organization from others and highlight some potential improvements that your competition may not be offering it. Don’t let this opportunity go to waste.
- Use an introduction that makes the respondent feel important. Just because you’ve sent an invitation doesn’t mean that you should ignore the introduction to the survey. Today’s respondents want to know what you’re up to. Use the introduction to the survey as an opportunity to make them part of your team and include them in the development of something new and beneficial that will bring them value. This will put them in a mindset to provide honest and valuable feedback.
What are your successful survey tips BEFORE the survey even starts?
There’s a lot you can learn from considering the phenomenon of eye contact. Just a fraction of a second’s eye contact yields a huge amount of information that you can – and do – use as you communicate with your interlocutor. Thinking about how this works, and why we’ve evolved to do it, can pay big dividends. Take a look at this picture of three women and consider the amount of information you get almost instantly just by looking at their eyes. For just a little time invested you know a lot about if each person is happy or sad, if she’s anxious or if she’s at peace.
Eye contact is a big part of any conversation. And as you absorb the information – the feedback – you get from eye contact while having that conversation, you’ll find that you make subtle course corrections in what you’re saying and how you’re saying it.
This is a perfect, beautiful example of a feedback loop
. What is it that makes this feedback loop so successful? In thinking about this, two things jump out at us. First, it’s simple. (On its surface, anyway.) Your brain filters out extraneous information and focuses on certain vital cues which you’ve learned to watch for. You’re not overloaded with feedback. You’re fully focused on the other person’s eyes and what they’re doing with them. Second, it’s fast and it’s repetitive.
We don’t make eye contact once. Rather, we maintain this feedback loop during our conversations. Why have we evolved this feedback loop? Communication is among our most important human characteristics, and the ability to understand nonverbal cues is a big advantage. What’s even more interesting to consider is how this feedback system’s simplicity and repetitiveness has allowed it to evolve to become so important to us.
What’s evolving in your organization? Customer feedback initiatives are like anything else in corporate life. If we’re not careful, these programs can become bloated and ineffective. We suggest taking a page out of nature’s playbook and examining how you can use your customer feedback to give your organization “virtual eye contact” with lots of customers.
The big take-aways we see are those that have allowed eye contact to evolve into such an important part of who we are and how we communicate.
- Keep it focused by concentrating only on those vital cues that drive results. (For more ideas on this, read Choose One Thing.)
- Find a system for streamlining the results so your employees don’t have information overload. There are a variety of ways – including our software – to do this. Make it repetitive.
- Ask for feedback and share it with your employee-facing customers regularly.
How we use eye contact to help us communicate is one of those great examples of nature accomplishing something very powerful with simple elegance. We’d do well to emulate it.
About the Author
: Max Israel is the founder of Customerville
, a Customer Satisfaction Measurement Solution for Multi-unit Operators that can help you create happier customers and drive sales.