This week, Beth Teitell at the Boston Globe reminded us of something we all know: Customers are inundated with satisfaction surveys. She writes that SurveyMonkey “is now processing survey responses at the rate of 2.2 million per day, up from 1 million a day in January 2013.”

Yes, 2.2 million survey responses per day. From one site.

Granted, SurveyMonkey is one of the best-known online survey platforms in the country. And key to their success, they promote that a simple, do-it-yourself survey will yield important insights—it won’t.  From our research we know, most customer feedback surveys turn customers off—by tuning customers out.

So, what are the keys to making your survey stand out? Two words: Be authentic. The easiest way to be authentic is to use an outside analyst who can design your survey, analyze its results, and give you the genuine customer feedback you need. Here are three ways that the right analyst will ensure your survey is authentic:do-it-yourself-quote

1) Keep it fresh. If you’re not routinely making small changes to your survey, your customers will start to think of you as a broken record. Even worse, overusing the same survey makes customers feel like you’re not listening to their feedback. A customer feedback analyst can advise you on which small changes will be most effective. If your survey is short (or needs to stay largely intact for legacy reasons) an analyst’s recommendations will prove invaluable.

2) Keep it focused. For most companies, the customer feedback survey is an employee’s side project. But an authentic survey takes time to craft and even more time to perfect. An analyst’s independent perspective prevents assumptions from clouding customer listening. Plus working with an outside customer feedback analyst ensures that your survey gets the attention it deserves—without hiring additional staff.

3) Keep it real. Your customers’ lives are saturated with surveys, so when they take time to give you feedback, their thoughts are valuable. A customer feedback analyst will write open-ended questions that encourage respondents to engage and share. And they’ll rigorously analyze your customers’ comments. With the right questions and the right analysis, you won’t need to rely on assumptions about your customers—the meaning will shine through.

Beth Teitell is correct when she says, “Writing a good survey question is harder than it looks. Questions need to be concise, specific and neutrally phrased.” This was true before, but today’s customers are flooded with surveys now more than ever. Your customer feedback survey will stand out when you show your customers that you’re willing to stop talking and start listening, really listening. And in the days of SurveyMonkey, et al., using a customer feedback analyst is the best way to be authentic.


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