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Do you know what your customers are thinking? Just ask!

Do you know what your customers are thinking? Just ask! 

So, your business is growing fast. You’ve got the data on what’s going on, and probably a lot of it. But do you have a clear understanding of what’s shaping your business success or failure — and why? That level of insight has historically been difficult and costly to obtain, especially when you need to reach the people that matter most with ease and speed.

The easiest way to quickly find out why things are happening around your business and take relevant action is to just ask. Instead of spending valuable resources on the wrong priorities, it’s critical to focus on a deeper understanding of your customer or employee concerns and to collect that data fast. This approach is especially ideal when there is an issue that customers are already bringing up on social media or you are trying to decide on the best promotion idea for an upcoming holiday event.

Laura Wronski

An easy way to do this is to email a survey to your existing customer base directly or share it via social media. Or, you can use a tool like SurveyMonkey Audience to access new potential customers and get market insights around the world in just a few days. The key thing, however, is to treat your survey as a conversation. Respondents are growing weary of poorly designed surveys, so make sure you approach each one like an expert:

Represent your brand with a great design: An uninspiring look and feel can easily turn your potential respondents off, while a well-branded and easy-to-read template can significantly increase the number of respondents. Make sure your survey looks good: take the time to match your template to your brand standards, incorporate logos, and customize it without bringing in the art team—there are many great pre-designed survey templates you can use for surveys these days.

Skip the buzz words and explain the goal: You can get better quality results if you state the purpose of your survey up front and explain how results will be used—people get so many surveys that never lead to any action that they will appreciate being part of something important. Getting clear answers also means avoiding jargon in your questions. Don’t assume everyone you want to hear from is familiar with the terms your team uses internally or even what you think is well-known terminology. Use relatable phrases that can be understood by a very broad audience.

Length matters: Whether designing a survey for customers or employees, keep in mind that both groups are likely pressed for time. After analyzing over 26,000 SurveyMonkey Audience surveys, we found the median number of questions per survey was just 12. Shorter surveys also have higher completion rates, which means you will get better data quality overall. Keep length in mind and be strategic when designing questions.

Keep mobile users in mind and test your survey on the go: Many respondents complete surveys using mobile devices. Keep images and video usage to a minimum to streamline your surveys for mobile and use the Preview/Test function to see how it will look on mobile devices.

Adjust your surveys for better results: Once results begin trickling in, analyze them and adjust your questions accordingly if you identify red flags or spot gaps in the information. This speed and flexibility aren’t possible when working with an outside survey agency, which may not provide you results for weeks — another benefit of managing your own surveys.

Act on your results: If your survey reveals an unhappy customer, client or employee, reach out to address the issue. If larger trends are discovered, then issues management may require a broader team or departmental-level shift. It’s important to let employees and customers know that you hear and understand their feedback and are working on an action plan.

Laura Wronski is a research scientist at SurveyMonkey.

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