1. Define the “Why”
Surveying your customers is an efficient and simple way to get pure information straight from the source, and defining the objective of a customer outreach project is one of the most important steps in the survey design process. Clearly stated goals keep a research project focused. What do you want the survey to accomplish? Write down the purpose for your customer outreach, and what you plan to do with the data.
2. Define the “Who”
Think about who you plan to send the survey to. Is it a particular segment of your customers? Are they highly engaged? Whether you decide to send to the majority of your customer base or to a specific region or industry, strategize about whom you plan to target. Make decisions based on the results or goals you are seeking to achieve.
3. Refine the message
Before you can deliver the right message to the right people, you need to understand what that message is. Write out what types of proof points you want to get back. This will help you remain organized and stay on track while formulating your questions.
4. Create thoughtful questions
It is important to design your questionnaire in a way that’s easy for your customers to take, which will in turn increase response rate.
Follow these guidelines for best response rate:
- 10 questions maximum
- 1 question at a time
- Primarily use multiple choice questions to be able to generate metrics and reduce survey fatigue
- Provide 4-6 answer choices
- Avoid lengthy, awkwardly written questions and answer choices
- Provide at least 1-2 open-ended answer choices (customer testimonials)
- Choose rating scales that are appropriate to your customers
5. Determine optimal timeframes
Determine when you need your data back and set the launch date appropriately. Avoid sending simultaneous email campaigns. What days are the best to send? We’ve done a lot of testing here at TechValidate, and Monday and Tuesday morning have proved to yield the best response rates.
6. Send multiple-touch email campaigns
Before you can get results, you have to encourage people to open your email. Keep it short, and make it easy for the person to take the survey.
Send a 3 touch email campaign:
- Heads up email: Give your customers notice that they will be receiving a survey and communicate the survey’s value.
- Invitation: Sent the day after the pre-invitation, keep this email short and straight to the point.
- Reminder: Sent one week after to anyone who hasn’t responded, remind them how valuable their feedback is to you.
7. Don’t be annoying
Customers like to feel that their feedback matters, but at a certain point, too many requests can annoy them. Avoid fatiguing your customers with repeated requests or emails. Rather than asking customers for feedback at any chance, planning out a cadence of outreach can be extremely helpful.
From our experience, it’s appropriate to survey the same set of customer contacts up to once per quarter with unique outreach. Make sure to keep a master list available or use a database management system built into your survey platform so that different departments aren’t sending emails to the same person.
8. Offer an incentive
Offering tangible motivations when feasible for a survey respondent’s time is one way to boost response rates. We have also found that some customers experience internal incentive in the desire to voluntarily share their feedback, and knowing that their input is important is enough motivation for them to respond. However, a financial incentive has been proven to increase response rates.
9. Analyze the results
Determine your next actionable steps based on the data you’ve reviewed. Now it’s time to lay out your plans for doing something impactful with this data. Take time to sit down and look through the results thoughtfully. Don’t rush. Make sure to have solid next steps and a timeline for leveraging the data. Include action items to follow up with customers.
10. Prioritize sharing the data
Whether it’s internally or externally, determine who would benefit most from seeing the data you’ve collected and your conclusions. Creating a newsletter, designing and delivering a presentation, or launching a microsite can be great ways to organize and present the data. Learn more about how TechValidate customers use customer research in their marketing and sales processes here.