Customer making a purchase in a retail store from an employee.
From making sure you are clear on your goals to testing out your survey prior to sending it, there are several best practices to follow when trying to garner customer feedback. — Getty Images/jacoblund

Surveying your customers is a great way to get feedback and figure out what is and isn’t working in your business. Some methods are more effective than others, however, so here are five best practices you can follow.

[Read more: 8 Popular Small Business Survey Tools]

Be clear on your goals

Before you try to survey your customers, you need to get clear on your goals. Why are you surveying your customers, and how will you apply this information?

For instance, is your goal to get feedback on a product or service, or are you hoping to gauge interest in a new product? Understanding your goals from the start will help you create a clear and concise survey.

If you realize that you have multiple goals, pick the one you want to focus on now. You can always revisit the other goals and survey your customers again down the road.

Keep your survey short

As you create your survey, it’s essential to keep it as brief as possible. Think about it from your customer’s perspective — would you be excited to complete a survey with 20-30 questions? Probably not.

But it’s not just about keeping your abandonment rate low — it’s also about the quality of the answers you receive. According to SurveyMonkey, your customers spend more time thinking about their answers when you ask fewer questions.

The company looked at over 100,000 surveys ranging in length from one to 30 questions to see the median length of time participants spent on their responses. Here’s an overview of their findings:

  • One question: 75 seconds.
  • Two questions: 40 seconds.
  • Three to 10 questions: 30 seconds.
  • 11 to 15 questions: 25 seconds.
  • 16 to 25 questions: 21 seconds.
  • 26 to 30 questions: 19 seconds.

[Read more: How to Create a Focus Group to Help Your Business Adapt and Grow]

Pick the right timing

Another critical factor to consider is when you send the survey. If you want to maximize the number of responses you receive, the timing matters.

According to SurveyMonkey, customer response rates are the highest on Mondays and the lowest on Fridays. Surveys sent on Monday received 10% higher response rates than usual, while the Friday surveys received 13% fewer responses than expected.

Of course, it’s always good to test this and see what works for your customer base. You might try sending out a portion of your surveys on different days of the week to see if certain days work better than others.

Decide how you’ll distribute your survey

Next, you need to decide which distribution channel your customers will prefer. The way you collect your survey will directly impact the responses you receive and your response rate.

For instance, email is a tried-and-true method of surveying your customers. You can schedule your email ahead of time and either embed the survey directly within the email or include a link customers can follow.

Another good option is sending your customers a survey via SMS. Data shows that 89% of customers prefer using text messaging to interact with brands, and it’s one of the fastest ways to reach out to your customers.

If you run a brick-and-mortar business, you can include a QR on the customer’s receipt. But if you do this, make sure you place the QR code in a spot that’s easy for the customer to see and access.

[Read more: What Is Text Message Marketing? A Guide to Getting Started]

Test your survey first

And finally, it’s a good idea to test your survey before sending it to all of your customers. Start by sending the survey to yourself — how does it look? Is it easy to interact with, and is the wording clear and concise?

From there, you can send the survey to a small test group. This will help you gauge the reliability of the survey and whether you receive consistent results. Once your testing is complete, you can send it to all your customers.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published April 25, 2022