How do you know what your customers want? Perhaps you should ask them.

Surveying your internal or external customers gives you hard information on which to base decisions about product development, marketing campaigns, resourcing or any other area where you organisation or department interacts with another group (which means in nearly everything you do).

Advantages of Online Surveys

Online surveys have several advantages over other forms of data collection:

  • Accessibility The same survey can be accessed by all users in all your offices or by all your clients without needing to visit them or post paper forms.
  • Efficiency Because the survey responses are collected automatically, there are no double-handling or editing errors (although a good survey tool will allow the administrator to check and edit responses if required)
  • Consistency The responses entered in the survey can be checked before being accepted with appropriate feedback to the user if they have entered invalid values.

Survey What?

Now that your convinced surveys are a good thing, what should your survey look like?

Some survey suggestions:

  • Product feedback A product or service can be improved by knowing how the current users or customers feel about it, how they use the product and where it fails to meet their requirements.
  • Customer service perceptions Are your customers happy with the level of service or support that you provide? What communications methods do they prefer? What can you do to streamline the process of meeting their needs?
  • System requirements Planning for system upgrades may require hardware changes (new computers) but may also be driven by the requirements of different users. Perhaps your processing clerks don't need the same level of performance as your graphic designers? It really depends on what software they regularly use - not what's installed on their computer but what they actually use.

When Online Surveys Don't Work

There are some circumstances where a web based survey is not appropriate. If your survey group doesn't have internet access or it is impractical for them to enter the data then you might need to collect information on paper and enter it into a reporting tool, which might be a spreadsheet or a database.

And then there are the times where form based surveys are just not appropriate and a face to face interview is required.

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