Tips on Improving Your Survey and Market Research Results

  • Oct 4, 2011

improving survey results

Are You Surveying Customers for Honest Feedback?

Austin, Texas: Businesses are constantly talking about their willingness to listen to their customers and how much they value their feedback.

Is that so?

This past week, I just received a series of emails from five different vendors asking me to vote for them in particular categories for an industry magazine’s end-of-year awards list. Some of these companies I do not even remember, let alone want to take the time to vote for. None of them asked me for my feedback — just for my vote.

In addition, I got a call last week from a vendor asking me to rate him postively in several categories, so that he would get my recommendation for admittance to the industry as a bona fide supplier. Did he ask me any questions about how the transaction went or for any other suggestions or feedback?  No, just my recommendation.

While visiting a fast food restaurant the cashier handed me a receipt telling me that I can go online and complete a survey for a chance to win $250.   A chance to win? You’ve got to be kidding. I want to be rewarded for my time.  If I complete a survey, not only do I want to remain anonymous, I want to win a guaranteed prize–like a free dessert coupon, a music download, etc.

Do you really want to learn what your customers feel about your product and/or service?

If so, then you need to reward them for taking the time to give you honest feedback.

In addition, you need more than multiple choice answer boxes.

Leave room for engagement questions, like ” How can we improve our customer service” or “What menu item would you recommend to a friend who’s never eaten at this restaurant before”.

I exhibit at about a dozen trade shows per year — mostly for the opportunity of engaging with my clients and prospects.  I use these shows as inexpensive market research, testing new product introductions and getting feedback on our existing incentive programs.  

These trade shows always pay for themselves in customer feedback alone, as I gain a wealth of knowledge from these shows, as I act like a sponge, trying to get a picture of why my clients buy from me, what they’d like to see different, what they might prefer that my competition is offering, etc.

Are you managers at these shows asking engagement questions — or are they too busy to learn what customers want?

Ask open ended questions.  The next time a restaurant manager walks up to me right after I have just taken a bite out of my meal to ask me, ” Is everything great?”, I may end up choking on that delectable morsel.

Ask  for my feedback while in line, while bringing me the check, while waiting for the valet — or any time where I have a few moments to gladly answer some honest questions.

Ask the tough questions.  Ask me what I’d change about your reservation policy, or new website design, or hours of operation.

Don’t guide me towards useless answers that just elicit responses like “Everything is great” or “Just fine”.

Are you trying to stroke your ego, engage in mindless chatter or do some valuable market research?

Are you posting questions on Twitter that engage your audience? Sure, many people go online just to voice a complaint.  But if you engage with you customers online and ask for honest feedback (even criticism), then you have the opportunity to improve your business dramatically.

What will you be asking your customers over the next few weeks to better improve your product or service?

I hope so.  Make it part of your modus operandi.

Please share with me the kind of open ended questions you will be asking your customers and prospects.  I would love to share it on a future blog.


  • Category: Blog, Survey and Questionnaire Incentives
  • Tags: customer survey, digital incentives, digital rewrds, market research, music download card promotions, survey incenitves, survey rewards