Oh hell. I’m just going to come out and say it. The only reason you should be doing an online survey is to make a business decision. That is – unless you’re doing one of those surveys to find out whether people would rather drink someone else’s spit or someone else’s sweat. (Who has time for this stuff?)
Decision Making — right? That’s the point here. I made this crazy statement that the only reason to do online surveys is to make a decision and now I’m going to give you some “trigger” moments that should raise the red flag that says “HEY! We should do a survey!”
You look at your financials and profitability has taken a tumble.
Oooo — sucks to be you. That’s usually a trigger that you are making less money than you were before. And since it seems like you’re working harder — that is no fun. The other problem is that you’re not exactly sure WHY all this is happening. Is it costing more to run the business? Are you selling less stuff, selling to the wrong customers, selling the wrong mix of products, etc. Lots of possibilities. You’ve got to find out what’s going on. So while the financial folks are doing their side of the math, you could easily use an online survey to find out if there’s something fundamentally wrong going on, on the customer side.
How to use online surveys to uncover profit-sucking elements of your business
Dropped profits are the perfect application for doing a quick online survey using the importance/satisfaction question type. The decision making power of this question type is inside the items or characteristics that you choose to measure. You see, if you just put in (pardon the expression) stupid stuff like “friendly service” or “on time delivery” — you are NOT going to be able to do anything about that. Seriously. Imagine sitting with $2 million dollars worth of management and saying we need to improve “on time delivery” — that doesn’t help you decide where to put your money — does it? Of course not.
You need to list powerful decision making attributes for your customer to rate or rank. I always suggest using things that you were considering doing in your business or things your competition does in their business. Things like:
- Personal greeter at the door
- Online chat 24/7
- Overnight delivery
Getting these attributes just right and focused on the actual decisions that you are considering will yield crazy good results in a short period of time.
Not reaching your forecasted revenue — Sales are DOWN!
There are really only two reasons that your product or service isn’t selling; you aren’t selling the right stuff and/or you’re not selling to the right people. Online surveys can actually help you target your audience with exactly the right products and services.
QuestionPro’s online survey tool is your decision making savior in this area. First, there are built-in segmentation tools that you can use such as our geography index which automatically tags each respondent with their geographic area.
Another often overlooked option is having the ability to upload and pre-populate information about your customers. The best way to do this is to create a list of customer respondents with their emails. Ultimately, you will upload this list into QuestionPro and send personalized invitations to take a survey.
But the super-sneaky and wonderful part about this process is that you’ll have the ability to upload up to 255 custom variables along with that. This is crazy powerful because you can pre-populate your data with all kinds of attributes such as frequency of ordering, product types purchased, industry segments or anything you can dream up that you THINK might influence their purchasing decisions.
And here’s something you may NOT have considered when it comes to targeting your audience. Online surveys are a critical tool in helping you identify psychographic target segments. This is how all the fancy demographers come up with segments such as “soccer moms.” They not only have demographic profiles of their customers, but they match those demographics with behavioral information. QuestionPro can do that quickly and easily — and you don’t need a PhD in stats to use it. (Trust me — I know!)
You’re sitting in a meeting arguing about what your customers really want
This is a favorite trigger of mine. There we all are. Sitting in a marketing or product meeting and arguing about what our customers want. “I think they want this” and “I know they want that.” “Customer ABC has told me countless times they want and they want Y.” This is a crazy waste of time.
The thing to do when you’re in one of those meetings is run a quick online poll with your customers. You can embed QuestionPro’s online polls in emails and as web site widgets quickly and easily. The best part is that you will be able to run your poll and get results in the time that it takes everyone to take a bathroom break. Granted, the results won’t be statistical, but you will certainly have customer feedback as part of your decision making process.
Now it’s your turn. Share all the different ways that you’ve used QuestionPro online surveys in your decision making process!