Friday, October 2, 2009

What to Ask in Your Online Surveys

Online surveys are a very important tool in the online world to gauge the opinions of respondents on how they feel about your products and services, your level of service, or any other factor that they have direct experience with you on. Surveys are powerful tools outside of the realm of business as well, since they are able to make significant changes to corporate policies with respect to society and environmental issues. They also make a significant impact on governmental policies when used as a force to petition. Within the realm of trading operations between a vendor and a customer, surveys are used to understand what kind of changes are required to be made to your products and services that will, for you, increase sales and revenue and, for the customers, increase the value proposition and service levels. Bearing this is mind, it is therefore necessary to ask questions based on a paradigm of getting your current service offering completely right according to customers, improving the existing offering, and then catering to user aspirations.

The whole process should start with understanding your customer demographics. This can be the first few set of questions in any survey. After that, ideally, online surveys should list questions about the existing product line and what the people think about it. Using this method, you will find out all the faults within your existing products and rectify them well before you get a stock of defects and sales returns.

After you implement all the changes, your next round of surveying should ask for information on what can be done to improve the current product line. Here the questioning should be more from a value proposition perspective. This means that you put forward your suggestions and gauge what customers think about your new value proposition. There should be some kind of a clear indication from the survey results about what people want to purchase in the improved product.

The next step of surveying involves asking people what new products and services they would like to see. Obviously, you would narrow down the options to a few feasible ones for the respondents to choose from. This will then form your new, additional product range.

While the above three steps are more specific to a particular situation of a bulk email marketer or manufacturer with an online presence, the basic concept can be applied to any situation where online surveys have to be conducted.

The last and most important part of a surveying exercise lies in the results and their correct interpretation. Results as data are absolute but their interpretation can be quite subjective and perception-based. This means that they are subject to the bias of a reviewer. Avoid falling into this trap by looking at the results of a survey dispassionately even if the survey results could be foreboding the end of an entire product line. Most of the time surveys are used as preemptive tools to avoid this very situation arising.

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