Using Customer Surveys to Improve Business

Businesses can use surveys to better understand their target markets. All industries collect data from multiple sources to help increase sales, improve operations, reduce costs and uncover product-development opportunities. Surveys are a great tool for collecting information from both customers and employees, as well as for learning what your customers think about your business. Here are five benefits of conducting customer surveys:

  • Gain valuable feedback. More important than knowing what a customer is thinking is why they’re thinking it and what that means for your business. Often, customer surveys highlight areas for growth that business owners weren’t previously aware of, in addition to signaling what a business does well already.
  • Understand your customers’ perspectives. Every customer is unique, meaning their buying journeys offer businesses opportunities to craft positive experiences. By asking a range of specific questions, you can gather a comprehensive look at how positively or negatively customers view their interactions with your business.
  • Identify patterns. After multiple iterations of analyzing customer survey results, you should be able to identify patterns in the responses. Use these patterns to inform future decision making. Additionally, these patterns can inform your customer communication strategies.
  • Help determine your priorities. By identifying patterns in the feedback received, your business goals and priorities may shift based on how customers perceive your brand. Ratings-based questions help identify areas of opportunity. If one segment of your business gets a consistently low score, it’s safe to assume there’s room for growth there.
  • Retain customers. Besides the fact that keeping customers happy means they can become loyal to your brand, customers love to know their feedback was valued, and even more so, implemented.

In an era where 93% of customers read online reviews before taking action, it’s never been more important to ask your customers how you can enhance their experience with your business. There are two prominent types of survey techniques: Questionnaires, which are comprised of a list of questions respondents can answer individually, and interviews, which involve asking a respondent a series of questions and following up with additional questions based on their answers.

There are several types of surveys that can be administered using these techniques, which can help businesses understand their customers better. Some of the more popular customer survey types used by businesses are:

  • Market research surveys. A market research survey allows you to gather information about your market, such as how and where your products are purchased, your customers’ needs, your level of competitive positioning within an industry and your customers’ demographics.
  • Lead generation surveys. A lead generation survey allows you to gather contact information and some preferences from your target audience. It also permits you to assemble a list of prospects who might be interested in purchasing the product or service you offer.
  • Brand awareness surveys. A brand awareness survey enables you to determine how well your customers know your brand, the meaning of your name and logo and what your brand stands for.
  • Customer satisfaction surveys. A customer satisfaction survey enables you to measure your customers’ satisfaction with your company and your products or services. It can also help you increase sales.
  • Net promoter score surveys. Satisfied customers will break your heart if something better comes along. A net promoter score, or NPS, gets at two key insights that help you determine the strength of your customer relationships. An NPS survey tells you whether or not your customers plan to stay with you and if they're willing to refer you to others.

Businesses can also glean valuable information from their employees via surveys. Commonly used employee survey types include:

  • Employee satisfaction surveys. An employee satisfaction survey enables you to determine whether employees are satisfied with the work environment. It involves asking employees for feedback on different parts of the job and allowing them to list concerns or frustrations with the company.
  • Training evaluation surveys. A training evaluation survey enables your employees to provide feedback and opinions on company training programs. The survey can ask about the quality of the training content, how relevant it is to their role and how well the instructor did.
  • Exit interview surveys. An exit interview survey enables you to find out why employees choose to leave the company. Identifying the reason for a departure tells you for certain why someone left, which will help you determine areas for improvement and further development of employee-retention strategies.

There are many types of surveys that companies can use to achieve a variety of business goals. Which of these are right for your business?