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Simplifying Online Surveys for SMBs

Determine what your customers think about you. 

If you are an online shopping aficionado just like me, you’ll probably have your own set of favorite online stores bookmarked by now. A web site that accepts direct payments in exchange for goods and services, and renders outstanding customer service at the same time is bound to have more site revisits than its competition.

I must confess I have a natural bias towards few online stores that offer exceptional customer service, even after the goods have been delivered at my end. I often visit these stores to check what’s new and more often than not, end up giving repeat business to them.

The thing is, these stores know about their shoppers’ needs. Regular customers like me are not left second-guessing the money being spent. A store that renders complete product details including unique features, intuitive navigation and toll free 800 numbers for customer support, understands its visitors’ inside out.

This is where the Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) need to catch on. If you run an independent online store, you need to collect details on how shoppers feel about the goods and services purchased from the site. I hardly remember receiving any online surveys from SMBs, and bulk of my shopping takes place on the Internet.

The big guns in this business heavily rely on online surveys as a means to understand their customers. Rarely do I receive one from SMBs. I can’t seem to figure out why.

In my opinion, you get all kind of customers to visit your online store. On one hand, you have errant customers who had a bad shopping experience with you, while on the other, you have satisfied customers, who had a very good shopping experience with you.

By offering your customers a chance to participate in online surveys, you are initiating a dialogue with them. You are providing them a chance to tell you how they truly feel. Some stores encourage customers to comment or rate their items. Others employ dedicated review sites that host user reviews for their products. 

Online surveys, in particular, offer a lot of potential to companies to improve their goods and services. The information you can garner from such surveys is priceless.

Conducting online surveys require proper investment, both in terms of time and money. Planning is crucial here. When preparing an online survey, you needn’t only ask about your store or customer service. Your questions can revolve around new products as well. For instance, Franklin Covey ran an online survey in 2007 about its new product lines. The survey elicited a huge response from female customers.

Here are few tips that’ll help you prepare an effective online survey: 

  • Encourage shoppers to write: Leave space for shoppers to provide information. By initiating a dialogue with your customers, you’ll truly be able to understand their experience. 
  • Practice brevity on the web: Online surveys should be short and clear. If your customers are unable to complete the survey in two to three minutes, you definitely have a problem at hand. 
  • Be creative: Introduce creativity while wording the standard questions. Remember you are requesting information about your site without offering any incentive to customers. If your survey is boring or difficult to comprehend, you have failed to engage your customers, defeating the very purpose of having a survey. 
  • Send the survey post-purchase: Surveys that focus on the initial shopping experience only prove useful if the customer has received and used the product. If you introduce instant pop-ups on the invoice screen, it would go unread in all likelihood. Try shooting after 30 days, since shoppers will know about you and your product by this time.

If you choose to offer an incentive for survey, you might be able to elicit a larger response than you expected, but even such tactics has its pros and cons. Shoppers may be tempted to provide incorrect or random information. Finally, whichever strategy you choose to implement, choose wisely and drive the point home.


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