How to Use Online Surveys to Build Customer Relationships and Conversations

Surveys used to be rather cut and dry conversation between companies and customers.  Companies ask questions, customers answer questions and that’s the end.  In fact, it wasn’t really a conversation at all.  It was more of a friendly interrogation.

But what if we could actually use surveys to create conversations?  That might be interesting.  A survey could actually inspire a conversation that goes back and forth and ultimately turns into a relationship.

How to inspire conversations around online surveys

  1. Introduce the presence of an online survey to your customers.  Maybe this sounds silly at first, but when you introduce your customers to the fact that you have an online survey and get them to experience the online survey in a fun and non-threatening way, they will be more likely to respond.
  2. Get customers to “opt-into” a conversation with you.  Create a feedback opt-in list.  This is really a low-cost way to start building a customer panel that you can go to for quick and dirty answers to questions.  You can use your standard email marketing tool to do this or try the Survey Analytics MicroPanel application that integrates surveys and panel management under one roof.
  3. Create a friendly email invitation to your survey.  If you already have a customer list, then you can easily create an email invitation that’s as personalized and customized as you’d like.  You can add the respondent’s first name as well as any number of customized fields that will allow you to pinpoint things such as what product or service they purchased or even a sales rep that they’ve worked with.  If it’s a record on your spreadsheet, you can customize it it.
  4. Add a Thank You Page.  You can create your own landing page where you can send your survey respondents after they’ve completed a survey or you can use the QuestionPro /Survey Analytics Thank You Page.  Either way – be sure to include a link where your respondents can continue the conversation with you.  The thank you page is the perfect location for a free download or the ability to register to win a prize or any creative way that you can think of to grab your respondent’s information so that you can stay in touch.
  5. Customized Thank You Email.  A really terrific idea is to send a customized thank you email to your respondents once they’ve finished the survey.  The email can also contain links to other areas where they can stay in touch with you as well as free gifts and incentives for taking the survey.

Don’t let your relationship with the respondents stop after the survey.  Give them opportunities to connect with you and engage in ongoing conversation about your products or services.

7 Ridiculously Simple Ways To Brand Your Online Survey

Some DIY Marketers will tell you that it doesn’t matter what your online survey really looks like – people will answer it and you’ll get data and that’s all that matters.  I’m not so sure.

While I wouldn’t go spending thousands on branding and customized templates just to make my survey look good.  I’d want my survey to look professional and match the branding that I have for my organization — wouldn’t you?

What does it mean to “Brand” your survey?

We all may have different definitions of what “Branding” a survey really is.  I’m going to say that “Branding” your survey means that it has a “look and feel” that is clearly defined as your brand.  If you stood 20 people against a wall and asked them who sent the survey — they would say your company name.

So what might they see that would give them the idea that it was from your company?

  1. The logo – Placing your logo in the survey gives a clear message as to which company is sponsoring the survey.  More than anything, your logo will put your respondents in a specific mindset as to how to respond to the survey.  You can easily upload your logo inside your QuestionPro or Survey Analytics platform once – and have it available to use over and over again.
  2. Slogans or taglines – A slogan or tagline can often define a brand more powerfully than the logo.  Insert your slogan or tagline in the header of your survey as a graphic or if it’s keyword rich, you can insert it as text.
  3. The colors – People quickly recognize a brand by the color combinations that you use.  You can easily use a base QuestionPro or Survey Analytics template and then create a branded header that you upload as an image.  Like a coat of paint, it’s a quick and easy way to brandify your online survey with very little effort.
  4. Typography – Fonts are another defining element of a brand.  If you’re using a unique font, be sure to show it prominently in the header art so that your brand shines through – and then use a complementary font for your questions.
  5. The tone of the questions – Brands aren’t just visual, they have a voice.  Be sure that the questions are worded in your brand’s voice.  If your brand is very professional, then it doesn’t make sense to create fun, casual questions with snarky answer options.  Likewise, if your brand is more fun and casual, you will shock your audience by using a formal voice or tone to your survey.
  6. Images and photography – Some brands use illustrations, others use photography and still others have a style to their videos.  Be sure that the design images you use define your brand while still leaving you space to use images and video in your online survey.
  7. Values and purpose – These are can often be forgotten whenever a survey opportunity comes along.  If you’re surveying your customers and they know it’s you — then be careful and mindful about the topic of your survey and see how it meshes with the values, purpose and promise that your brand stands for.  So, if your brand has clearly taken a stance or position as being environmentally conscious – you wouldn’t want to do a branded that puts that position in jeopardy.

To brand or not to brand your survey

While it might be nice to always have a branded survey, it may not always be appropriate.  There are times when you want your respondents to THINK about your brand and times you don’t.

When you customize and brand your survey, your respondent sees that brand and is instantly influenced by what they think and feel about the brand as they answer the questions.  This isn’t always a bad thing.

When doing surveys on customer satisfaction or customer experience, I want them to think about my brand and what they expect from my brand as they answer the questions.  I want them to take their expectations and overlay them on their actual experience and then give me that impression.

If, however, I’m thinking about taking on a position that’s different from what might normally be expected from my brand — for example, say my brand has taken a stand against animal testing and now I’m considering some animal testing.  It might not be a good idea to blast my brand on that survey.  I would want to know what my audience feels about animal testing without being influenced by my brand.

The bottom line is that using a DIY online research tool doesn’t have to look unprofessional.  You can create a high-end customized look to your brand with very little effort or even technical skill.

5 Creative Ways to Use Your Survey as a Lead Magnet

One of the really fantastic things about online research lately has been its ability to shape-shift from a survey that occurs as a nuisance to something that can actually serve as a lead generation tool.

Here are some creative ways to use your QuestionPro of Survey Analytics tools to generate new leads for your business.

The most important thing to do when you’re using your web site as a lead magnet is to create a landing page that uses an opt-in form.

Once your prospect enters their information into the opt-in form, they will receive a double-opt in email.  Inside of that email, include a link to your survey.

Following is a list of creative ways to use your online survey to generate leads.

  1. Create a quiz.  Why not give your web site visitors an opportunity to test their knowledge on a specific topic.  Let them take the quiz and then as a finishing option, direct them to a page on your site that has the answers written out and explained.
  2. Outline a needs assessment.  Another creative way to use your online survey tool is to create a customer needs assessment.  When your prospect fills out the form, they get forwarded to an assessment that asks them questions about their product or service needs.  After they’ve submitted their assessment, forward them to a landing page on your site where they can click to schedule an appointment with a sales person.  You can even insert a link to a calendar tool like Tungle that shows your representatives available dates and times.
  3. Personality test.  Who can resist a personality profile? If you really wanted to get creative, you could create a personality profile test by using the logic and branching features.  You’ll have to take some time to map out the logic and algorithm for how you will put people into a specific personality profile, but once you’ve got the logic worked out, you’ll be satisfied with the results.
  4. Product evaluation.  Everyone loves to give their two cents and opinion on a variety of products.  You can create a series of short surveys about a specific product and then have people opt-in to review it.
  5. Customer qualification.  It’s common practice to qualify survey respondents to make sure they match your sample requirements.  Why not do the same thing with potential leads or customers?  Ask them your top seven qualifying frustrations and when they finish the survey — send them to a page that specifically outlines the features and benefits that solve their problem.

What are some creative ways that you’ve used your QuestionPro online survey tool to generate new leads for your business?

5 Easy Ways to Attract Followers to Your Blog and Brand

In the world of ecommerce and global business it is more than likely that your website includes a blog. There is important information that is shared in your blog but is it something people are excited about reading. You want to create that blog that people wake up every morning or Monday (depending on how often you update your blog) ready to drink their coffee and see what it is that you had to say today. Follow these 5 tips to attract customers to your blog.

  1. Relate to your customer. The easiest way to get customers to hear you is to relate to them. How are you like them and how can you help them from your own learning experiences. Brainstorm and make a list of what you both like and dislike in your industry or niche. Write about how you are frustrated with “such and such” happens and how you overcame that frustration. Story-telling can be intriguing. Rope them in with your ability to relate to them through your own story.
  2.  Offer Solutions. Now that you have formed a relationship with the customer because you share the same likes and dislikes you can help them. You don’t have to be the decision-maker for them but simply offer different solutions to the problems or concerns. Even through your story you might have tried one solution and found that didn’t work and you tried another solution and found that was successful for you. You can point out that the first solution could have worked in perhaps a little bit of a different scenario.
  3. Engage your customer. It could be that in your story you didn’t find a solution or maybe you want to hear how other people find a solution and what worked for them. Ask your customer direct questions in your blog and share from one another what worked and what didn’t work. Make sure that you follow through with commenting back to your questions. If you want your customer to speak up you need to let them know that they have been heard and their opinion does matter.
  4. Get an expert. After your initial blog and you find out what people have tried. You could invite an expert in your field to help narrow the scope or explain why certain solutions work better than others. You will gain respect from your customer if they know they can go to your blog and find out the honest truths, the ins and outs and even get advice from a credible source.
  5. A Note from your CEO. The face of the company is your CEO. People value the opinion of the top dog. Have your CEO contribute to the blog on a regular basis.  If your CEO doesn’t feel comfortable writing his own content, either let him dictate the content into a digital recorder, have it transcribed and just edit it as an article.
Rather than beat your head against a wall, survey your customers as to what topics interest them most and be sure to write and address those from time to time.  Be sure to tell your readers that you are answering customer questions – this will let everyone know that you are listening to their feedback.

What Market Researchers Learn from the Honey Badger

(ATTENTION: This honey badger video has been cleaned up for safe and clean viewing)

The Badass Honey Badger has been a YouTube sensation for a while now.  It’s even gone mainstream now as a commercial.  I first heard of the honey badger video when I was having “one of those days” and a friend said to me — you need to watch the honey badger video, you’ll laugh and it will get you inspired to go out there and get the job done.

It worked.

So I thought I’d try to see what we can learn from the honey badger in the area of market research .  So here are a few attributes of the honey badger with some thoughts on how we can apply them in market research.

  • Crazy — It’s easy to get into a rut and just do the same old thing.  Why not get crazy.  Take a second look at the questions you’re asking on your survey and start brainstorming other more fun questions that might give you the information you’re looking for.  You can try using the graphic question types and include images instead of just words.
  • Fearless:  The honey badger isn’t afraid of a doggone thing.  He goes into a nest of swarming bees to get larvae and honey.  He attacks cobras.  He’s unstoppable in the face of danger.   He doesn’t sit back and ask for permission and he doesn’t wait for approval from management — he goes and gets the job done.  As researchers we can be fearless by either taking on something new, by taking a stand or by introducing our organizations to ideas or technologies they may not have considered.
  • Takes what it wants:  A recurring phrase in the video is that the honey badger takes what it wants.  To take what you want, you have to know what you want.  I wonder if we don’t take the time to really figure out what it is that we want either out of the research that we’re doing or out of the research function.  What we deliver might have changed as has the way we delivered it — but the expectations are still the same — help business make better and more profitable decisions through data.
  • Eats snakes: What’s the one thing you’ve been running away from or avoiding?  Make like the honey badger and just go after it.  Resolve it one way or the other.  Letting it hang out there clutters your mind and keeps you from going after what matters.
  • Digs:  This is something researchers are great at — digging.  While others just look at the top line, we dig deeper to get to the heart of what the research means.  There’s nothing quite like the thrill of watching the numbers tell a story – so keep digging.
  • Gets up like nothing happened – What did you think about that honey badger fighting the cobra, getting bit, napping and getting up again?  BRILLIANT.  When was the last time you went after something with gusto, attacked it, got knocked down and then went right back to it?  It’s this kind of behavior that builds experience and strength.

There’s a reason that this video has gone viral.  It speaks to something that’s inside all of us at one point or another.  Too many times we see people shy away from what they know in their hearts is right or necessary.

The honey badger doesn’t do what he does because he’s brave or smart — he’s hungry.  Why not add a little of that hungry honey badger energy to your day today.

The ABCs of Customer Satisfaction

The following is a reprint of an article that appeared on Research Access by Dana Stanley.  Read and ask yourself how YOU spell SATISFACTION Image Later this week I’ll be attending the Net Promoter Conference in San Francisco.  I’m really looking covering this event for Research Access. Customer satisfaction (or CSAT) measurement is a highly specialized, but vitally important, part of the research world. Yet I think there are many researchers and marketers who aren’t terribly familiar with the ins and outs of customer satisfaction and loyalty measurement. Here is a quick ABC guide to what you need to know about CSAT.


Satmetrix  Satmetrix, known as the Net Promoter Company, is the firm that administers the Net Promoter methodology.


ACSIThe ACSI (American Customer Satisfaction Index) is a methodology for measuring customer satisfaction.  It factors in the following variables:  customer expectations, perceived quality, perceived value, customer complaints and customer loyalty.


TrackingCustomer satisfaction and loyalty are fluid; therefore, most measurement programs involve tracking scores consistently over time.


IndicatorCustomer satisfaction is a leading indicator of business success; that’s why it’s so important to understand it and take action based on it.


SCIThe Secure Customer Index is a customer satisfaction measurement methodology developed by D. Randall Brandt.  The SCI combines three elements – overall satisfaction, likelihood to continue using the service, and likelihood to recommend.


FutureThe purpose of customer satisfaction research is to assess current attitudes toward a company in order to predict purchase behavior in the future.


Answering the Ultimate QuestionAnswering the Ultimate Question is a book by Fred Reichheld which outlines the Net Promoter methodology.


Calculating Your Net Promoter ScoreThe Net Promoter score is just what the name implies – the net of customers who are “promoters” minus those who are “detractors.”  The core Net Promoter question asks on a scale of 0 to 10 how likely a customer is to recommend the company to a colleague or friend.  The NPS is calculated by subtracting the percentage of customers who give a score of 0 through 6 (“Detractors”) from the percentage who give a score of 9 or 10 (“Promoters”).


TruthLike all research, customer satisfaction research is a search for truth.  There are different approaches, but the search for truth must continue unabated.


IndexMost customer satisfaction methodologies yield an index; a single score which is easy for an organization to understand, and, importantly, can be the basis for positive action.


Out of LuckFirms that ignore customer satisfaction altogether will soon find themselves out of luck.


Net Promoter Net Promoter is a customer satisfaction measurement methodology, developed by  Satmetrix, Bain & Company, and Fred Reichheld.  The Net Promoter Score is obtained by asking customers about their likelihood to recommend a company to a friend or colleague. You can use this link to get a discount if you’d like to join me at the Net Promoter Conference in San Francisco, February 1-3, 2012. I hope to see you there!

How to Start a Recurring Customer Feedback Program

Have you been considering doing some customer research and just not really known how to get started?  I mean you read about doing “customer satisfaction research” and how important it is, but they just leave it there — no one ever tells you how to actually implement a customer feedback program that actually gives YOU the information you need to run your business better, and your customers the opportunity to tell you what will make them happier and more loyal.

When should I start doing research?

There is no magic moment. But if you’re sitting there trying to make a business decision and you find yourself thinking FOR or ON BEHALF of your customer — that’s a good time to actually ASK them what they think.

If you’re in a meeting and your team starts saying what the customer wants — and they aren’t looking at a data set — that would be a trigger to tell you that you need research.

Market or customer research isn’t so much about knowing what your customer thinks as it is to help you make better decisions.  So every time you’re about to make a decision that is rooted in what your customer might like or not like or what action they might take — that’s the time to do some research.

How to get started

Sit down with your team and just start talking.  Come up with some of the key decisions that you’re trying to make and then dig deeper into what’s holding you back.  Chances are, it’s going to have something to do with a lack of information about what will work for your customers.  And since you aren’t asking them and you’re guessing — your project is delayed.

Generate a list of respondents.   This is not a branding survey.  That means that it won’t be blind.  You will tell your respondents EXACTLY what you are doing — You are trying to figure out what’s important to them — what matters to them so that you can improve your product or service.

Generate a list of customers who you know will give you GOOD feedback.  Good feedback means that they will tell you the good and the bad.  Create 3 segments of customers in your list:

  1. Customers you love that love you back
  2. Customers with whom you’ve hit a few bumps in the road – they aren’t satisfied
  3. Customers who are on the fence – and haven’t decided to work with you yet or haven’t decided to buy more from you even though you know they could.

Have conversations with a few customers and explore what matters to them — a.k.a. In-depth-Interviews

I started this headline with In-depth-interviews and instantly remembered that this phrase usually stopped every customer research project in its tracks.  That’s because it rang (cha-chings) in the budgets of managers.

People are afraid of in-depth-interviews because it sounds overwhelming and expensive.  The truth is they are just conversations with customers about what matters to them.  The only difference is that you are following a pre-written set of questions and asking each customer the same question — it’s more organized than a standard chit chat .

Create an online discussion guide.  QuestionPro and SurveyAnalytics have online survey tools, but you can actually use these same online surveys to document your in-depth-interviews.

Create an online discussion guide that can be taken online as well as during a phone interview.  That means make sure that the questions are conversational and create a good experience for the respondent.

Develop a list of questions that you’d like to ask:

  1. Tell me about your relationship with (company name)
  2. What triggered you to contact them?
  3. What was it about (company name) that made them an obvious choice for you?
  4. What alternatives did you consider?

Develop a list of things that might be important to your customer:  This is a fantastic benchmarking opportunity.  Include items in your list that are existing features or services that you offer and also include those items that you might consider offering.  Finally, sneak in a few items that a competitor is offering but that you aren’t to see how they value those things.

This list will drive your action items and projects, so you want to make sure that it’s concrete and easy to understand.  For example you might include “online ordering” as a feature that might be important, but that you currently don’t offer and a competitor does.  If your customers say that this is important to them — you may decide to put an online ordering system in place.

Brainstorm a long list and then choose the top 5-7 most critical items.

Generate a list of other alternatives or competitors. Create a list of other companies that your customers can purchase the same products or services from.

Use the importance/Satisfaction question style.  QuestionPro and SurveyAnalytics have a variety of question styles to choose from but I think that the Importance/Satisfaction style is one of the simplest and yet most powerful.

Insert your 5-7 attributes inside this question type.

When the respondent gets to this question, they will rate HOW IMPORTANT an attribute is to you — and then they will rate how satisfied they are with YOUR performance in that area

Ask them what other companies they purchase from.  After the attribute question, ask them who else they purchase from.  Some will say and other won’t.  You won’t know until you ask.

Repeat those same attributes from the importance/satisfaction question as a matrix.

Use the branching/Looping feature to insert the competitor’s name inside of the attribute matrix.  This will allow the respondent to rate every alternative based on the same attributes.

These ratings will actually create benchmarking data that will allow you to compare your performance against the competition AND against what’s important to your customer.  Your next new product or service can come out of this question — alone!

Give respondents a heads-up.  BEFORE you contact any respondent to do the discussion with you, send them an email or a letter (letters are taken more seriously and don’t get caught in spam) to tell them what you are up to.  Explain that someone will be calling them to schedule an interview.  Ask them to be honest and open and to share freely.  This will greatly increase your response rates and the quality of your responses.

Send an email invitation.  Next, send them an email invitation to the survey.  Inside the invitation, give respondents the opportunity to schedule time with you.  I like to use a link to my Tungle calendar – this way they can pick and choose times that work for them and schedule themselves right into my calendar.

Also offer them the option to complete the discussion online — this also increases your response rates.

Aim for at least 30 telephone completions.  Make sure you TALK TO at least 30 people.  Actually talking to people will give you significantly more insight into what really matters to them.

Then aim for another 30 online completions.

Follow this process and the results will AMAZE you!

How Does Export To Cloud Work?

In order to know how Export to Cloud works, you will first need to understand what Export to Cloud is all about. It is pretty simple. It is a tool or an option that allows you to export excel reports into your DropBox and Google Docs account.

The Export to Cloud can be accessed once you log into your account. From the main page, you can subsequently select Surveys Ø Reports Ø Export Data ØExport to Cloud. Here are the steps you will need to follow:

Exporting your survey reports to Google Docs

Step #1:

Once you select Surveys, click on the Reports tag and look through the items listed at the right side of the screen to find Export Data and click on it. Once you’ve clicked it, you’ll see three main tools listed, the “Raw Data Export”, “Charts & Analytics Export” and “Export to Cloud”. Click on the Authenticate with Google Docs button and log into your Google Doc account. If you are already signed into your Google account, this step will automatically be omitted, taking you to the next step.

Step #2:

Once you’ve logged in, you’ll be taken to an authenticating page, where you will need to click on Grant Access button at the lower left side of the screen to authenticate your account.

Step #3:

You will then be redirected back to the Export Data page, where you will then be able to click on the Export to Cloud button to post your Excel Report in your account. If you want to remove or disable the association of your Excel Report with your Google Docs accounts, you can click the Delete Association button to do so.

Exporting Your Survey Reports to DropBox

Exporting your survey reports to DropBox is pretty much the same as exporting your reports to your Google Doc account.

Step #1:

On the main Export Data page, click the Authentiate with DropBox button and log into your DropBox account.

Step #2:

Click on the Allow button from the DropBox authenticating page to authenticate your account.

Step #3:

Once you’ve been redirected to the Export Data page, you can then click on the Export to DropBox button and post your report to your DropBox account. If you want to remove or disable the association of your survey report with your DropBox account, click on the Delete Association button.

Whether you are using a Google Doc account or a DropBox account, there are certain license and Access options available with each of them. These include no long term commitments, unlimited surveys, responses, questions and advanced toolset and features.

Survey Pocket Now Available for QuestionPro and Survey Analytics Users

Are you going to a trade show or an event where you’d love to get feedback or use surveys as a lead generation tool?  Now is your chance.  The folks over at SurveyPocket are making an offer you won’t want to refuse!

Now all Survey Analytics and QuestionPro users will have access to this wonderful tool.  If you have an iPad, you will be able to use this feature for free and if you DON’T have an iPad — read on.

[Editor’s Note:  This post was originally published on the SurveyPocket blog.]

SurveyPocket is such an awesome system for mobile field data collection, that we wish any researcher could use it anytime they’d like.

However, the sad reality is that some projects require more than just a couple of tablet devices.

Not everybody has a stack of iPads laying around, waiting to be used for research.

Except us, that is.

Yup.  We’re so excited to get you rocking on your next mobile data collection project, that we went out and bought 20 iPads specifically so you can use them for your next research project.

All our iPads are pre-loaded with a copy of SurveyPocket.  And of course, we provide you support along the way.

Call us impetuous.

Call us crazy.

But whatever you do, make sure to call us to arrange to use our iPads for your next project.


Why Is It So Important To Have Customer Experience Today?

If you are one of those asking this question, just for a heads-up, we have entered “the customers’ era” – an age where the focus is all on customers, instead of other strategic imperatives. The perception of customers has an intense impact on the metrics of a business ranging from customer loyalty and brand equities to cost saving and increased revenues. This is a reality most companies are waking up to today. However, even though executives know that customers make a lot of difference they still don’t have a disciplined approach towards customer interactions. For a business to be successful, the business owners must have a serious approach towards defining, implementing and managing their customer experience.

A Customer-Centric Approach

Having a customer-centric approach is truly your best chance at having a sustainable and competitive advantage. Over the decades, companies keep making promises to customers, without really living up to their expectations in almost all channels. That is a tactic that doesn’t work anymore. Wondering why not? Well, because we are now living in an era where the success of any business imperatively depends on customers, rather than only marketing strategies.

Effects of the Customers’ Era on Businesses

Transforming goods and services into commodities has taken “differentiation” out of the picture.

Traditional boundaries of industries have been dissolved, taking the competitive market to a different dimension.

Customer opinions define the success of a business today. So, if a business gets good responses, it is sure to be a success. On the contrary, if the responses are negative, customers wouldn’t think twice before shunning the brand altogether.

Customer Experience Defines the True Value of a Business

A business executive cannot decide the customer-centricity of his/her company – it is the call of the customers in this case since they are the decisive arbiters. Whether a company is B2B, B2C or a product and service oriented, it can still influence positive customer experiences by:

Bolstering brand equities – by using the best techniques and devices to brand the company.

Acquiring the loyalty of its customers – By building a strong relationship with the customers by ensuring consistent and satisfying services.

Boosting revenues – By adopting the right business methodologies to translate customer loyalty into revenue increments periodically.

Reducing Costs – By driving down its costs to enhance customer support connections.

Customer experience is a discipline with complete tools, practices and methodologies that companies must routinely perform in order to manage customer experience. To have a methodical focus on customers, it is important that customer experience specialists work with C-level executives in order to:

Dedicate employees to customer experience – Customer experience projects don’t usually take off successfully if they are pinned to day jobs.

Allocate budgets to customer experience projects – Doubling down customer experience investments to delight customers is a promising way of ensuring successful initiatives.

Craft customer experience strategies – Having a precise customer experience strategy helps make the organization focus on spreading or distributing the right type of customer interaction strategies.

And finally, focusing on generating a great customer experience builds loyalty and positive word of mouth, which in turn build profitability.  And is there any better reason than that?