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Do You Know What They Think? Use Surveys to Improve Results!

Do You Know What They Think? Use Surveys to Improve Results!

Surveys can be a very useful tool, whether it’s external customer service, internal service or opinions from stakeholders. The only way you can manage effectively is by having information on which to make decisions and improve results. Surveys are an effective way to get feedback you may not otherwise receive. Like everything, It’s important to do it right.

Question Development

The most important step, this includes develop the right surveys (i.e. general satisfaction, transaction, etc.) along with the questions to ask and the right way to ask them. This means understanding your goals for the survey - why you are asking the question and what you will do with the answer before you even ask.

It involves asking neutral questions about things you can impact, for instance, and not asking questions that are not relevant or you have no control over. Also, the scale is important. For instance, I prefer a 1-4 scale rather than a 1-5 scale – you don’t want them to be able to pick the middle – you want their opinion, either way. Also, you want to get their comments. These can sometimes be more illuminating than their ratings. Rather than asking general open questions, I prefer closed, specific questions – again, information you can do something with.

Survey Administration

This is easy to do over the web, using one of the available survey tools, but could be paper based – depending on who your target audience is and your logistics. Online tools are great for situations where web based surveys or invitations by email will work, however if you are doing a paper based survey, transaction surveys, or leaving a card behind after a service call, for instance, then web based surveys may not work. How you distribute your survey and how much it costs depends a lot on the logistics. You may even have to do a combination of paper and web based, depending on who you are surveying. If you use a combination, enter responses from the paper based survey directly into the survey tool or database so you have consolidated information.

Survey Analysis

Once the results are in a database you have to analyze the results and work with your team to create workable action plans to make changes as well as communicate back to the people surveyed. This is why the questions are so important – you need information you can use to make decisions and changes. This includes graphs, comparisons year over year or between certain categories of responders and interpretation .It should also include facilitated sessions with your team (and even possibly with a sample of the people you survey) to dig deeper and figure out why the results are what they are and what can be done to change and improve.


After you finish the analysis and develop an action plan, you need to communicate back to the people you surveyed. Let them know what the results were, even the results you didn’t like, and what you are doing about them. Then, be sure to make it obvious when you implement changes and improvements, so they see that you do what you tell them you will do.

In my experience, you will get the best results if you take a strategic approach to what you ask and the details you try to find out about. For instance, some questions could relate to specifics about service delivery and general satisfaction that you can use to make improvements while other questions could be more general and used by your marketing folks to promote how satisfied your customers are.

Here is a list of online survey tools you can start with:

Key Survey

About Michel Theriault

Michel is the founder of Success Fuel for Managers. He is an author, speaker and consultant focusing on topics relevant to Managers and aspiring Managers in businesses of all sizes who want to get results, get attention, and get ahead. He is also a contributor to Forbes and AllBusiness Experts . Michel is available for speaking engagements, training and consulting. Connect with him or send an email.

Posted in: Strategy & Planning

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