CRM: plan your surveys properly
Surveys and questionnaires are common ways of understanding who your customers are. But do you prepare them enough to insure optimum results and return on investment?
The golden key to most marketing strategies is to know your customers.
We have already seen a very effective technique called "buyer personas" enabling you to establish the portrait of your various customers' segments in the article "Target your customers efficiently with buyer personas".
Creating buyer personas is an important part of your CRM strategy. But in order to create those portraits you will first need to find out who your customers are, what they like, where they live, what they want, how much they spend, etc.
Several CRM techniques
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. Basically, anything that enables you to know, reach and retain a customer falls under the category "CRM". Under CRM, you find various strategies and tools that ease this process. Among them, you can find:
Member cards might be the most popular way to get to know your customers better.
The concept is simple and widely used by most shops: when your customer subscribes to your membership plan, he gets a card enabling him to get discounts, gifts, access to events, etc.
To obtain this card, your customer must first register, providing you with personal information such as name, email, address, etc.
Member cards' strategies are widely used because they work on different levels:
First of all, membership cards enable you to get basic information about your customers.
In the long term, those cards help you "keeping an eye" on your clients, recording what they buy, at what time, for which amount, in which shop, etc.
Ultimately, membership cards are efficient "customer retention plans": while providing your customers with discount you encourage them to come back and be loyal to your brand.
Contests are another efficient way to gather personal information about your customers and prospects.
To participate in your contest, people will first need to provide you with some information of your choice. This is exactly where you can get a better picture of who are your customers and potential customers.
Internet tracking also enables you to get some information about your visitors.
In an earlier article called "Making sure your emails are read by your customers: the era of mobile internet", I was explaining why it could be important to monitor who visits your website or read your emails.
An efficient tracking of your internet page would not give you personal information about a specific customer but would inform you of global trends among your visitors, such as which device they use to visit your site, where they come from or which page they prefer.
Surveys are the ultimate way to gather information.
Information is usually more difficult to get but more reliable when received through surveys. The reason is that people usually tend to "tell you what you want to hear" when they have a chance to win something. If it is just about providing information without any reward, people are more reluctant to participate but those who accept usually share their real information and thoughts.
The main challenge with surveys is to be able to plan them efficiently and proactively.
Planning and constructing a survey
In the past few years, I have answered, prepared, organized and even written some surveys.
There is one thing I have noticed among the "survey lovers": they usually don't have the slightest idea about what to do with the data once gathered.
Preparing a survey is such a hassle (prepare the questions and answers, build the database that will host the results, prepare the reports format to extract the survey's data, convincing people to complete the survey, dealing with 'open questions', etc.) that it would a shame not to get the best out of it!
Why do you want to use a survey?
When people stop you in the street to ask you a few questions you usually have neither the time nor the mood to answer them. If you agree to offer some of your time, you will certainly wonder "why does he ask me this? What does he expect to do with this answer? How will it be used?".
Now that you are the survey creator, it would be smart to start with the exact same question: what do you expect from this survey? Why are you taking so much time to build a survey? What do you want to extract from it?
Have you thought about your ROI?
Usually, surveys are created either to confirm an assumption (75% of the people reading this blog are aged 20 to 40) or to fill a blank (what is the percentage of my blog's readers that love French fries?).
Either of those reasons requires the same amount of work preparing the survey. Would you spend this large amount of time creating an advertising campaign without knowing if it would generate sales?
There is a holy principle in marketing: the ROI (Return On Investment).
Basically, whatever you do, whatever strategy or action plan you create should generate a revenue (that can be on the long term, not necessarily immediately) of higher value than its cost.
Estimating the value of the information collected isn't an easy task, and you might not even be able to evaluate it in terms of dollars. However, the best way to make sure you are not wasting time or money with your strategy is to have a clear plan on what to do with the data BEFORE collecting it.
The right way to do
Many companies think that "it would be interesting to know..." without thinking about a concrete use for such information. You must think the other way round: "what do I need to know to achieve my goals?".
For example, you are selling tea in a rural area. You are about to launch a new product - a very bitter tea. The problem is: you do not know the taste of your customers. You know that, until now, your "medium bitter" range is working better than your "sweet range", but can you extrapolate and consider that your new "bitter range" would be a success?
Instead, you might want to prepare a survey to ask your customers (and prospects, as you might open a new market with this product!) what are their tastes.
Now, you know your purpose, then focus on it!
There is no reason to ask questions such as "Do you like coffee?" or "Do you have a dog at home?". Even though this data might also become handy at some point (it is always good to know a lot about your customers), this is not your point today. Adding questions without having a plan on how to exploit them just makes your work heavier, the survey longer and the chances of having people answering it lower.
Some more tips
- Use closed questions as much as possible. Closed questions are easy to process, to build graphs and to estimate trends. Open questions are more of a headache: they need to be treated individually and their interpretation is subjective.
- Prepare carefully your database prior to the survey's launch. Make sure you know what support to use (it can be paper, excel, MySQL, Sphinx, etc.) as it will greatly influence the way your extract data and extrapolate results and strategies.
- Prepare in advance all the elements you expect to get from this survey. If what you want is to know the ratio of people who love bitter tea among tea lovers, check which questions will bring you information on this specific topic and plan ahead how to extract it. If you are not happy with the result you will get, rework your questionnaire.
- Simplify your questionnaire: any question that does not bring specific value or that has not direct usage should be eliminated.
Launch your survey
You are now ready to launch your survey. Whether it is an online one, a street poll or a post-purchase survey, make sure to inform and thank people properly. They should know why you ask them those questions and what you will do with their answers.
Once all data collected, save it, extract graphs and reports as per your planning and draw necessary conclusions to improve your business. That is the only solution for making a survey useful and profitable.
Once your survey strategy adapted to your needs, it might be time to apply it for more practical purposes. I suggest you to read my article "The importance of a good customer service" and "The mismanagement of customers loyalty" that help you going further in terms of CRM (Customer Relationship Management).
Last update: 2017-10-19 Tags: CRM customer survey questionnaire planning poll Customer Relationship Management customer relationship