Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Poor surveys result in revenue losses

Businesses could miss out on vital data and potential revenue by conducting poor surveys, according to SPSS.

The leading provider of Predictive Analytics software has identified five ‘survey sins’ – key mistakes that many businesses need to avoid when canvassing customer opinion.

Surveys can be a great way to collect and harness customer feedback – and can lead to increased consumer satisfaction and retention, according to Heena Jethwa, Product Marketing Manager at SPSS. “But poorly designed and implemented surveys can actually do more harm than good, leaving customers bored and confused,” she advises.

The top five survey sins that SPSS identified were as follows:

1. The consumer trap

No matter how much you want your customers to tick the right box, angling questions to trick them – such as a leading question like ‘do you like this beautiful red car?’ - will only corrupt your results. Avoid emotionally-charged words like ’crisis’, ’failure’ or ‘superb’, which elicit more strongly emotional responses. Keep questions simple, clear and fair.

2. The bad, the boring and the ugly

Customers are bombarded with feedback requests. If it is dull and uninspiring, it will be overlooked. Time spent making your survey appealing can impact on the number of participants.

Content is key, but so is presentation. Include colour where possible, but no more than two, and use animations, video or sound files to make an online survey vibrant and engaging.

3. Hit and miss

Surveying customers via one method only – be it web, telephone or paper – may seem like a money-saver, but will ultimately minimise impact.

A variety of surveying methods can help to guarantee a wider demographic: the Internet grows at four to ten per cent year on year, but there are still people who prefer telephone or paper as a means of answering questions.

The wider your data collection and the more choice you give customers, the more valuable and accurate your insight can be.

4. The vague idea

Lacking in clear objectives will affect the effectiveness of your survey and ultimately produce poor results. Keep a clear goal in mind when composing your survey. Make sure you design your research so that it provides you with potential answers to your business problems.

5. Falling at the final hurdle

Confusing or poorly presented data can result in losing your overall message. Having conducted the survey, don’t ruin it by scrimping on reporting. Remember why you conducted the survey in the first place.

Clear, concise information can help to reinforce your argument. Timely results and delivering the data across the enterprise is key – feedback can impact more than one department.

Jethwa added, “It’s surprising that we still see companies making these classic mistakes.

“Given the message that a bad survey can send out, those that continue to produce sub-standard surveys should think about reviewing their strategy.

"The information that can be harnessed by surveying customers effectively can prove vital in making the right business decisions.”


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