Keeping customers happy should be at the heart of every business plan – but businesses don’t operate like they used to. Fifty years ago, good customer service was a matter of making sure that the staff member with the biggest smile and the best manner was on the shop floor. However, now that so much of a customer’s experience can depend on their interaction with an online interface, or how they receive their goods through the post, it is even more important that you gain insight into the parts of your service that you or your staff are not there for.
Think about yourself as a customer: remember a time when you have been really happy with your interaction, and another time where you have been seriously frustrated. Now think about what you did next, whether you recommended the business and returned, or wrote an angry review and dissuaded others from using their services. Customers are presented with those two possible pathways when they engage with your services every day – and you know which you want for your own business!
That’s why there has been an explosion of customer survey tools in recent years, and why it is essential that you begin to gather data on your customers’ thoughts and feelings if you haven’t already. Not only do your customers hold insight into so many ways you can improve your business, but just the process of asking them what they think will positively impact their perception of you: customers who are asked what they think about a company are 49% more likely to report feeling valued than those who are not asked. That’s already a huge impact without interrogating any of the new information you’ll have at hand.
There are a number of different options out there, some better known than others, so take a look and see how they can help you measurably improve and grow your business.
SurveyMonkey is a well-known survey tool that’s been in the market place since 1999. The close-ended platform has approximately 20 million active users and facilitates feedback for around 345,000 organisations. It is one of the major players out there and public awareness of its services are high.
Customers can sign up to a premium service – which you can only pay for in annual lump sums – or the free service, which has more limited options and less customer service support. The free service caps each survey to ten questions and, although you can collect as many responses as you like, you will only be able to view 40 of them. It’s worth noting that any responses over the viewing limit will be deleted after 60 days, so you can’t put off upgrading forever.
Multiple templates, which are available under the free as well as premium service, make SurveyMonkey easy to use. YouTube also hosts a wide array of instructional videos that can support less confident users to maximise the features of the product.
Google Forms is a part of the increasing suite of Google tools available to businesses to improve online performance. It is straightforward to set up and fairly self-explanatory to use. It only takes a minute to navigate around the main features and first-time users will find it easy to understand the way data is represented.
The only thing that you need to get started is a Google account – but make sure your Forms are assigned to the correct address, otherwise you might find a survey set up for work feeds in through your personal email.
As you would expect, Forms dovetails well with other Google products. Although it is one of the most budget-friendly survey tools out there, Forms integrates easily with email, social media and websites. The downside is that the look and feel of the Form can appear quite spartan. There are some options to customise, but these are basic compared to some of the other products out there. As a result, it is less professional looking and it isn’t the best way to reinforce your company branding.
Feefo is a close-ended customer survey and review tool which only verified customers can feed into, meaning that your business is protected from fake reviews and the damage they can cause to your reputation. Not only does this mean that your organisation gets authentic insight into the real issues that your customers care about, but Feefo’s tech is designed especially for search engine optimisation. This means that a merchant or service provider’s review page can be automatically updated and fed through to Google to increase visibility and star ratings.
For the customer filling in the survey, Feefo provides an extremely straightforward user journey, starting with a basic star rating that they can input straight into the form in their email. This first step rates their overall experience and acts as a feedback “taster”. Even if there is some attrition as customers are taken to the next stage, that initial data has been captured.
One thing that Feefo emphasises is the importance of responding to customer feedback, and their qualitative data capture is designed to make this extremely easy to do. Product performance analysis is also a strength of Feefo’s service, enabling different items to be compared in terms of consumer feedback as well as sales. Deceptively simple, Feefo makes the process of data capture streamlined for the consumer, but maximises the capacity of its analytics to the benefit of the vendor.
Alchemer has been running since 2006 and used to be known as Survey Gizmo. Its name and branding changed in 2020, with the logic behind it reflecting a change in the key aims of its product range. No longer wanting just to be known for simple surveys, the name points towards the transformative (or alchemical) potential of customer feedback.
Alchemer is designed for more serious users, with the free provision being limited to three free surveys with only thirty responses each. The free service is clearly meant to be used on a trial basis, before investing in a paid-for package of services.
If you have spent any time looking up the best survey tools that could help your business, you will have read about the pros and cons of a survey tool’s “logic”. For the benefit of survey beginners, this means the ability of a survey tool to deal with conditional questions and responses. For example, a vacuum cleaner company might ask:
Q4. Do you have a pet?
If yes, then the following question might be:
Q5. What type of pet do you have?
A series of questions about pets might then follow. If no, then a separate progression of questions would be displayed instead.
Survey Junkie is one of the more controversial tools on the list when compared to others. Instead of providing the platform for the survey itself, it is a third-party organisation that incentivises participation by offering small cash or voucher sums for every survey that is filled in.
On the surface of things, it sounds like this wouldn’t be the most reliable way to gain insight into customer experience, but it is actually reviewed very well on Trustpilot and increasing numbers of businesses are incentivising people to engage in their feedback programmes.
Feedback tends to be accurate and relevant because the cash benefits for completing each survey are relatively small, so the individuals who complete them are self-selecting. While the money or voucher credit ‘survey junkies’ receive does build up over time, the amount per survey just isn’t enough to engage people with no interest in completing surveys.
SnapSurveys has been around longer than any of the other survey tools on the list. Operating since 1981, SnapSurveys is celebrating its 40th birthday incorporating consumer feedback into organisational strategy this year. With a customer base firmly rooted in the public, charity and educational sectors, SnapSurveys specialises in supporting organisations to use feedback to improve services.
Alongside providing the tech that characterises the majority of the customer feedback industry, SnapSurvey also offers a consultancy service for those who want to learn the skills of designing, processing and acting on customer feedback opportunities.
SnapSurvey is one of the more brandable options out there – with surveys really looking and feeling like they have been designed from scratch by the organisation they originate from. One of the more unusual features that they offer is offline data capture that uploads automatically when an internet connection is made. They even have a paper survey processing service.
Collecting all this data on the customer experience is not an end in itself however – it’s important not to lose sight of why this feedback is important. The data is only as useful in so far as it provides insight into what an organisation needs to improve or change. Customer or user feedback must be prioritised when strategic decisions are made about operations and services – otherwise the potential benefits will be lost.