How to survey your customers for website feedback
Whether you are preparing to build a new website for your business or charity, or looking for ways to optimise engagement with your existing site, a customer survey is a valuable tool for getting feedback.
Before jumping into launching a survey, it is worth spending some time preparing the ground. After all, boffins write PhDs in survey design so there is more to the process than many business owners think.
This article assumes you will be creating your own customer survey or using a self-service platform like Survey Monkey.
Cleaning up your list
The more respondents you get to your survey, the more confident you can be that their answers represent your customers or service users (especially if you only have a few hundred contacts on your list).
If your email list is cluttered with outdated addresses, this will throw your figures so it's a good idea to clean up your email list.
You could start by sending out a preview email about your upcoming survey and deleting any emails that bounce back or unsubscribe.
One of the golden rules about conducting a customer survey is making sure you attach the results to a specific goal. If you are surveying customers ahead of a website project, your goal could be:
- To generate ideas ahead of a stakeholder discovery workshop
- To increase donations by improving your online donations process
- To reduce churn by improving your members' only web content
- To improve the layout of your website by assessing user experience
- To choose between colour palettes
Choosing a survey distribution software
Although there is nothing stopping you from designing your own surveys from scratch, there are a number of ready made survey tools.
As well as the ubiquitous Survey Monkey, survey and feedback tools include Hotjar and Mopinion. These enable you to design your own online feedback forms or polls and to show them to your customers while they are on your website. If you are looking for quick feedback on new website functionality, these can be an effective way to reach all of your website users.
Reaching the masses
Using visitor tracking software will either involve an API or installing a script on your website.
Depending on the tool, online forms can either be displayed statically in various places on your website or triggered by specific user events (e.g. abandoning a shopping cart, staying on a page for a pre-determined time, scrolling down half-way, etc.)
How you send your surveys out will depend on the software you use (if any). For example, SurveyMonkey lists 10 different methods of survey distribution and collection.
In most cases, emailing a survey link to your mailing list is the most cost-effective means of reaching your customers but that is not always the case.
For example, not all non-profits or small businesses have an email list. Others serve far more customers than they keep records for.
In these cases, it might be best to host your survey on your website and mail out a postcard to customers inviting them to fill it in. If you have a shop, you could copy the big retailers and include a survey invitation on customer receipts.
Telephone surveys are rarely effective due to the large number of people opting out of marketing calls. Nevertheless, this may be an option for some organisations (e.g. if you receive lots of inbound telephone orders anyway).
Tips for survey question design
Entire books have been written about survey design so it is impossible to provide a full guide in a blog article. However, here are some basic tips for producing a good quality survey:
- Make sure every question is specific and targeted. Don't ask 'Do you like the layout of the website?' Ask, 'Do you find the text on the main menu easy to read' or 'What is the one improvement you would make to the home page?'
- Don't create double-barrel questions like, 'Was making a donation quick and easy?' Split this into two separate questions.
- For more nuanced feedback, use a response scale of five, seven or even ten points.
- Balance the number of questions you ask with respect for the respondent's time.
- Add some text boxes for full explanations. This can help to pick up on contextual information that simple questions miss. Limit this to one or two questions or your survey responses will be a nightmare to analyse!
- Thank your respondents for their time and ask them to rate the survey itself.
Another golden rule of customer surveys is making sure you follow through on the results. You will have earned respect by indicating you are willing to listen and change in response to your customers' opinions but they will be annoyed if you make no attempt to act on the feedback.
Publishing the results of your website feedback and explaining how this will impact on your new website design will send a message that you are a responsive organisation that cares for the views of its members and customers.
Topic: User experience