Create more loyal customers by designing surveys people actually want to complete.
Many product managers and product marketers are using surveys incorrectly. We like surveys because they are relatively quick and inexpensive compared to other tools, such as customer interviews.
While they can help us confirm what we think are the needs of customers and provide customer experience information, they are not something most customers look forward to participating in.
My guest has a different experience. He creates surveys that not only have insanely high response rates but that actually create more loyal customers. Imagine that–surveys as a tool to make loyal customers.
He is Matt Champagne, researcher, university professor, author, serial entrepreneur, and most importantly a survey and feedback expert. He has implemented systems in more than 600 organizations to drastically improve customer retention, learning, and performance.
We discuss his 9 Principles of Customer Feedback. Get Matt’s infographic that helps to explain the system.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:15] Why do we survey customers?
We all know that we should survey our customers and organizations create surveys all the time. We need to learn from our customers, but 98 percent of surveys are done incorrectly because they’re not structured the right way and are not asking the right questions. Survey tools are made to get people to take more surveys so they don’t create surveys correctly. If you’re the one who created the survey, you rarely see the problems, but when someone else looks at it, they’ll see it right away.
[8:07] What’s your framework for collecting customer feedback?
My framework is called the 9 Principles of Customer Feedback and it’s based on about 6 million data points over the past 25 years. The principles come from psychology and focus on how to get the highest response rate, the most meaningful results, and the most loyal customers. If you satisfy the principles in your survey, those outcomes will follow. People will take your surveys again and again without getting survey fatigue.
[9:58] How do you use surveys to create more loyal customers?
Everyone thinks people hate surveys, but it’s the only instrument we have to get into people’s minds to understand what they want and expect. If you design great questions and give people the right rewards for getting involved, people will feel like they have a stake in the organization and that their voice matters. We want our customers to stay and they want to stay, but they move on because we don’t ask them the right questions in the right way at the right time.
[12:44] Principle: Timing and frequency
We never ask the questions when it matters. We tend to ask surveys at the end of an event, meal, etc. This is called the autopsy approach. Asking the questions while the event is still going on will elicit more meaningful responses because it lets people know that something can be changed based on their feedback. A good server in a restaurant will ask how the meal is going and then make adjustments based on the feedback. Good surveys scale that same behavior.
[15:54] Principle: Closing the loop
Following up with the people who gave you feedback is so critical, but it’s rarely done. People want to know that their voice was heard, how it made a difference, and how others responded.
[18:13] Principle: Internal incentives
This means understanding what motivates people to answer your questions. People often think this is a giveaway or something similar. Closing the loop is more of an incentive than any monetary gift or handout. You are giving people something they couldn’t get anywhere else about the product and people’s experience. People also like the ability to pick their completion gift, and that gives you the opportunity to find out what they like best.
[20:54] Principle: The why
Nearly every survey has a statement about the purpose of collecting feedback, but then add in questions that have nothing to do with that purpose. People bail on surveys when they start to see those questions that don’t matter. Instead of cramming everything into one survey, ask a few questions that relate to the purpose, close the loop, and then ask more questions from there.
[23:28] Principle: Precise content
I started addressing how to write good survey questions and it turned into a book. It’s based on the 25 most common survey errors I’ve seen. People stop filling out surveys when they feel like you are wasting their time asking questions that already have answers or should have answers. A good example of this is asking for name and email when you already have it.
[25:54] Principle: Training respondents
We assume that everyone will give good feedback, and people don’t. If you have an open-ended question, you’re opening yourself up for whatever rants people want to provide, which might not be things you can act on. You need to train your customers to give you the feedback you are looking for. Never ask an open-ended question and always be as specific as possible. Give people guidance on what areas of your product to focus on. For example, instead of asking if people have any comments about what you can improve, ask for input on what you can improve about a specific aspect of your product or service.
- Matt’s infographic — The 9 Principles of Customer Feedback
- Matt’s website to learn about the psychology to keep customers forever
- The Survey Playbook
“Always make your future bigger than your past” – Dan Sullivan
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