Survey Says! How to Effectively Survey Your Customers

Raise your hand if you love taking surveys.

Your customers feel the exact same way.

Like you, your customers probably aren’t eager to spend the next 10 minutes of their lives trapped in a satisfaction rating loop. Surveys require participants to drop everything and get in touch with their emotions. And sometimes, they don’t want to think about how they feel or they simply have no incentive to do so. This is why most surveys fail to engage or give businesses the feedback that they need.

However, your survey will be different. By implementing the below tips, you’ll create an effective survey that gets you what you need so that you can create a better product and experience for your customers. Let’s jump right in.

Attach a Goal to Your Survey

What do you want to learn from your customers and why?

Understanding your goals is crucial to creating an effective survey. Otherwise, you’ll ask the wrong questions (or the wrong people) and end up with answers that don’t serve your needs.

Create a simple, one-sentence summary of what you hope to accomplish with the answers to your survey. Here’s a fill-in-the-blank template:

I want to learn _________ so that I can _________.

Here’s an example: I want to learn how people found out about our product so that I can focus my marketing efforts.

Offer an Incentive

If you’re asking your customers to give you something of value (i.e. their thoughts and insight), you’ve got to give them something that they value, too. After all, time is money, and very few folks are chomping at the bit to participate in surveys or even leave product reviews. Research shows that the group most likely to offer feedback/leave reviews are the people who are actually dissatisfied with your product.

You don’t actually need to offer them an incentive— they do it willingly. In fact, they’ll likely search you out before you send out a survey.

However, if you want balanced feedback on your product, you need to hear from all of your customers— those who’ve had positive experiences and those who’ve had negative experiences. Together, they can help you see what works, and what doesn’t.

But to get those happy-but-silent customers to start talking, you’ve got to start flashing some incentives.

Here is a list of 20 survey incentives that you can offer to your SaaS customers.

Don’t Ask Too Many Questions

The most effective surveys are short and to the point. Unless your incentive is fire, no one wants to answer a 100-question survey. Keep your survey to 10 questions or less for maximum buy-in.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

Survey your SaaS Customers

Multiple choice, ratings, and yes/no answers are fine for simple surveys, however, if you want to dig deep, ask an open-ended question. These types of questions prompt the participant to thoughtfully engage with your survey.

Plus, these answers offer incredible insight into the customer’s thinking.

For example, you can learn a lot about your product based on how the customer describes it. Then, you can take those same words and turn them into keyword phrases to attract new prospects.

However, don’t create a survey that only asks open-ended questions. That’s intimidating and will likely decrease participation. Instead, ask a combination of open-ended, close-ended, multiple-choice, scaled, and/or matrix questions to keep the survey easy and interesting.

Make it Fun and Easy

Your survey should be fun and easy to participate in. If your customer has to jump through hoops to give you the answers, they’re not going to do it— no matter how wonderful the incentive.

While surveys are intrusive by nature, there are ways to make them enjoyable and even seamless.

For example, you can inject humor into your surveys and make your participants laugh all the way through.

Or you can gamify your surveys to make participation fun or even competitive. Game strategies could be as simple as adding a progress bar to your survey, or as complex as awarding badges to participants who finish multiple surveys and allowing those badges to be “cashed in” for a reward.

Don’t Require a Response for Every Question

It would be a mistake to require a response to every question because some questions don’t apply to some participants. What happens if you do? One of two things: Either the participant will mark an incorrect answer just to get through the survey or abandon the survey altogether out of frustration. Neither of those options are good for you because they won’t offer you the truth.

Instead, include a “does not apply” option in your questions or simply switch off the required option for every question. This allows participants to skip questions that are irrelevant to them. Remember that any honest answer on a survey is better than not having answers to your survey at all.

Ask Surveys at Different Times

The most obvious time to ask for your customer’s feedback is after they’ve purchased a product and had a chance to try it out. However, that’s not the only time to invite them to take a survey.

Do you prompt for surveys at different times along your customer’s journey?

Most businesses have customers spread out at four different points in their customer journey. Some customers haven’t actually become customers yet. They’re leads. Then, there’s new customers, loyal customers, and exiting customers.

You can create surveys for each of these four groups so that you get a better understanding of how customers view your products, what they’re looking for from a SaaS, and how well you deliver.

Ask each segment different questions that align with where they are on their journey and how much they’re likely to know about your product.

Here are a few examples of when you can ask your customers to participate in a survey:

  • In the middle of a trial (Before they become a customer)
  • At the end of a trial (Before they become a customer)
  • After purchase
  • During customer onboarding
  • After being a customer for a month
  • After resolving a problem for the customer
  • When it’s time to renew a subscription (i.e. annually)

Of course, you won’t ask the same questions of a trial user as you would of a customer who’s already purchased your product. Vary the types of questions that you ask based on where the customer is during their journey.

Offer Surveys in Multiple Places

In addition to when you prompt for a survey, switch up where you prompt for surveys. Here are a few places to consider placing a survey invite:

  • On your website
  • In your app
  • In your email newsletter
  • On social media
  • Via text message
  • On a one-on-one phone call
  • In a chat room
  • On your email signatures (attached to the bottom of all outgoing customer service/support emails)

Make it Mobile Friendly

Survey your SaaS Customers

Did you know that most surveys are taken on mobile devices? If your surveys don’t look good or function well on mobile devices, you’re asking for low participation numbers.

Be sure that the survey tool you use will look good on smaller screens. Test it yourself to work out any issues before sending the survey invitation to your customers.

A/B Test Your Surveys

You can optimize your surveys and increase participation in future surveys by performing A/B tests.

Here are a few ways to test your surveys:

  • Send at different days of the week
  • Send at different times of day
  • Choose different descriptions of your survey
  • Vary the number of questions that you ask
  • Change the questions that you ask
  • Change your incentives
  • Change where you ask (email vs in-app vs text)
  • Change who you ask
  • Change the design of your survey

Take Action

Surveys aren’t just “what you do.” Surveys are what help you grow as a business. They provide invaluable insight into what your customers expect from you and their experience with you so far.

Once you know their thoughts and feelings, it’s time to leap into action. Take the survey results to your team so that you can create a stronger product and customer experience for the future.

Final Thoughts

Surveys are a great way to get a different perspective on your product, service, and customer experience. However, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do surveys. Use the above tips to ensure that your surveys tick the right boxes.

Also, remember that every answered survey is a gift. Be sure to thank your participants.

Before you go, check out these related posts:

Don’t forget to download this list of 20 survey incentives for SaaS customers.
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