Customer Surveys that Inform and Enlighten

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Customer surveys can be a great way to improve your ecommerce website. After all, unlike a traditional small business owner you do not interact with your shoppers on a daily basis. However, the only way to get the right kind of feedback is to design your survey carefully. Here are a few tips for getting the most from this important consumer insight tool.

  • Define your goals. What do you want to learn from the survey? What parts of your e-commerce website are likely to be affected by survey results? You need to focus on information that can be used to improve your customer experience. If something is out of your control, for example, or simply not up for change, don’t bother asking about it.
  • Prioritize. Some things will be more important than others. For example, you might be planning a website redesign and need feedback in that area more than in others. Consider carefully how you will use the information. 
  • Plan for credibility. You need to have a way of collecting data that is credible and accurate. If you have not taken a course in statistics, you may want to hire a consultant for this step of survey planning.
  • Consider the audience. The type of information that you need will determine who your audience includes. If you want marketing information, you may want to offer the survey to members of your email list, registered customers, Facebook fans or other select groups. If you need more general information regarding the shopping experience, a follow-up survey for customers is probably the right choice. If you want to lower your bounce rate, an exit survey could be the answer.
  • Execute the survey. There are many ways of accomplishing this; some ecommerce websites opt to handle it themselves (a difficult task, by the way) while others hire a survey firm to do the footwork.
  • Keep it short and sweet. Not only will long surveys decrease the completion rate, they may lead to inaccurate responses. Customers get tired of answering questions and begin flying through the questions without thought. Similarly, the survey should be designed so that it is easy to complete, with multiple choice questions rather than typed answers. You can always leave a blank at the end for miscellaneous feedback, but make most of the survey as easy as possible.
  • Follow up if necessary. If an unusually unfortunate incident is related through a survey, you may want to follow up with the customer and rectify the situation. People often are reluctant to bring their complaints to you, but you can bet they are telling everyone that they know about their unpleasant experience with your ecommerce website.
  • Use the information wisely. It is unfortunate, but many ecommerce website owners will spend a lot of time in planning and executing a survey only to ignore the results. Sometimes the truth hurts, but that does not make it less true. 

A survey can be an important tool because it allows you to get honest information from the people who are most important in the success of your website—your customers!