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Client Service

How to Create the Perfect Survey

By David Ackert on April, 22 2012

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David Ackert

I'm not psychic. If I were, I'd know exactly what you want to read in this weekly blog and I'd deliver it to you. This week I'll share an easy technique for eliciting market feedback so you can find out if you're meeting the needs of your clients, or if you only think you are. (As you probably know, the former tends to be more successful.)


Online surveys only take a few minutes to set up and send out. Here are some guidelines to make the survey effective and beneficial for you:

  1. Tell them how long the survey will take. There's nothing more frustrating than starting a survey, then realizing that you're only one minute into a ten-minute process.
  2. You don't have to ask them if they have any complaints. If you feel this will open Pandora's Box, skip it.
  3. Keep it short: No more than 5–10 questions. No one wants to feel like they're re-doing the SATs.
  4. Give them multiple-choice options. Clicking is easier than writing.
  5. Ask them to suggest the services they want (e.g., “Are there any additional services you wished we offered?). Their responses give you up-sell opportunities and referrals for your network.
  6. Find out if they're referral-minded (e.g., “On a scale of 1–10, how likely would you be to refer us to a friend?”). Those who give you a high score on this question are clearly open to a dialogue about how they can refer more often.
  7. Expect low returns. While warm market online surveys typically get a meager 3–12% response rate, that's still enough to give you a snapshot of what your clients want.

Once you have the data, make sure you do something with the feedback. There's nothing worse than asking people what they want and ignoring their responses. You don't want to disrespect your client community.

Authored by David Ackert

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