Survey the Scene

When you’re in charge of a business or organization, knowledge is power. The more that you know about the people that you serve, the better equipped you’ll be to do your job.

But knowing what customers and clients want isn’t always easy. People can behave irrationally, especially when they are asked to make decisions related to their wallets, and predicting customer preferences can be very difficult.

Unless, of course, you do something radical: just ask them! Asking every customer or client individually isn’t time- or cost-effective, but creating a survey to find out more about their views can be a brilliant move. Surveys are powerful ways to take the temperature of a group.

Use online tools to make your survey

So you want to make a survey and learn all about what a group of people thinks — great! But how are you going to do it?

Back in the day, you’d have a real chore on your hands. You’d have to print up a bunch of survey forms and then find a way to distribute them, or else you’d have to work with a professional team to conduct a phone survey. Either way, the cost in terms of time and money would be alarmingly high.

Happily, we’re not living in the past. Thanks to the rise of the internet, it has never been easier to conduct a survey and analyze the results. All you have to do is find a survey maker online that you like and start creating questions.

Look for a survey maker that fits your price range (many have free and premium options) and that has the features that you need. Will you be able to direct customers to an online URL? Will you be able to link to the survey in an email newsletter? Can you control who accesses the survey?

Can you create all of the multiple-choice responses you want, add forms for free-written responses, or set up surveys with calendar dates or times? These are important questions, and you need to make sure that you think about them as you choose a survey app.

Survey wisely

As you’re setting up your great survey with an online survey maker, don’t forget to think about who you want to learn about. A survey is only as good as its sample.

In this case, “sample,” refers to the people who take the survey. If you want to know which of your ice cream shop’s flavors your customers love, you need to make sure that your survey is limited to your customers. You don’t want a bunch of people in far-flung areas voting for weird flavors and local delicacies that are not at all local to your actual shop. You need to protect your survey from online trolls, too.

And you need to make sure that you properly sample your own customer base. For example, imagine that this hypothetical ice cream shop has all kinds of customers: teenagers, families, senior citizens, and so on.

Now imagine that your survey is taken primarily by senior citizens, since they’re retired and have time to talk about their ice cream preferences. Or imagine that only teens answer, because they’re most comfortable using the survey app that you choose. If one of these things happens, you have a sampling error that will give you unreliable results.

Surveys are incredibly useful for business owners and others, and they have never been easier to set up and use. With the knowledge that you gain from a well-designed survey, you could chart a smarter path forward for your organization.

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