After Your Survey Ends: Acting on Survey Data

February 2, 2016

The ultimate goal of running any survey is to collect enough reliable data to be able to take some kind of action.

Maybe you want to launch a new product, determine your customer satisfaction levels, or get insight into employee happiness. Whatever the reason you launched your survey in the first place, the project isn’t over until you do something about what you learned.

To make sure that your project creates action, you should take these three steps:

  1. Monitor
  2. Get Feedback on the Study
  3. Publish and Share Results

Monitoring Actions

If you created an action plan prior to launching your survey and got stakeholder buy-in, acting on the data shouldn’t be an issue. But you can’t assume that everyone will automatically start acting on your results, no matter how well they’re presented.

You may need to motivate stakeholders to implement changes based on the results.

It can be helpful to establish a reasonable timeframe in which actionable results (positive or negative) can be expected. A little bit of urgency can often go a long way.

Assign actions to individuals and set due dates and an order in which to complete the tasks.

Involving Yourself in Actions

This is where the metrics from the reporting phase come into play. You should know them backwards and forwards and be able to provide insight to anyone who asks.

Invite yourself to meetings, offer yourself as a resource to stakeholders and creative teams as someone with a deep understanding of the data. Just make sure you set aside time to actually follow through on these offers of expertise and help.

If you are an invaluable resource, you don’t want to create barriers to people accessing the great survey data that you compiled by not delivering on your promises.

Measuring Actions

Note when the changes that your survey data suggested were implemented, and start measuring results. What impacts have the changes made? Keeping a careful eye on this data will help you justify any expenses associated with your survey and give you a strong case for its success.

For instance:

  • Has shipping time improved?
  • Are customers more satisfied?
  • Has revenue increased?

Getting Feedback on Your Survey Project

It’s easy to assume that people will come forward and offer you their feedback on your survey, but this isn’t always the case. Fortunately you’re likely an expert on surveys by now, so you can create an easy way to gather input.

Simply create a short survey that goes out to all stakeholders in order to get their input on the effectiveness of the study.

Ask for any suggestions they may have so that you can work better together in the next study and improve the process. Be sure to include open text fields so you can give people the opportunity to voice their unfiltered opinions.

Whatever type of response you get, try your best to remember that it’s about the project and not a reflection on you personally. Sometimes a project encounters hurdles that couldn’t be foreseen or avoided, and that will color the feedback that you get.

Where possible incorporate people’s feedback into future projects; it reflects well on your ability to listen to your teammates and colleagues, and it could lead to an even more successful project next time.

Providing a Final Overview of Your Survey

To finish off a project it can be useful to pull together an overview of all your data, the final return on investment information, and how you’ll be incorporating the group’s feedback into your next survey project.

Don’t go into too much detail in the reports that you include here; those should have come to stakeholders early on in the reporting phase. Instead give high level overviews and tie them to the benefits you’ve been tracking since the survey was acted on.

Be sure to be accurate in how you present your data, but there’s no harm in focusing on the positive outcomes that came from the project and suggesting any ideas for future research that came up during your survey.

Getting Started on Your Next Project

If you had any interesting and unexpected results come up during your data analysis, they can be a great place to look for future survey topics.

If you ran a customer satisfaction or employee happiness study, you should plan to repeat the survey at regular intervals so you can track changes over time.

Finally, repeating a survey with a slightly different audience can often be a fascinating study in how demographics impact responses. This type of survey can be particularly insightful if you’re curious about how different segments of your audience feel about your product, brand, or service.

Whatever the path you choose, make sure to start right back at the beginning of great survey design and identify goals and objectives before you start!

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