Why Your Online Questionnaire Is Like a Date

May 26, 2015


You and your co workers have decided to send out an online questionnaire to your customers. That’s good! You’ve taken your first step in to a larger world!

Before you get carried away about the dozens of questions you want to ask stop and pause for a moment.

Remember of all the time effort, tears, research, and hard work that went in to building a successful brand and customer base. Don’t let that fall to the wayside in the name of getting your survey up and running as fast as possible.

Your relationships with your customers deserve the same mindfulness and maintenance as a relationship with a close friend or significant other.

Give Customers a Good Reason to Answer Your Questions

You want to ask a million questions so you can improve your product. Sure, it helps you, but what’s in it for the customer? When asking for their money you propose value as much and as often possible. Your questionnaire should do the same.

Are you offering an incentive? This incentive is a promise you need to keep and should be done so as soon as possible, preferably immediately. If the questionnaire is intended to make their experience better, then make sure you do so ASAP.

Don’t Take Customer Relationships for Granted

In our personal relationships there are certain methods and strategies we use when asking serious questions, and we should use the same care when asking questions to our customers.

Let’s say you’ve been seeing someone for a while and you want to get serious. It’s time to change statuses on Facebook and ‘be official’ or ‘go steady.’ Assuming that you are ‘official’ because you spend lots of time together is just setting yourself up for disappointment.

How many recently dumped people have been caught off guard? They say things like, “But things were going so well…” or “This came out of nowhere!”

How many businesses have said similar things to their board of investors?

One day business could be booming and growth could be off the charts. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, things crash.

Don’t get caught by surprise when customers dump you. Better yet, don’t let them dump you. Intervene before that happens. It’s never fun or easy, but sometimes you need to “talk about us.” It may put you in a vulnerable and uncomfortable position, but it’s infinitely preferable to coming home and to a “Dear John letter.”

Ask Timely and Relevant Questions

It takes courage to ask tough questions, either from your significant other or from your customers. So when the time comes you’ve got to ask in the right way.

For example, would you disrupt your naturally pleasant conversation in the middle of dinner to ask questions like these?

“Do you like me? If yes, how much”

“On a scale of 1-5, how well is this date going?”

“Will you go on another date with me after this one?”

If you would, then you may need to reconsider your interpersonal communication strategy. Clearly you’re eager for feedback, but you need to ask thoughtful questions with finesse.

If a new customer is using your product for the first time, let them use it. Don’t interrupt their first interactions with your product to ask them how much they like it and if they would recommend it.

There are different questions you need to ask at different points in the customer journey. If you don’t take time to ask questions that are customized to your customer’s experience, why would they answer you? And would that data be useful even if they did?

Good Questionnaire Design Leads to Good Results

Would you wear pajamas on a date to a 5 star restaurant? Heck no! You want to look sharp! The same goes for getting your questionnaire dressed up when it’s time to communicate with customers.

Looking your best implies respect and draws the eyes. The implied respect and visual appeal of a well made online questionnaire start the communication between company and customer on the right note.

A poorly designed survey can have the opposite effect. If you don’t spend time to make surveys look good, why should anyone take time to fill it out?

Bad design can create bad results, or no results at all. Even worse, it can come off as insulting. This could inspire negative feedback through other channels like Twitter and Facebook, and hell hath no hashtag like a customer scorned. #realtalk

Your Questionnaire is Competing With the Entire Internet

Keep in mind that your questionnaire is competing with the infinite distractions of the internet. Nobody will make time for a questionnaire with the design aesthetic of a 20-year-old Geocities site.

Untold numbers of better looking web pages are vying for their attention in hopes of being graced with the gentle caress of their clicks.

The unending list of tasks and approaching deadlines is always ominously looming overhead. Clickbait, husky puppy photos, celebrity gossip, and some guy’s thoughts on Deflategate are all only one click away. If your questionnaire is ‘perfectly dialed in for maximum synergistic data analysis’ but gives the perception that it will take too long, you’ll quickly find that ain’t nobody got time for that.

Customer’s time and feedback are gifts. Treat them as such. Show customers the love and respect they deserve. Do not squander their goodwill (and your credibility) with an ugly questionnaire.

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