Surveys: The Small Business Owner’s Secret Weapon for Success
Surveys are a powerful tool for understanding your customers and making data-informed decisions.
What is a survey?
Surveys collect information from a group of people to gain insights, opinions, and feedback. They can help small business owners, and marketers understand what customers and prospects want, allowing them to make informed decisions about products, services, and marketing strategies.
At crowdspring, we regularly survey customers and prospects. Before launching our business over a decade ago, we spent months doing quantitative and qualitative surveys with prospective customers. We’ve done many surveys since then, including surveying each customer who seeks help from our customer support team. Over 60% of the projects posted to our custom design and naming platform are from repeat customers. Surveys help us constantly improve what is already a world-class customer experience.
This guide will cover everything you must know about surveys, including why they matter, how to create them, best practices, and examples of great surveys. We include clear, actionable insights and examples you can apply immediately to your business.
Surveys: The Ultimate Guide
Why surveys matter
Surveys provide valuable data that can help you:
- Understand your customers: Surveys help you gain insights into your customers’ needs, preferences, and motivations. By understanding your customers better, you can tailor your products, services, and marketing efforts to meet their expectations.
- Identify areas for improvement: Surveys can help you pinpoint areas where your business can improve, such as customer service, product quality, or pricing.
- Measure satisfaction: You can use surveys to measure customer satisfaction and loyalty, which is crucial for business growth and customer retention.
- Make data-driven decisions: Survey data enables you to make informed decisions based on honest customer feedback.
- Validate ideas: Surveys are an excellent way to test new product, services, or business ideas before investing time and resources into development.
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Types of surveys
Customer satisfaction surveys
These surveys help you understand how satisfied your customers are with your products, services, and overall customer experience. They can provide insights into areas that need improvement and help you identify loyal customers.
Example 1: Restaurant survey
- How would you rate the overall taste and quality of our food?
- How would you rate the cleanliness of our restaurant?
- Was the staff attentive and friendly during your visit?
- Did you find the menu pricing to be reasonable?
- How likely are you to recommend our restaurant to others?
Example 2: Online clothing store survey
- How satisfied are you with the variety of products offered in our online store?
- Was the online shopping experience easy and enjoyable?
- How would you rate the quality of the items you received?
- Were the delivery times satisfactory?
- How likely are you to shop with us again in the future?
Market research surveys
These surveys help you gather information about your target market, such as demographics, preferences, and buying habits. This information can be used to make informed marketing and product development decisions.
Example 1: New product survey for a fitness studio
- How often do you exercise?
- What types of exercise do you enjoy most?
- Are you interested in trying new fitness classes or workout routines?
- What factors are most important to you when choosing a fitness studio?
- How likely are you to try a new fitness class if it is offered at our studio?
Example 2: Pricing survey for a software company
- What is your primary role in your organization?
- What types of software do you currently use for your job?
- How much do you typically spend on software per year?
- What features are most important to you when choosing software?
- How likely are you to consider our software if it was priced competitively?
Small businesses can launch many other types of surveys, including the following:
- Market segmentation surveys: Identify and understand customer segments to tailor marketing strategies and product offerings.
- Brand awareness surveys: Measure how well your target audience recognizes your brand (brand identity) and its attributes.
- Product development surveys: Gather input from customers and prospects about potential new products or features.
- Pricing surveys: Determine the optimal price points for your products or services based on customer perceptions and willingness to pay.
- Customer satisfaction surveys: Assess overall satisfaction with your products or services and identify areas for improvement.
- Customer loyalty surveys: Measure the likelihood of customers to continue doing business with you and recommend your brand to others.
- Website usability surveys: Evaluate your website’s user experience and identify improvement areas.
- Event feedback surveys: Collect feedback from attendees about their experience at your events, such as workshops or webinars.
- Content marketing surveys: Understand the types of content your audience finds valuable and engaging to improve your content strategy.
- Social media surveys: Assess the effectiveness of your social media strategy and gather insights on how to engage your audience better.
- Competitor analysis surveys: Gather insights about your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses from your target audience.
- Supply chain surveys: Evaluate your suppliers’ performance and identify improvement areas.
- Sales process surveys: Assess your sales process’s effectiveness and identify optimization opportunities.
- Advertising effectiveness surveys: Measure the impact of your advertising campaigns on brand perception and purchase intent.
- Customer service satisfaction surveys: Evaluate customer satisfaction with your support team and identify areas for improvement.
- Industry trend surveys: Keep track of emerging trends and changes within your industry to stay ahead of the competition.
- Partner satisfaction surveys: Assess the satisfaction of your business partners and identify opportunities for better collaboration.
- Location analysis surveys: Gather input from customers and prospects about potential new locations for your business.
- Franchisee satisfaction surveys: Evaluate the satisfaction of your franchisees and identify areas for improvement in the franchise system.
- Training and development surveys: Assess the effectiveness of your employee training programs and identify areas for improvement.
Survey question types
A well-structured survey should include various question types to gain varied and informative insights. Here’s a comprehensive list of question types with details and examples for each:
1. Multiple-choice questions
These questions give respondents a list of options to choose from. They’re perfect for gathering quantitative data and can be either single-answer or multiple-answer.
Example: What is your favorite type of cuisine?
2. Open-ended questions
Open-ended questions allow respondents to answer in their own words, providing qualitative data and valuable insights.
Example: What do you like most about our product?
3. Likert scale
Likert scale questions measure respondents’ agreement or disagreement with a statement. They help understand opinions and attitudes.
Example: I find the customer support team helpful and knowledgeable.
- Strongly agree
- Neither agree nor disagree
- Strongly disagree
4. Rating scale
Rating scale questions ask respondents to rate a product, service, or experience on a scale (usually from 1 to 10 or 1 to 5). This question type helps measure satisfaction levels.
Example: On a scale of 1-5, how satisfied are you with our service? (1 – Very dissatisfied, 5 – Very satisfied)
Ranking questions ask respondents to rank items in order of preference or importance. This question type helps identify preferences and priorities.
Example: Rank the following features in order of importance to you when choosing a smartphone:
- Battery life
- Camera quality
- Storage capacity
- Screen size
6. Matrix questions
Matrix questions present a series of statements and ask respondents to evaluate them using the same options (such as a Likert scale). This question type simplifies surveys by grouping similar questions.
|Statements||Strongly agree||Agree||Neither agree nor disagree||Disagree||Strongly disagree|
|The website is easy to use|
|The checkout process is seamless|
|Customer support is helpful|
7. Demographic questions
Demographic questions help you gather information about respondents’ age, gender, location, income, education, etc. This data enables you to segment your audience and better understand their needs.
Example: What is your age group?
8. Yes/no or binary questions
These questions require a simple “yes” or “no” answer. They’re great for obtaining clear and concise information.
Example: Have you purchased from our website in the past six months?
9. Picture choice questions
Picture choice questions present images and ask respondents to select one or more. This question type is visually engaging and helpful when dealing with products, designs, or aesthetics.
Example: Which of these logo designs do you prefer for our new product line?
- [Image A]
- [Image B]
- [Image C]
10. Slider questions
Slider questions allow respondents to move a slider along a scale to indicate their preference or opinion. This question type offers a more interactive experience for survey participants.
Example: On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our product to a friend or colleague? (1 – Not likely at all, 10 – Extremely likely).
11. Dropdown questions
Dropdown questions present a list of options in a dropdown menu. This question type is useful when you have a long list of options that would be overwhelming in a multiple-choice format.
Example: In which country do you reside?
- [Dropdown list of countries]
12. Semantic differential scale
This question type presents two opposite statements and asks respondents to choose a point on a scale between them. It’s useful for measuring attitudes, beliefs, and opinions.
Example: Rate your experience with our product on the following scale:
- Difficult to use 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 Easy to use
13. Constant sum questions
These questions ask respondents to allocate specific points or percentages among various items. This question type helps identify the relative importance of different options.
Example: Allocate 100 points among the following product features according to their importance to you:
- Battery life
- Camera quality
- Storage capacity
- Screen size
14. Net Promoter Score (NPS) questions
NPS questions measure customer loyalty by asking respondents to rate their likelihood of recommending your business to others. It’s calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors (scores 0-6) from the percentage of promoters (scores 9-10).
Example: On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend our company to a friend or colleague?
15. Contingency questions
Contingency questions are follow-up questions that depend on the answer to a previous question. They help you gather more in-depth information.
Example: Did you purchase on our website in the past six months? (Yes/No) If yes: What factors influenced your decision to make a purchase?
16. Conjoint analysis
Conjoint analysis questions present a series of options with different attributes and ask respondents to rate or rank them. This question type helps you understand which product features or service elements are most valuable to customers.
Example: Rank the following smartphones based on your preferences:
- Phone A: Excellent battery life, average camera, high price
- Phone B: Good battery life, excellent camera, medium price
- Phone C: Average battery life, good camera, low price
17. MaxDiff (Best-Worst) scaling
MaxDiff questions ask respondents to select the best and worst options. This question type helps you determine the most and least preferred items.
Example: From the following list of product features, please select the most important and least important to you:
- Battery life
- Camera quality
- Storage capacity
- Screen size
18. Forced-choice questions
Forced-choice questions present a pair of options and ask respondents to choose one. This question type helps you understand preferences when respondents can’t select multiple options.
Example: Which is more important to you when choosing a smartphone?
- Battery life
- Camera quality
19. Time-based questions
Time-based questions ask respondents about their experiences or opinions at a specific time. This question type helps you understand behavior, beliefs, or attitudes changes.
Example: How satisfied were you with our customer service during your most recent interaction?
20. Scenario-based questions
Scenario-based questions present a hypothetical situation and ask respondents to indicate how they would respond. This question type helps understand decision-making processes and predict behavior in specific situations.
Example: What would you do if you were shopping for a new smartphone and the model you wanted was out of stock?
- Wait for it to become available
- Choose a different model from the same brand
- Choose a different model from another brand
- Not purchase a new smartphone at all
Incorporating a diverse range of question types in your survey allows you to gather various data and uncover meaningful insights.
Carefully consider your survey goals and the information you want to collect when choosing which question types to include.
Best practices for creating surveys
To ensure your surveys are effective, follow these best practices:
- Define your objectives: Identify the goals of your survey and what information you want to collect. This will help you create focused, relevant questions.
- Keep it short and simple: Limit your survey to 10-15 questions to avoid survey fatigue and keep respondents engaged. Use clear and concise language.
- Mix question types: Use open-ended and close-ended questions to get qualitative and quantitative data.
- Avoid leading and biased questions: Ensure your questions are neutral and don’t lead respondents to a specific answer.
- Test your survey: Before sending it, test your survey with a small group to ensure the questions are clear, relevant, and error-free.
- Offer an incentive: Encourage respondents to complete your survey by offering a small incentive, such as a discount or entry into a prize draw.
How to create a survey
Creating a survey involves four key steps:
- Define your objectives: Determine the purpose of your survey and what information you hope to gather.
- Choose your survey type: Select the type of survey that best aligns with your objectives, such as customer satisfaction, product feedback, or market research.
- Write clear and concise questions: Craft questions that are easy to understand and focus on your objectives.
- Organize your questions: Arrange questions logically and group similar topics together.
Example 1: Online Clothing Store
An online clothing store wants to gather customer feedback on their shopping experience and preferences. Here are ten questions they could include in their survey:
- How did you first hear about our store?
- How would you rate the ease of navigation on our website?
- Were you able to find the products you were looking for?
- How satisfied are you with the product selection and variety?
- How would you rate the quality of the products you purchased?
- How happy are you with the checkout process?
- How likely are you to recommend our store to a friend or colleague?
- What type of clothing are you most interested in purchasing from our store?
- What price range do you typically shop within for clothing items?
- Do you have any suggestions for improving your shopping experience with us?
Example 2: Local Coffee Shop
A local coffee shop wants to understand customer preferences and satisfaction to improve its offerings and service. Here are ten questions they could include in their survey:
- How often do you visit our coffee shop?
- What is your favorite menu item?
- How satisfied are you with the quality of our coffee and food?
- How would you rate the friendliness of our staff?
- How important is the ambiance of the coffee shop to your overall experience?
- Are there any menu items you would like to see added or removed?
- How likely are you to recommend our coffee shop to a friend or colleague?
- What factors are most important when choosing a coffee shop (e.g., location, menu, atmosphere)?
- Do you prefer to visit our coffee shop for work, socializing, or relaxation?
- Do you have any suggestions for improving your experience at our coffee shop?
Incorporating JTBD questions into your surveys
The above are examples of traditional survey questions. You can also pursue a non-traditional approach and use the Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) framework.
JTBD is a framework that focuses on understanding why customers “hire” a product or service to get a particular job done. Instead of merely focusing on demographics and preferences, JTBD seeks to uncover the motivations, desired outcomes, and factors influencing customers’ decisions.
Watch this terrific video that explains the JTBD framework.
To create more insightful surveys using the JTBD framework, follow these tips:
- Identify the “jobs” your customers hire your product or service for.
- Focus on the motivations and desired outcomes behind customer decisions.
- Ask questions about how well your business addresses those “jobs” and where improvements can be made.
Let’s compare two examples using traditional survey questions and how you could survey using the JTBD framework.
Example 1: Restaurant survey
Traditional survey questions for a restaurant:
- How often do you dine at our restaurant?
- What is your favorite dish on our menu?
- On a scale of 1-5, how would you rate the quality of our food?
- On a scale of 1-5, how would you rate the service you received?
- Would you recommend our restaurant to your friends and family?
JTBD survey questions for a restaurant:
- What “job” did you hire our restaurant to do for you (e.g., enjoy a date night, celebrate a special occasion, grab a quick meal)?
- How well did our restaurant help you complete the “job” you needed to get done?
- What factors led you to choose our restaurant for this specific “job”?
- Were there any barriers or challenges that made completing the “job” at our restaurant difficult?
- How could we improve our restaurant to better help you complete the “job” you hired us for?
- What other options did you consider before choosing our restaurant for this “job”?
- What specific elements of our restaurant (e.g., ambiance, menu options, location) contributed to your decision to “hire” us for the “job”?
- What aspects of our service made it easier or more difficult to complete the “job”?
- How can we enhance our menu or offerings to address better the “job” you need to get done?
- Are there any additional services or features we could provide to make completing your “job” easier or more enjoyable?
Example 2: Online Clothing Store Survey Using JTBD Framework
Traditional Survey Questions for an Online Clothing Store:
- What is your age?
- What is your gender?
- What type of clothing do you usually purchase?
- How often do you shop for clothes online?
- What is your preferred price range for clothing items?
JTBD Survey Questions for an Online Clothing Store:
- What problem did you try to solve when you shopped for clothes online?
- What specific “job” did you hire our online clothing store to do for you (e.g., find a unique outfit, save time, discover new styles)?
- How well did our online store help you complete the “job” you needed to get done?
- What aspects of our online store made completing the “job” easy or difficult?
- How can we improve our online store to better help you complete the “job” you hired us for?
- What other options did you consider before choosing our online store for this “job”?
- What factors led you to choose our online store over others for this specific “job”?
- How did our website design, navigation, and product selection contribute to your ability to complete the “job”?
- Are there any features or services we could add to make completing the “job” you hired us for easier?
- How can we enhance our product offerings or promotions to address better the “job” you needed to get done?
Surveys are a valuable tool for small business owners to understand their customers, employees, and market. By following best practices, using a mix of traditional and JTBD questions, and incorporating specific examples, you can create effective surveys that provide actionable insights for your business. Remember to keep your surveys short, simple, and focused on your objectives to ensure maximum engagement and valuable results.
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