Surveys, surveys, and more surveys.
Sometimes they are helpful, sometimes they are a pain. Sometimes they provide you with valuable insights, sometimes they land in a big slush e-pile of wasted garbage.
The concept behind the survey is simple: If you can pull input from clients, suppliers, employees and others, you can sometimes learn what they like, and what they don’t. In some cases, you may capture a new idea or two — or realize something that you thought “worked” really doesn’t.
Most self-created business surveys are not statistically valid; you need to comply with some basic guidelines to ensure the data is reliable in that sense. On the other hand, if you can poll a few hundred people on an important idea, you may gather enough insights to really know the lay of the land.
You can access several free or inexpensive survey tools. We’ve used the survey function within constantcontact.com for several years to operate the poll asking readers where they find most of their business. This poll produces anonymous results.
Other surveys allow you to “see” who is responding — and perhaps to directly intervene when things aren’t quite right. In one case, I used the survey tool to save a project with a major association. We were hearing rumblings of discontent that our publication no longer served the association’s needs.
I drew up a survey, keeping the questions objective but still designed to elicit a more positive than negative response. Responses poured in. Indeed, most of the people liked our publication and some really loved it.There was one person who truly opposed the publication. It turns out he was one of the association’s directors — who, to our face, never indicated any dissatisfaction with the publication.
This data allowed me to design a strategy to work around the problem and retain/restore the contract.
Now, we’re testing a new piece of emailing software. It has a survey function. It isn’t as elegant as some of the others, but the question here is whether it is good enough for our needs.
So I’m inviting you to complete the two question survey. This should take you perhaps 10 seconds if you want to be quick; if you want to be thoughtful about your answer to the second question, it may take a bit longer.
The survey is anonymous. If you want me to know you are answering it, just identify yourself in the second box, or by email to me.
I’ll share with you this time next week the results of this initiative and describe the survey tool and software I’m using then.