Deirdre Booth-Gilmore has hared some interesting and (to me) surprising insights about surveys at a SMPS Build Business CPSM Best Practices Forum session today. (That is a mouthful, probably only meaningful to people attending the convention in San Antonio.)
First, she says recent research/surveys indicate the best time for response to conduct online surveys is Monday, Friday and Sunday. I did a double-take, and she said she did too, because previously, recommended times for communication were generally mid-week, especially Tuesday. The reason the off hours may work better? People may have more time to respond, or are more inclined to look and clean off things from their desks.
However, Deirdre thinks online surveys for most AEC businesses seeking really meaningful information are a much weaker option compared to phone or (even better) in-person surveys. (She also mentions mail-in surveys, but these are probably relatively inconvenient and costly compared to the online option, in most cases.)
Why/what should you survey?
She outlines these options.
Client satisfaction/feedback: Used to benchmark clients’ overall satisfaction with key performance indicators. (Most often used). Perform at the beginning, middle and end of the project.
The mid-project survey gives you the chance to perform course corrections, she says. The beginning survey helps with benchmarking.
Market intelligence/thought leader: Provides opinion on current issues and future trends. Can be used to create marketing materials and/or drive strategic direction of the firm.
Benchmarking: Compare your firm with others. Covers best practices, firm structures, and key trends (Least likely to be used.)
Internal: Measures staff satisfaction, brand perception and performance reviews.
She also mentions focus groups, “in-person gatherings to gauge opinions on specific topics,” but says these are challenging to organize, especially when you need to bring high-power people together to the event.
The gold standard, she says, for most AEC business would be the externally facilitated in-person survey. She does these. The survey-taker needs to be empathetic and a good listener, and usually isn’t wise to have a person directly connected with the project to conduct the survey, especially if the results are at all negative.
And you really want the negative feedback, if it is there. You may be able to make course-corrections, and you can take the observations, and make changes. Then you have good reason to follow-up with the current or former client to share the news.
Deirdre covered lots of good stuff in her brief 35 minute session. She can be reached at www.tankgirlmarketing.com.