- “One thing I do with online surveys is post my contact details and email link. Oh yes, I get whacked for this and that - but every criticism helps me hone my craft. In balance I get more thank you emails than I get negatives. But a shame that somebody at Weather Channel didn't put their name and face to the questionnaire. They might have got immediate feedback, fixed their remedial problems and relaunched with much greater success.” –Duncan Stuart
There are several reasons to applaud and emulate his courageous approach.
If you buy into my belief that surveys are another form of customer communication, then what sends a better message to your customers: an anonymous survey with nothing but instructions and questions, or a personalized questionnaire that puts a face and a name to the work while inviting feedback and engagement?
(If you answered “the former,” please surf elsewhere; it’s just not going to work out between us.)
People don’t want to feel like just a number, and they don’t want to feel processed.
Instead, they want to feel a connection to other people, and they want to feel empowered to respond to the intention of the survey as well as its content.
My guess is that respondents who know the creator of the survey –and know that they can offer input on the experience– feel more valued, and that this translates into more serious, lengthy, and thoughtful responses.
And as Duncan mentions, I’m sure that a survey designer who invites comments about her/his instruments will learn far more about how to be an effective survey designer than someone who eschews such contact.
I recently created an internal survey for a large bank. But before we fielded it company-wide, we performed some validity testing.
We watched employees take the survey, and had them talk through the questions and answer options with us.
In addition to being incredibly illuminating (the survey we ended up fielding was quite different from the one we had cooked up in the lab, and far more effective, too), it was an amazing opportunity to connect with the employees and really get their insights on the survey-taking experience.
We learned about the unique connotations of certain in-house terms that could skew the results.
We identified questions that could be deemed as diminishing to certain departments.
And we discovered new topics that needed to be explored.
In the end, we had better flow, better wording, better answer categories, and a superior instrument in every way.
And all of these great things happened because we (the survey creators) sat face-to-face with them (the survey takers) and had wonderful interactions about the entire scope of the project.
In addition to discussing the survey specifically, we covered:
- Why do the employees think the bank is doing this survey, and why now?
- What events and/or tensions are driving the situation?
- What makes an employee really open up and be honest on a survey?
At the end of the day, we learned far more than we ever would have had we just sat behind our desks and remained anonymous.
Sure, we would have had data. But it would have been far less rich than what we ended up with.
Best of all, everyone benefits. We learn more as professionals, the respondents have more appreciation for the survey process, and our clients learn even more great information.