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This new guide to creating online surveys from Pinnion is an ideal resource for anyone wondering how to write an online survey, how to create an online quiz, or what makes a good survey question. This ...

This new guide to creating online surveys from Pinnion is an ideal resource for anyone wondering how to write an online survey, how to create an online quiz, or what makes a good survey question. This book is written for those who do not have formal training in market research or statistics, yet are interested in customer opinion or audience response.

Our book starts with the reasons why you should always ask “Why?” first whenever you are thinking of doing a customer survey. We also cover the who, what, when, where, and how of creating opinion polls, with a constant focus on making sure that the surveys are enjoyable for your customers while being useful for you and your colleagues.

You’ll also learn how to get support for doing a survey, how to increase customer engagement with surveys, the importance of structured communication, and the types of survey questions that are available. It’s designed to be a helpful resource especially if you use Pinnion for online surveys and trivia games, but also if you use another option for free online surveys.

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    Pinnion survey book Pinnion survey book Document Transcript

    • Customer Opinion and AudienceResponseSurveys and trivia games that are Easy to Make, Fun to Take Bill Leath and Barry Fuchs © 2012 Pinnion www.pinnion.com
    • Customer Opinion and Audience ResponseTable of ContentsIntroduction .................................................................................................................................................. 3Why? ............................................................................................................................................................. 5 Survey justification statement .............................................................................................................. 7Who? ............................................................................................................................................................. 9 Your Customers ......................................................................................................................................... 9 Your Colleagues....................................................................................................................................... 11What? .......................................................................................................................................................... 14 Multiple choice and structured communication .................................................................................... 14 Content ................................................................................................................................................... 16Where?........................................................................................................................................................ 18When? ......................................................................................................................................................... 20How? ........................................................................................................................................................... 22 Answer options ....................................................................................................................................... 23 Dichotomous ....................................................................................................................................... 23 Multiple choice ................................................................................................................................... 23 Rating scales – Likert and Semantic Differential ................................................................................. 24 Image select ........................................................................................................................................ 25 Demographic ....................................................................................................................................... 25 Skip logic and branching ..................................................................................................................... 26 Text piping........................................................................................................................................... 27 Distribution options ................................................................................................................................ 28Conclusion ................................................................................................................................................... 31About Us ..................................................................................................................................................... 32Bibliography ................................................................................................................................................ 33 2
    • www.pinnion.com Introduction“Let’s do a survey!” You’ve probably heard that phrase countless times around the office, at a meetingof your favorite club or association, or while planning events at your child’s school. After all, what betterway is there to show that you really want to know what’s on the minds of your customers, members, co-parishioners, fellow parents, etc? A survey says “I’m listening,” provides you with information, and cantake the pressure off of making big decisions. That’s the good side.There is a bad side to surveys, though. Or, should we say, a dark side. After all, dark is the bottom of thetrash can where countless ignored surveys have ended up. And, dark are the desk drawers where manysurvey results get stuffed away – quickly forgotten by managers who are too busy to remember whythey even created a survey in the first place. When survey requests appear on every sales receipt andarrive in your inbox after each hotel stay or car repair, it’s easy to see why “survey fatigue” is causingmany of us to cringe each time we’re asked to give feedback (Peltz, 2012).That’s why it’s time for a new type of survey guide. Sure, it helps know your dichotomous question fromyour likert scale if you want to write a good survey, but we believe it’s more important than ever tothink of surveys as snapshots of customer opinion. Like a photo snapshot, they should be easy, quick,and fun for everyone involved. Like a traditional survey, they should provide you, the creator, withmeaningful information that’s easy to process, understand, and share with others. Bottom line: surveysshould be easy to make and fun to take.We’ve tried to organize this book so that it’s easy and fun for you, too. The easy part comes from our“just the facts” approach, where you’ll learn about surveys through these familiar chapters:  Why  Who  What  Where  When  HowThe fun should come naturally, because we actually want you to read this book and learn how to createfun surveys. Just in case we’re not fun, or funny, enough on our own, we’re also going to explain howyou can include trivia, quizzes, and other fun stuff in your surveys so that your customers feel less likethey’re doing their chores and more like they’re actually have a good time interacting with your survey. 3
    • Customer Opinion and Audience ResponseNote: We will use “customer” throughout this book. Please feel free to substitute “readers,”“members,” “co-workers,” “classmates,” or whatever term best describes your target audience. 4
    • www.pinnion.com Why? If we were going to writeOne of our main goals is to help you create surveys that are a news article about youractionable – that allow decisions to be made based on the survey, then “Why” mightresponses that you receive. It’s for this reason that “Why?” should be the last thing that webe the first question that you ask, and answer, when you’re mention. For example, weconsidering whether to conduct a survey. could write “Our most awesome reader surveyedAs you come up with answers to that question, you’ll probably be his audience of 6,000surprised at how many different reasons there can be to create a people in the Chicagoland area through his blog andsurvey. Here are just a few examples: a mobile survey app  Keep in touch with your customers between purchases during the second week of  Remind customers of your brand at times when you would March because he needed like for them to make a purchase their input to create the  Solicit opinions on a new product line before making a biggest impact with his major investment upcoming project.” In this  Generate fresh content for your Facebook page or website case, you learned about  Get feedback on the quality of your company’s customer the who, what, when, service how, and where beforeWe’ll cover more examples throughout this book, but the we got to the why: “because he needed theirimportant thing to notice is how the strategy behind surveys has input to create thechanged. Three of the five examples listed above are designed to biggest impact with hisdo something more than just collect customer opinions. They are upcoming project.”maintaining relationships, drawing customers in to your website or Surveys are different,brand, and perhaps even driving additional purchases. The nature though. It’s important toof online surveys allows you to do this in a way that doesn’t detract always ask Why as thefrom the primary reason that most surveys are created: to collect first step of your research.customer opinions.Until now, surveys have often felt like transactions, because that’show they’ve been designed. And, frankly, how many of us want togo through another transaction – in the form of the survey – to askabout an earlier transaction – such as going through the grocerycheckout – that we already completed? To add insult to injury, 5
    • Customer Opinion and Audience Responsethese transactional surveys often arrived at inconvenient times, which is exactly why so many of us gotin the habit of simply deleting the emails and hanging up the phone whenever we were asked toparticipate. Key Point – The Why of Surveys: Surveys are no longer a one-way proposition, e.g. “give us information that’s valuable to us.” Now, surveys and survey results can be offered as content that provides value back to your customers.Wegman’s, a popular East Coast grocery chain based in Rochester, NY, has moved away from thistransactional model through the creation of the Wegman’s Opinion Panel. Customers on the panel“have agreed to participate in ongoing Wegmans surveys as part of their membership” and “directlyinfluence the direction of future products and services that benefit (the members of the panel).” Wow!The word “panel” alone makes this online group of customers sound prestigious and Wegmans talks agood game about how much influence the panel can have over product decisions. But, is it real or justmarketing-speak? Allow this Wegman’s customer to answer that question with her enthusiastic Tumblrpost: Figure 1 – Source: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/wegmans?before=1314840187Double wow! Imagine having customers who not only read your emails, but actually look forward tohaving them arrive. The right mix of feedback opportunity and valuable content can make this possible.This is not to say that you’ll only hear from happy customers who want to shower you with praise. Thatshouldn’t be the goal, either, because hearing about the negative situations that some of yourcustomers have experienced provides important opportunities to improve your products and services.Remember, this is the age of oversharing and constant status updates. If your unhappy customer canquickly and easily provide direct feedback, knowing that someone on the other end is listening, you mayavoid an off-the-cuff, upset post to Facebook and get the chance to turn his experience around. This can 6
    • www.pinnion.combe especially valuable if you or your staff are able to correct a simple misperception that the customerhad about your products or services.Keeping all of this in mind, let’s get down to the reason(s) why you want to create a survey. You maywant to start by filling in the blanks of this statement:Survey justification statement This survey will provide (name(s) of decision makers or committee) with the necessary data to (decision that will be made) by asking (customers, members, etc.) to provide opinions regarding (a past experience or upcoming situation). We recommend a survey for this project instead of other feedback mechanisms because (list of reasons that other options were rejected). We have already checked for this data at (potential existing sources of information that have already been explored) and have not found the information that we need.That last sentence is very important, because surveys are just one way of getting the information thatyou need. And, for all of the advantages of modern surveys, it is still possible to annoy your customersby over-surveying them. This is especially true if you ask them a question that has already been askedbefore, which gives the impression that the information they provided to you earlier was simply ignored.So, think of all of the places where the information that you need could already be lurking: sales reports,surveys conducted by other departments, trade publications, Census data, etc. You might find enoughexisting data to realize that you don’t need to create a survey at all. That’s great! Seriously. You’ve savedyourself, your customers, and your organization valuable time and money. You’ll find another reason todo a survey soon enough, so don’t worry if you end up not needing to do one right at this moment. Therest of this book will still be here when you need it.Even if you’ve determined that the necessary data isn’t available, there’s still the question of whether asurvey is the most appropriate method of getting the information that you want or need. Let’s say thatone of your product lines has experienced a substantial drop in sales during the past year. You couldsurvey your customers to find out what they like and don’t like about that product, but the first stepmay be to do some industry research to determine if your competitors are seeing a similar drop in sales.The clues provided by other types of research may persuade you that a survey is not necessary. Or, youmay still want to do a survey, but with a different set of questions than you had originally planned touse. 7
    • Customer Opinion and Audience ResponseOther types of research include:Primary sources  Focus groups  Secret shoppers  Committees and advisory boards  Individual interviews (aka depth interviews)  Mall Intercepts – quick, face-to-face feedback solicited from consumers at shopping mallsSecondary sources  Internet searches  Industry reports, such as Hoover’s and IBISWorld  Books, magazines, and trade publications  Census data  Survey data from other organizationsIf you’ve made it this far, then you must have decided that a survey is right tool for getting theinformation that you need. And, by taking a bit of time to get to the Why of your survey, you also figuredout a lot about the Who, What, and How. Let’s take a look at the first of these in the next section. 8
    • www.pinnion.com Who?When you start to answer this question, it probably won’t take you long to figure out that there arereally two sets of Whos that you need to think about. In fact, it definitely won’t take you very longbecause we are about to tell you:One set of Whos are thepeople who will be Your Customersresponding to your survey, • Needs clear, concise survey questionsyour customers. The other • To provide honest, thoughtful answersset of Whos are the peoplewho will make decisionsbased on the survey results,your colleagues. Your Your Colleaguesultimate goal is to provide • Need a clear, concise summary of answersyour colleagues with the • To make good decisions based on audience opiniondata that they need in the Figure 2: The Two Whos - Your Audience and Your Colleaguesclearest, most conciseformat possible. This meansthat you need to create a survey that’s equally clear and concise, so that your customers will providehonest, thoughtful answers to each of the questions that you present. Key Point – The Who of Surveys: Your colleagues and your customers both want to contribute and provide good information. Both groups are also made up of very busy individuals, so it’s critical to respect everyone’s time and good nature by ensuring that each survey question: • Is presented only to the proper individuals • Will provide valuable data for your colleagues or yourselfYour CustomersWe’ve written this book as a resource for people who want to gather customer opinions for use at abusiness or non-profit organization. We are not scientists and assume that you are not, either, so youare likely interested in gathering a “sufficiently reliable” (Shapiro, 2008) estimate of customer opinionthrough your surveys. In other words, you’re interested in creating a simple tool that will give you a 9
    • Customer Opinion and Audience Responsegood idea of customer opinions, not in developing a complex study that strives for a perfect set ofresults.One way to do get good results is to ensure that your sample, or the number of people who respond toyour survey, is large enough to provide you with good “ballpark” data that can be assumed to representthe opinions of your customer base as a whole. One number that’s batted around quite frequently is 30. As explained wonderfully in these charts from Jed Campbell, 30 is the magic number where things become a lot more stable, even if you would need a much larger sample in order to conduct a formal study. If you’d like a better idea of the number of responses you’ll need for a meaningful sample, check out the Sample Size Calculator available online from Creative Research Systems. These estimates assume that you will be using a random sample of respondents who, in turn, will be representative of a larger group of random potential customers. Of course, if you are asking current customers to participate in your survey, then your sample will not be random because your respondents will all have at least one trait in common: they are Figure 3 – Source: http://www.jedcampbell.com/?p=262 all customers of your business. The samplewill be even less random if you undertake some of the relationship-building strategies that wementioned in the Why section, because now your respondents all have two things in common: they arecustomers and they have agreed to participate in a series of surveys that you send to them over time.This is not necessarily a problem in itself and does not suggest that the information that you receive isn’tvaluable. It just may not be scientifically-valid. You’ll need to assess whether the results you receive are 10
    • www.pinnion.comindicative of your base of customers or potential customers as awhole. Perhaps you’ll learn that your respondents are pickier or Imagine that you run a fashion brand for menmore demanding, but also more loyal, and keep that in mind as you and women. If you’rereview and evaluate the feedback that they provide. planning to ask forYou also want to be sure that you’re approaching a relevant group, opinions about ladies handbags, then you’llor segment, of customers with the invitation to participate in your probably want to invitesurvey. By determining who you wish to invite, and why, you’ll help only women to answerto ensure the validity of the opinions you receive. You’ll also avoid your survey.bothering a group of individuals who likely will not have any Probably, but notinterest in a particular survey, thereby increasing the chance that definitely.they’ll read the next communication that you send their way. If you’re nearing theDetermining the right people doesn’t stop at the survey level. It holiday season andgoes right down to the individual questions. You probably believe that men may be interested in purchasingremember old paper surveys that asked you to, for example, Skip handbags as gifts, then itto Question 9 depending on your answer to Question 6. With may be worth sending theonline and mobile surveys, there’s no need to ask individuals to survey to them as well.skip ahead, because you can automate your survey to do the And, if you’re in touchskipping for them. This is called Question Branching, or Skip Logic, with a group of men andand we’ll talk about it more in the How section. For now, just women who blog aboutremember that each survey and each question should be fashion, then you maypresented only to those who can help you to get the information want to include all of them, or none of them, inthat you need. your invitation.Your ColleaguesThere are a few phrases that you don’t want to hear from yourcolleagues as you walk into the conference room, giddy withexcitement from all of the great data you were able to collect fromyour survey respondents:  “So what?”  “I’ll take a look at this next week.” 11
    • Customer Opinion and Audience Response  “Wait, we did a survey?”  “Just give a copy to my assistant.”It’s not hard to imagine how deflating these comments would be. After all, you’ve worked to collect thisdata and now it’s clear that the results won’t see the light of day. What’s more, your customers took thetime to share their opinions – how would they feel to know that the information was just filed away,never to be seen again?The key to avoiding this ugliness and despair is to remember the ultimate goal that we mentionedearlier in this chapter: to provide clear, concise data. This starts by thinking about your colleagues as youcreate your survey questions. When you come up with a question that you would like to ask, consider how the data that comes •Each question should provide data that your colleagues need from the responses to that •Eliminate any question that only gives "nice to know" question will be used. Create information Questions without a clear purpose should be •Ask colleagues to look for confusing or out-of-order questions •Try taking the survey in multiple ways, including on a eliminated to shorten the Test smartphone survey and save time for everyone involved (Walonick, 2004). This way, •Explain the Why of the survey and give an overview of results •Different audiences will need the results in different formats you’ll end up with survey Share results full of must-have information that your colleagues will beFigure 4 - Basic steps for a clear, concise survey clamoring for, instead of a bland report with nice-to-know facts that are easily ignored.Your colleagues also have a role to play during survey preparation: helping to test it out beforedistribution to your customers. If your survey is longer than two or three questions, then there’s a goodchance it has some complexity to it. Testing will not only find any mistakes, it will also alert you to anyquestions or multiple-choice answers that are confusing, ambiguous, or out of order. Think about all ofthe ways that you plan to distribute your survey – online, mobile app, website embed, mobile website,etc. – and make sure that at least one of your testers attempts to take the survey via each of these 12
    • www.pinnion.complatforms (Flagg, 2011). Remember to also test the various types of online browsers that are available,including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer, and Apple Safari.When it comes time to present the results, remember the importance of selling the recipients on theimportance of the data that you have collected. Give them a brief overview of the Why for your survey,so that they can see why the survey was the right application for this research challenge, along with asummary of the key learnings that you have identified from the results. Consider the ways in which yourresults should be presented and keep in mind that you may need to make multiple versions available: aPDF of simple charts and graphs may be appropriate for senior managers and committee members whoneed a quick view of the key information, while department managers may appreciate having access tothe complete results set in spreadsheet format so that they can sort and calculate the data howeverthey wish. 13
    • Customer Opinion and Audience Response What?We mentioned in the last section that there are at least four different ways to distribute an onlinesurvey via the Internet and mobile devices, plus at least four different web browsers. (We won’t evenget into all of the different versions available for each browser.) This is remarkable considering thathousehold telephone ownership did not become prevalent enough to make telephone surveys possibleuntil the 1960s and 70s (Kohut, 2009). In other words, it only took about three decades to go from anage when most polling was done through personal interviews to today’s world of instantaneousresponse by individuals who can share their opinions from nearly any location in the world.The fact that it’s so easy to create surveys today means that there has been an immeasurable increase inthe number of surveys, not to mention in the number of people who create surveys. Many surveycreators today do not work with surveys on a full-time basis and have no formal training in surveymethodology or market research. That’s why we wrote this book and it’s probably why you’re reading it.So, this section is devoted to exploring a topic that may seem obvious: What is a survey? In short, it’s aquestionnaire or poll that is distributed to a group of constituents – random or not – for the purpose ofcollecting information that can aid the decision-making process. Now, let’s break it down and find outabout the elements that can ensure your online survey gets a lot of love, not hate (Or, as they say onTwitter, an #FTW, not a #Fail.)Multiple choice and structured communicationThe fact that you have chosen to use a survey, instead of another type of primary or secondary research,suggests that many of your questions will be structured with multiple choice options for the answer.After all, if you were interested in detailed or open-ended responses, then focus groups or individualinterviews would be a better option for collecting information. These qualitative forms of research havetheir advantages:  Complete, unfiltered opinions directly from customers  Ability to ask detailed follow-up questions  Face-to-face interaction can develop brand loyalty that is not possible with other research methods. 14
    • www.pinnion.comOn the other hand, focus groups and individual interviews are extremely high-cost in both time andmoney. Most organizations simply cannot afford to do them very often, if at all. The informationgathered through these methods is also unstructured, meaning that no two answers will be exactly thesame. It takes a lot of time and effort to attempt to summarize open-ended responses so that they canbe compared to one another. And, the original words spoken by respondents are often lost once thesummary is created anyway.We believe that the quantitative nature of structured communication provides a framework to simplifythe research process in many ways:  Respondents can move quickly through each question by choosing from a list of pre-determined answers  Creators get a data that’s easy to analyze, so that trends and preferences can be easily spotted  The data can be processed and calculated in a variety of ways.  Answer choices can be re-used at the same time or in future surveys to allow for comparisons between different groups of respondents. Key Point – The What of Surveys: Structured communication creates usable data and simplifies the research process by providing a list of potential responses for each question.Sheetz, a regional convenience store chain, uses structured communication to take customer orders viain-store kiosks. This speeds the ordering process by showing customers exactly what is available for eachsandwich. As the company states,the method is “quick, easy, helps toensure the accuracy of (customer)orders and prevents others fromknowing” about whatever unusualfood craving you may be having atthat moment (Sheetz, n.d.).The speed and ease of structuredcommunication applies whetheryou’re a sandwich maker jugglingseveral orders at once or a surveymaker who needs to collect and Figure 5 - Your lunch order can be a form of structured communication 15
    • Customer Opinion and Audience Responseprocess responses from many individuals. Therefore, most of your survey questions will probably becreated in a multiple-choice format. You may need to include some options for short, open responses,but these should be used sparingly. We’ll cover question types in detail in the How section.ContentIn the 1930s, IBM hired a teacher named R.B. Johnson to create a mass-produced version of hisinvention: a test-scoring machine that could sense pencil markings on a sheet of paper (IBM, n.d.).Sound familiar? Nearly 100 years later, we’re all too familiar with the ubiquitous “#2 pencil” form thatpersists to this day in classrooms and polling stations. These forms may fit the bill for the quickness andaccuracy that we look for in a good survey, but they’re pretty lousy when it comes to customerengagement. They may have been unusual eight decades ago, but any novelty value that these formsmay have had when they were invented has long since worn away.With online surveys, we’re no longer bound by the size of paper, the cost of postage, or the complexitiesof printing. Some may argue that this allowed survey makers to swing too far in the other direction –using the free, unlimited nature of the web to create overly-complex surveys that seemed to go onforever. Luckily, the advent of surveys that can be distributed through mobile devices has brought us anideal compromise. Mobile surveys still allow for the type of multimedia content that was never possiblewith paper surveys. Yet, the small screens of mobile devices – and hurried nature of mobile users –require survey designers to bring some discipline and restraint back into the design process.Which sounds wonderful except for one problem: it’s still a survey. And, consumers are tired of fillingout surveys. Those decades of filling in little circles with #2 pencils, followed by another decade ofconstant requests for interminable online surveys, have taken their toll. Think about your ownexperience – how many times have you come up with an excuse to get off the phone with a pollster?How quickly do you delete the survey request emails that arrive in your inbox? But, even if you can’tstand the thought of another survey, does that mean that you’ve stopped sharing your opinionsaltogether? Of course not!People still love to tell you what’s on their mind. So, why not ask them that? Instead of “Please fill outthis customer survey,” what about “Hi Jodi, we’d like to know what’s on your mind today.” That is theactual reason you are contacting Jodi, after all, and it avoids the negative connotations that come with“survey,” “poll,” or “questionnaire.” We recommend banishing those words from your customercommunication because they don’t refer at all to the relationship that you are trying to build. There’s a 16
    • www.pinnion.comreason that the audience at a movie theater is invited to “enjoy the show” and not “view thisprojection,” after all. Talk to your audience about the experience, not the tool.This means you’ll have to live up to your promise of meaningful interaction with a survey that’sinteresting and engaging to your respondents. Consider the options that your survey provider offers inthis area. Will you have the ability to:  Include pictures in various locations o The start or end of the survey o Each question o Each answer option  Display results for each question o Online o On iPhones or Android devices o In the same screen as the survey (instead of a link to another page)  Use different types of input options for each question o Touchscreen buttons o Checkboxes o Picker wheels o Sliders o Open response/free text  Include trivia questions or other diversions Figure 6 - Touchscreens allow for  Offer points or rewards for responses new types of input options, such as sliders  Create surveys with unlimited questions and then collect unlimited responsesYou can check the About Us page if you’d like to learn about a survey provider that offers each of theseoptions, but it really is important to consider these types of features no matter which provider that youuse. The more that you can do to create surveys that feel new and different from what’s been offeredbefore, the more innovative your organization looks and the better responses you’ll see. What you offeris only part of the calculation, though. You’ll also need to consider Where your surveys can becompleted. Let’s take a look at that on the next page. 17
    • Customer Opinion and Audience Response Where?In the world of surveys, this used to be a fairly straightforward question. Your respondents might havetaken your survey while they were at your business or event location. Otherwise, consumers probablycompleted your survey at home and business customers provided feedback when they had a few sparemoments at the office. How quickly things have changed.Mobile devices, aka smartphones and tablets, are the most quickly-adopted consumer technology inhistory (Kang, 2011), with nearly 100 million people owning one in the US as of December 2011(comScore, Inc., 2011). About half of these smartphone owners are checking email on almost a dailybasis and this figure rose 33 percent during 2011 alone (comScore, Inc., 2012).The number of locations where customers could be responding to your survey has increased as a resultof the explosive increase in iPhones and Android phones. No longer confined to home or the office, yourcustomers are very likely to be responding wherever they may be, simply because they’re bored. Inwaiting rooms, on buses and trains, and at the cafeteria, mobile devices are the new way to connectwith friends, families, and brands whenever there’s a dull moment…no matter how short that momentmay be.If you plan events, such as conferences, trade shows, festivals, or even a company picnic, then theproliferation of mobile devices gives you a great opportunity to request feedback from your participantswhile they are on-site and ready to provide their opinions about the event. You probably know how hardit is to get people to provide feedback after they’ve left the event, and paper forms handed out at theevent are equally problematic, so mobile really has the potential to change the dynamic in this industry.The only catch is that you’ll still need to capture feedback from your participants at other times of theyear, as we’ll explain in the When section.All of this talk about mobile devices raises another point – Where is no longer just a physical orgeographic concept, but also digital and virtual one. When customers take your survey on a mobiledevice, is it because they received the invitation:  In an email?  Via their Facebook or Twitter app?  From a survey app notification?For those who respond via their computers, the ways in which they could have discovered your surveyare almost too numerous to mention: 18
    • www.pinnion.com  Company website o Embedded survey o Link to survey o Pop-up survey  e-Commerce or sales site o Embedded survey on confirmation page o Link to survey on confirmation page o Pop-up survey after sale is complete  Blog  Twitter link  Facebook o Link to survey o Embedded into a Facebook app Figure 7 - Pinnion has been designed to help you reach your customers wherever they are  Email linkJust as we encouraged you to consider the abilities of your survey provider to offer customerengagement capabilities, we suggest you take a close look at the ways in which surveys can bedistributed through your provider or platform. If you are using a web link to distribute your surveys viaemail, Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere else, be sure to test the link on your own smartphone to ensurethat it’s easy to view and complete even on a small screen. After all, if your customer attempts to takethe survey on their smartphone and is frustrated by the experience, what is the chance that he or shewill remember to come back and try again from the home computer? Chances are, the opinions fromthat customer are gone for good. Key Point – The Where of Surveys: Even if you are communicating with customers via email, those emails are being read more-and-more on mobile devices. iPhone surveys and Android surveys will become commonplace as smartphones and tablets begin to replace the PC in many households. 19
    • Customer Opinion and Audience Response When? It probably won’t surprise you to find out that two guys who work atHere are some ideas for a survey company think that you should do surveys all the time. Notscheduling your surveys literally, of course, as no customer wants to provide you withover a period of time: feedback every day or even every week. The trick is to let themCould you do a monthly know that you are always willing to listen, then give them thesurvey series, in which opportunity to share their opinions at a place and time that iseach survey is tied to an convenient for them. Mobile devices and website embeds make itupcoming holiday or salesevent? possible to offer your customers a feedback mechanism that is quite visible when it’s needed, yet subtle enough to avoid the annoyanceIf you are able to and spam concerns that come with email surveys.incorporate trivia or othergames into your survey, If you were hoping for a more specific answer than “always,” don’tthen how about a daily worry. A 2004 study actually found that the best time to send ansurvey series that yourcustomers can play and online survey is Wednesday morning, when it was observed thatrespond to during their half again as many individuals responded than at any other time ofcommute? the week (Faught, Green, & Whitten, 2004). On the other hand, aOr, you might decide to 2001 study found that the specific time of the week may not matterrun one survey for mobile as much as the amount of time that has passed since the customer’scustomers in long last transaction. That’s because customer perceptions varymonths, another for throughout the year and are generally higher right after a servicewebsite visitors during has been used than they are a month later (ONeill & Palmer, 2001).short months, and aFacebook survey that issegmented by age group Key Point – The When of Surveys: O’Neill & Palmerin advance of a major found that year-around surveying increases reliability when measuring customer opinion, because doing so will smoothproduct launch. out variable perceptions over time. 20
    • www.pinnion.comYou have almost limitless opportunities to make your surveys engaging and interactive throughout theyear. Keep that in mind, review your marketing and customer engagement goals, and then consider howsurveys, polls, quizzes, and games can be used on a constant basis to stay connected with yourcustomers. 21
    • Customer Opinion and Audience Response How?Can you believe it? You’re almost there! Now that we’ve gone over all of the “Ws” for your survey, wejust have the big H left: How? This is where we tie everything together and get your first surveyprepared. Don’t worry: it won’t be your last!Way back in the Why section, when we considered the reasons for doing a survey in the first place, youidentified a “past experience or upcoming situation” that you wanted to ask your customers about. Youprobably have a hunch about the type of feedback that you will receive, so you’re doing the survey inorder to investigate whether your hunch is accurate. This is called “hunch verification,” whichoccasionally gets a bad rap. But, when you think about it, this is a pretty close parallel to the scientificprocess. Replace “hunch” with “hypothesis” and there you go.You’ll need specific questions in order to test the hypothesis. How many questions? There is no hard-and-fast rule, so the best advice is simply to make sure that every question is serving a purpose byproviding actionable data or by increasing engagement. Come up with as many questions as you canthink of or as many as you think you will need, then begin editing them down until you’ve created asurvey full of questions that you know you will need. For example, you may think it would be interestingto ask each respondent for his or her age range. But, if the decision makers aren’t going to segment theresults by age when they consider the data, then there’s no need to collect that information this timearound.That said, if you’re having trouble coming up with a list of potential questions, here are some ideas thatmay help with your brainstorming:  Ask some questions of your employees, such as: o “What have you been hearing from our customers lately?” o “Have you heard any comments from the new customers?”  Find a situation where you can physically observe your customers  Review the company mission statement o Or, for your own company, write down the biggest, bedrock assumptions on which you built the business  Are there any financial trends you’d like to understand better?  In a service business, how has the tip money been? Are tips up or down?  If all else fails, start with broad questions o The question “would you recommend us to your friends?” by itself is extremely important. 22
    • www.pinnion.comYou’ll probably come up with plenty of questions once you’ve taken a few of the steps listed above.Answer optionsOnce you’ve got your questions narrowed down, you’ll want to create answer options for the multiplechoice questions and determine the order in which the questions will be asked. Let’s review someexamples of the various structures that are available for survey questions:Dichotomous If this were a quiz, then the answer would be Yes. “Dichotomous” simply refers to a choice between two options, such as Yes/No or True/False. These questions are quick and easy to answer, but their black-or-white nature doesn’t always provide the level of detail that you may want or need.Multiple choice A multiple choice question presents the respondent with several answer options. There will be some times when you want the respondent to choose only one answer option and others when you will want to allow them to choose multiple answers together. Your survey software should allow this, but you may need to include a note such as “Please select all that apply” or “Please select two options.” 23
    • Customer Opinion and Audience ResponseRating scales – Likert and Semantic Differential The Likert scale asks the respondent to indicate the degree to which they agree or disagree with a statement. You can have five or seven options and the scale can be “fully anchored” or “end anchored.” The example here is fully anchored, in that each number on the scale has a text description to go along with it (Options 2 and 4 are hidden). An end anchored scale would only have text for the first and last options, leaving the weight of the middle numbers a little more open to interpretation by the respondent. The same rules for Likert scales apply to Semantic Differential scales. The difference is that semantic differential scales don’t ask the respondent to agree or disagree, they ask for a choice to be made amongst contrasting options (Options 2 and 3 are hidden). 24
    • www.pinnion.comImage select A multiple choice or semantic differential question can be set-up as an image select question, where the respondent is asked to choose from the pictures presented. This can be more fun than reading and choosing words, while also conveying information more clearly in some situations. Keep in mind that images used in a semantic differential question need to show a clear difference between the positive and negative options. Be sure to pre-test your survey so that others can tell you if the pictures are as clear as you think they are.Demographic A demographic question is any question in which you request personal information about the respondent, such as age, gender, home address, zip code. Demographic questions should normally be asked towards the end of your survey so that your respondent has had time to get comfortable with the questions that you are asking before having to answer anything of a personal nature (McDaniel & Gates, 2008, p. 307). An exception is when demographics are used to eliminate ineligible respondents. For instance, if the survey is intended only for adults 25 or older, an age range question may need to be presented at the very beginning of the survey. 25
    • Customer Opinion and Audience ResponseSkip logic and branching As we mentioned in the Who section, it’s important to automate your survey so that each individual only sees questions that are relevant to him or her. This can be achieved by using skip logic to determine which questions should be shown to which respondents. In this example, which is based on the Multiple Choice question we showed you on Page 23, it only makes sense to ask about specific communities on the island of Maui if the respondent has indicated a desire to travel to that location. You can see the logic in the screen shot above. Those individuals whose answers match that logic will see the question shown to the left. 26
    • www.pinnion.comText piping The last question that we looked at included four possible locations on the island of Maui, plus one option for those who aren’t sure where they would want to stay and one option for those who plan to stay in another town. For the next question, we are going to use skip logic again and introduce a new concept: text piping. Text piping takes an earlier answer and makes it part of the question. In this screenshot, we use the placeholder [PIPETEXT] to hold a spot for the answer text. You can see the result below: the words “I don’t know” have been carried over from the previous question. “Other” would appear if that answer had been selected instead. And, the question would be skipped entirely if neither of these options were chosen. You can combine Skip Logic and Text Piping to make surveys that are very efficient and highly personalized. This helps to ensure that each question is relevant to each respondent. It also makes it easier for your customers to provide accurate data, since there is less room for errors and misunderstandings.Note: Please see the Bibliography entries for Flagg, Shapiro, and Walonick to learn more about surveyquestion formats. Their information was helpful as we developed this section of the book. 27
    • Customer Opinion and Audience ResponseDistribution optionsYour survey has been written, tested, and refined. You’re ready to present it to your customers and startcollecting their opinions. Uh-oh. How are you going to reach your customers so that they know you areseeking their input?If you already communicate with your members or customers online, such as via email, then that samemethod may be a good option for sending your survey. However, many brick-and-mortar businessesmay not have any contact information for their customers. Even if you have some customer data, suchas addresses and phone numbers, it’s possible that you won’t have the information you need todistribute an online survey as quickly as you had hoped. When Barry worked in the electric utilityindustry, he heard from utilities who struggled to collect customer opinions online because they had noway to reach their customers aside from snail mail or the phone.The good news is that social media is helping to overcome this issue. Even those customers who refusedto share their email address may be following your organization on Facebook or Twitter. And,announcing your survey through these channels may help you to find new customers or to gain insightsfrom customers who have not previously shared their opinions with you. Your website can be anothersource of opinions, so your survey should be prominently embedded on or linked from your web site.What’s that? Your organization doesn’t have a website? Or, it’s not on Facebook or Twitter? Then putthis book down and go fix those problems immediately. Customers today expect to find you in onlineand in social media as much as a customer two decades ago would have expected to find you in theYellow Pages. These outlets are not optional anymore.You’ll want to consider how your survey provider works on mobile devicesand whether it’s possible to take advantage of the notification system that isbuilt into many types of smartphones. These notifications can alert theowner of the phone to all sorts of new items, such as text messages, emails,sports scores, and weather forecasts. Why not alert them to the fact thatyou need their opinion, too? Alerts come in many forms, from silent to loudand from subtle to intrusive. Avoid annoying your customers by ensuring Figure 8 - This iPhone notification badge showsthat your survey app allows for each individual to adjust notifications to her that two new Pinnion surveys are availableor his liking. 28
    • www.pinnion.comThe most common form of distributing an online survey is by providing a simple Web Link. This is aneasy option because the link can easily be pasted into all sorts of places: email, Facebook, Twitter,newsletters, your web site, blog, press releases, etc. The list goes on and on. The good news is that aWeb Link is a simple way to quickly distribute your survey in as many ways as possible for maximumdistribution. On the downside, it may be difficult or impossible to know much about the individuals whoresponded to your survey. And, a web link does very little to build a relationship with respondents –click, answer, done, forgotten.That’s why most survey providers offer you at least one other way of getting your survey out into theworld. SurveyMonkey, for example, provides an internal email service. You upload your contact list intotheir system and it automatically sends a personalized email to each individual on the list. Instead of ageneric web link, each person’s email contains a unique, trackable link so that you will know whoresponded, who didn’t, and when each response arrived.At Pinnion, we have a concept called Channels for distributing surveys. Your customers can subscribe toyour channel(s) – you might have a generic channel for your organization or several channels designedto reach different segments – and then be notified whenever a new survey is available in that channel. A channel can also be discovered by new individuals with an interest in the product or services offered by your business. Another downside of web links is that they take your respondent away from whatever it was she was doing before she decided to take your survey. If Christine the consumer is working her way through a purchase on your site, the last thing that Figure 9 – Web page embeds are eye-catching and allow the survey to be you want to do is have her answered directly, without having to navigate to another website 29
    • Customer Opinion and Audience Responseclick out of that process for any reason. Research has shown that an individual who is interrupted whileproceeding through the flow of a webpage is less likely to complete the purchase or even to return tothe site (Hausman & Siekpe, 2009). You’ve probably experienced this firsthand while surfing the web.Therefore, try to display your survey in an embed, widget, popup (the friendly kind, not the annoyingkind), or app that will keep your respondents on the same page while they provide their opinions.Christine’s focus may shift to the survey while she completes it – in fact, we hope that she gives thesurvey her complete attention – but she’ll be right back where she started as soon as the process iscomplete. What’s more, the user can actually see the introduction to the survey and/or the firstquestion, which is more likely than a link to draw the user’s eye to your content.Here are some distribution options to consider when researching survey providers:  Generic web link o Non-personalized o Can be pasted into any email or program o Can be forwarded to other individuals.  Personalized web link o Includes a tracking code that links the survey response back to the recipient. o Cannot be forwarded to other individuals.  Mobile web link o The link itself may not be any different from the ones above, but it should lead to a “mobile-friendly” interface on small screens. o Make sure that your survey provider automatically adjusts for proper screen size.  Embed/popup code or widget o Uses iFrames or Javascript to actually place your survey content into a webpage  Facebook app o Allows your survey content to appear on your organization’s Facebook page and in your followers’ News Feeds.  Mobile app o Displays your surveys within an iPhone or Android app (you may also consider versions for Windows Phone and/or BlackBerry devices). o Ideal choice when your organization has multiple surveys open at the same time. o Apps can notify the individual whenever new surveys are available (although the individual may choose to turn the notifications off).  Survey site o Pinnion Channel Pages are dedicated to gathering user opinions. o These sites pull new individuals to your survey (and your organization).  Reverses the traditional model of pushing surveys only to those individuals who are already familiar with your organization 30
    • www.pinnion.com ConclusionLet’s take another look at the key points we tried to convey in each section of this book:  Why: Surveys are now a form of content that can provide value back to your customers  Who: Customers and colleagues need well-written surveys for quality feedback and decisions  What: Structured communication creates usable data  Where: All online surveys are now mobile surveys, too.  When: Collecting feedback throughout the year will increase the reliability of your data  How: Combine the right answer options with proper distribution to make a great surveyMost of all, keep it simple. We said at the beginning of the book that surveys should be a snapshot –they don’t need to cost thousands of dollars and they don’t need to take hours to create or complete.Keep your goals in mind, remember to always ask “Why” first, and then have fun creating surveys thatinform you while entertaining your customers.We look forward to hearing about your experiences. Please share your questions and feedback with us:Pinnion page at FacebookBill’s Twitter accountContact Us page at pinnion.com 31
    • Customer Opinion and Audience Response About UsBill Leath is the president of Pinnion, a Seattle-based startup with a platform that anyone can use inorder to create multiple-choice questionnaires such as surveys, trivia games, polls, and quizzes. Alifelong entrepreneur, Bill holds a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Washingtonand currently resides in Seattle.Learn more about BillBarry Fuchs is a marketing contractor with Pinnion and has authored countless membership surveysduring his career in the association industry. Barry holds a M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communicationsfrom West Virginia University and currently resides in Seattle.Learn more about Barry 32
    • www.pinnion.comBibliographycomScore, Inc. (2011, December 29). comScore Reports November 2011 U.S. Mobile Subscriber Market Share. Retrieved January 20, 2012, from Press Release: http://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Press_Releases/2011/12/comScore_Reports_Novemb er_2011_U.S._Mobile_Subscriber_Market_SharecomScore, Inc. (2012, January 9). U.S. Mobile Email Audience Grows by Nearly 20 Million Users in the Past Year. Retrieved January 20, 2011, from comScore Data Mine: http://www.comscoredatamine.com/2012/01/u-s-mobile-email-audience-grows-by-nearly-20- million-users-in-the-past-year/Faught, K. S., Green, K. W., & Whitten, D. (2004, Spring). DOING SURVEY RESEARCH ON THE INTERNET: YES, TIMING DOES MATTER. Retrieved January 20, 2012, from The Journal of Computer Information Systems: ABI/INFORM GlobalFlagg, R. (2011, September 28). Online Surveys. Retrieved January 18, 2012, from HowTo.Gov: http://www.howto.gov/customer-service/collecting-feedback/online-surveys-fact-sheet#test- surveyHausman, A. V., & Siekpe, J. S. (2009). The effect of web interface features on consumer online purchase intentions. Retrieved January 30, 2012, from Journal of Business Research, 62: ScienceDirect databaseIBM. (n.d.). IBM 805 Test Scoring Machine. Retrieved 20 2012, January, from IBM Archives: http://www- 03.ibm.com/ibm/history/exhibits/specialprod1/specialprod1_9.htmlKang, C. (2011, July 11). As smartphones proliferate, some users are cutting the computer cord. Retrieved September 19, 2011, from The Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/a-smartphones-proliferate-some-users- are-cutting-the-computer-cord/2011/07/11/gIQA6ASi9H_story.html?hpid=z3Kohut, A. (2009, October 14). But What Do the Polls Show? Retrieved January 18, 2012, from PewResearchCenter Publications: http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1379/polling-history-influence- policymaking-politicsONeill, M., & Palmer, A. (2001). Survey timing and consumer perceptions of service quality: An overview of empirical evidence. Retrieved January 20, 2012, from Managing Service Quality; 11,3: ABI/INFORM GlobalPeltz, J. (2012, January 8). For some consumers, surveys breed feedback fatigue. Retrieved January 16, 2012, from AP News: The Orange County Register: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_FEEDBACK_FATIGUE?SITE=CAANR&SECTION=HOM E&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT 33
    • Customer Opinion and Audience ResponseShapiro, G. M. (2008). Sample Size. Retrieved January 17, 2012, from Encyclopedia of Survey Research Methods: SAGE Reference OnlineSheetz. (n.d.). Our Menu. Retrieved January 19, 2011, from Sheetz.com: http://www.sheetz.com/main/food/menu.cfmWalonick, D. S. (2004). Survival Statistics. Retrieved May 2, 2010, from StatPac, Inc.: http://www.statpac.com/surveys/surveys.pdf 34