Grow my business

How to grow your business by using free online surveys

Your customers are a valuable source of insights that can guide your future business plans. However, research shows that customers are more likely to leave a negative review, with only one in 10 satisfied customers sharing their experience. Use online surveys to request anonymous customer feedback and achieve a more complete view of how customers view your business.  

Many online questionnaire options can be used seamlessly with your business ecosystem. Follow these guidelines to develop an online survey that will garner meaningful feedback from customers: 

Use existing data to identify potential topic areas for your questionnaire. 

Your online survey will serve two primary purposes: gathering information and giving your customers a voice. You likely have a laundry list of questions, but determining what customers want to discuss may prove more challenging. Identify customer-centric topics by: 

  • Reading social media reviews and looking for trends. 
  • Finding out what people are saying about your competitors. 
  • Asking customer-facing staff to share feedback they’ve received. 
  • Being your own customer—would you be satisfied with your organization’s service and communications?  

Get the information you need from customers with simple, focused survey questions. 

Now that you know what you want to learn, it’s time to develop your questions. Use these tips for writing a stronger online survey: 

  • Keep it short. Around five questions can provide ample information without deterring customers. 
  • Provide an estimated completion time at the top (for example, “this survey should take five minutes to complete”). 
  • Use simple, clear language. 
  • Include a “prefer not to answer” option for demographic questions. 
  • Ask measurable questions (for example, “on a scale of 1 to 5” or “from very unlikely to extremely likely”). 
  • Use consistent formatting and language. Conclude your survey with an open-text question for customers to share additional feedback. 

An example of how a survey would look like.

Evaluate new survey tools for your company. 

Many free survey tools are available on the web, each with varying degrees of customization and analytical capabilities. Most will integrate seamlessly into your business toolbox. Therefore, selecting a survey tool really comes down to personal choice. Consider the following: 

  • Can it accommodate multiple question formats?  
  • Are there limits on the number of surveys and/or respondents? 
  • How easy is it to create/design the survey end to end? 
  • Does the final survey look professional and easy to complete? 
  • How easy is it to analyze and organize the information you collected? 
  • Can you personalize the survey to your company’s branding? 

Use existing survey tools to promote participation in your survey.  

Ideally, customers will provide feedback within two or three days of visiting your business or completion of a service, when the experience is still fresh in their minds. Statistically, only a small fraction will respond, however. Making your survey readily available in a visible but unobtrusive way is critical to driving response. Use resources already in your toolkit to publicize your survey by: 

  • Including the URL in email correspondence (such as receipts, shipping notices, and newsletters). 
  • Sending a survey invite to customers via text (if they have opted into text communications). 
  • Posting a link to your survey in your social media descriptions. 
  • Embedding the survey directly in your business website or adding a link in the footer (bottom) of the home page. 
  • Responding to online reviews of your business and including a link to the survey in your signature line. 

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Your customers are vital to the success for your business. A well-written survey can play a significant role in identifying what’s working well and areas that may need attention. Find free online survey tools and resources that work for your organization and allow you to use customer feedback to grow your business.  

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Business Insights and Ideas does not constitute professional tax or financial advice. You should contact your own tax or financial professional to discuss your situation..