Survey Best Practices, Part 1: Designing Your Survey

June 10, 2014

by Elizabeth Snyder

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Surveys will help you improve your firm’s service and increase revenue.

Surveys are a powerful tool for collecting feedback from your clients and other trusted professionals who regularly interact with your firm. They not only serve as a great platform to measure satisfaction or dissatisfaction with your services or products, but they are also an excellent way to expand your personal relationships with your clients. By surveying your clients, you are demonstrating that you value their opinions and are invested in creating a better experience for those who interact with your firm.

Surveys can also contribute to higher revenues. A white paper published by Cetera Financial Group and the international consulting firm Business Health found that advisors who formally ask clients to complete satisfaction surveys generate 31% more revenue on average than peers who do not solicit feedback.

If you are not accustomed to regularly surveying your clients, here are some basic guidelines to consider when it comes to survey design, layout and structure. If you are in the market for an online survey tool, FluidSurveys, SurveyGizmo and SurveyMonkey are some good platforms to consider.

Survey design matters

When designing your survey, address the format and layout. A poorly organized survey may cause respondents to skip questions or even prevent people from completing it at all. View your survey as consisting of three separate sections, each of equal importance: the introduction, the body and the conclusion.

Introducing your survey

The very beginning of your survey should explain its purpose as well as why your client or contact is being asked to complete it. People will want to know how the data being collected will be used and whether their personal information will be kept confidential. The chances of someone completing your survey will improve if they are given assurances that their responses will remain confidential. Also, it should be very clear whom the survey is coming from, so state your firm name in the introduction.

One detail that many people fail to include is a time estimate that clearly indicates how long the survey might take. If your survey uses complex navigation, include instructions at the end of your introduction so the respondent understands how to complete the survey with relative ease. Finally, if you decide to offer an incentive for completing the survey, such as a gift certificate, be sure to follow through. Nothing is worse than empty promises, especially as they relate to your trusted and loyal clientele.

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