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Let’s Survey Like It’s 1999

Let’s Survey like it’s 1999

What were you doing in 1999?

How many Tweets did you send each day? How many friends did you have on Facebook?  What was your favorite app?  How many selfies did you share?

The world has changed in incredible ways since 1999. If somebody from 1999 time-traveled to today she wouldn’t recognize the many ways we instantly communicate and give continuous feedback to others around the world.  How we share and give advice instantly through texts and videos and messaging.  We always know where we stand and whether our voice was heard and whether it made a difference.  Our time-traveler would not recognize all the tools we use to provide feedback.

Except for one.  The one that hasn’t changed since 1999: Our surveys. 

If our 1999 visitor could still log into her old AOL account, no doubt she would soon find a survey in her inbox.  And the text on that email would look exactly like it did in 1999:  “...thank you for taking time to fill out the survey, please take 10 minutes to help us approve our products and services…”

The same instructions she saw in 1999.

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Perhaps when she clicked the link to see the survey form she’d pause to say, “Gee, now they have pretty surveys with a blue background.  And look, the radio buttons are large and cartoonish now!”

But that would be it for the great advances in surveys since 1999.  All the CONTENT would be the same, right?

  • Questions about things can’t be changed anyway
  • Questions that don’t include the choice she wanted
  • Response scales that don’t match the question
  • Multiple “next” buttons that annoy everyone
  • Unfocused comment boxes yielding irrelevant unrepresentative answers

And the OUTCOME would be the same.  When she submitted the survey the confirmation page would say exactly the same thing it said in 1999:  “Your responses have been received“.  And that’s it.  No further communication.  No indication of how her responses compared to others.  No word about how her responses made a difference.

Are your surveys still living in 1999?  Or are they consistent with the world in which we live in, asking bite-sized important questions in a conversational way, and “closing-the-loop” with those who took the time to fill it out, letting them know how their feedback was specifically used and how they compared to others?  Maybe that’s why you have such low response rates.

I know you care about your customers, members, and clients.  And you need to get inside their heads to learn what they need and want and expect so you can deliver and over deliver. But you sure aren’t going to do it using survey practices from 1999. Review your surveys and evaluation forms with this in mind.

Tune in to The 4 Minute Entrepreneur for practical advice you can quickly apply.  Stay successful my friend. / Doc

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