5 Tips for Maximizing Public Relations Survey Results
The art of implementing customer surveys takes time to perfect. Not only do you have to motivate your audience to take the first place in the survey, but once the results are out, it’s your job to analyse the data and make changes for the better. But once you understand this, you’ll find that regular surveys can be an invaluable tool for uncovering areas of improvement that you may have overlooked.
1. Keep them brief and unique
If your survey is too long, your customers are likely to skim them, provide false information, or ignore them altogether. Surveys should be as sharp and concise as possible. Many a times, I have seen people ask about the general level of service satisfaction. First, you need to understand why you’re taking those surveys, and exactly what decisions you’re trying to make. Are you trying to prioritize resources among features? Ask about this. Do you want to run the engagement? Then ask about user behavior and how they engage with your product.
2. Use the results to start a conversation about what to do next
One of the most powerful parts of a survey is the conversation that happens after the results are returned. You can run an exhaustive survey, generate beautiful reports, but you won’t be able to maximize value without post-survey conversations.
In fact, especially with employee surveys, if you run a survey but don’t produce feedback results and act, there’s a good chance you’ll have a negative impact on engagement. This is because employees will feel that they have wasted their time and that you are not taking them seriously.
The conversation should not be complicated or so long that it gets in the way of enacting actions. As a leader, focus on asking questions and listening to results. Ask something like “This is what I understand from the results, is this correct?” or “This result surprised me, can you help me understand it better?”
3. Look for the big picture and root causes, don’t get lost in the details
Surveys will give you a lot of data. 100 employees completing 100 questions gives you 10,000 data points, and that’s before you look at all the aggregated, sliced, and diced results across the various respondent groups, and before you even look at the text-based responses. It will often feel like too much. To get the most out of survey results, focus on the big picture. You will need to dig into detail to better understand some of the results in a nutshell. But don’t stay there, keep returning to the bigger themes that are backed by multiple points of data, and explore the root causes behind any significant problems you find. Don’t fall for any one number or one comment. Look for patterns and consistency in feedback.
4. Be laser-focused and develop a set of specific actions
The idea of resolving five rather than one problem raised by a survey feels better. Effectively implemented one action can produce more value than five unsourced, unmonitored, and uncompleted actions. Clients who come up with more than three actions from a survey make me nervous.
Generally speaking, you’ll have to spend more time and resources to solve each problem you identify than you originally anticipated. Be realistic and kind to yourself. You can solve three, two, or maybe even just one problem if you have the courage. We often observe that when organizations solve a particular problem exceptionally well, other tasks also improve unexpectedly.
5. Refine, communicate, and repeat with regularity
Instead of looking at surveys as an endpoint, consider them as a cycle. The fact that you have taken actions doesn’t mean that you’ve finished. Project management should be a part of these actions, as progress needs to be reviewed regularly. We’ve had the most successful organizations use survey results in conjunction with all other key performance indicators when they are planning and making critical decisions throughout the year. The companies will regularly inform employees and customers that they’ve acted based on what they said. Without these communications, respondents may not feel that their feedback was heard, valued, and acted upon.
Once you are confident that you have made significant progress, go back out and do another survey. One survey per year can fit into the business cycle, and the results of the survey can be displayed in conjunction with your other yearly KPIs. This assures leaders of their accountability for driving change. Especially agile organizations may be able to do more frequent surveys, perhaps with occasional pulse surveys in between big surveys. The principle here is to determine when to go back out and survey again based on how fast you can achieve change.
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