I’m a believer that a part of leadership is to be forever balancing dueling tensions. Expert vs Learner. Constant vs Adaptable. Open vs Focused. To name some of them.
You can either do this by delegating each into separate actions. Or sometimes build both tensions into one activity.
And one activity where we need to balance tensions is in our customer survey design.
Yes, you need to be clear up front when designing the survey what you are seeking to find out. Customer surveys help validate your assumptions. A survey of totally open questions doesn’t often lead to actionable insights. Or at least none that are digestible by a human quickly. It might take too much analysis to see trends.
Yet you also need to be open to having your assumptions not validated. You need to be open to hearing what customers are saying, even if it contradicts what you think or believe.
So, how do you do that. I believe in a couple of ways.
The most common way is to have both qualitative and quantitative questions in the survey. You see that a lot. First a question that is a ranking question or an option selection. Then a freeform box that asks for an explanation.
The first allows you to confirm your assumptions. The second gives you more information about the answers. You might not read every qualitative question. Though you might drill down on the outliers to see if there is anything trending in the answers.
It might be something you aren’t expecting. Or maybe you drill down to hear more from the ones who confirmed your assumption. To grow your understanding of your ideal customer that answers that way. The point is with different kinds of questions you get a fuller picture.
Another way is to build the dueling tensions into what you are measuring by applying context. Decide on the purpose or metric you are measuring. Then also measure something that tells you about the opposite. For example, an NPS survey it might give you a high score for promoters. But if you also measure number of responses and that is low, it might make you question the score or your survey segmentation.
Depending on the length of your survey you can present questions that ask the question one way, and then reframe it differently in another question. We’ve all seen that on personality tests. People sometimes are sensitive to how a question is worded and are more truthful if its worded differently. For example. Ask someone if they would recommend you to a friend. Then ask them if they also buy from a competitor.
The point is to make your customer surveys rich and do them on a regular basis. Often people are afraid of using surveys. They think customers will be put off by being asked questions too often. You might be surprised. It might be a wrong assumption about your audience!
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