Want Quick Feedback? Take a Poll

Whether your fashion blog begs the question, “Who wore it best?” or your customer service forum is interested to know, “Was this helpful?” embedded polls are a great way to get quick feedback about a single topic.

Like many of the other features in our platform, the Poll feature uses a simple wizard design that practically holds your hand through the process of embedding a poll into your blog or website. It really couldn’t be any easier.

However don’t confuse “easy” with “simple.”  Our Poll feature is incredibly powerful.  In just a few quick steps, your custom poll can be translated into several languages and matched to your company’s site. You can even display the results to participants immediately after they submit their responses.

Not only does a well-positioned poll help you gather valuable feedback, it also lets your customers know that you care about what they think. The more easily customers can interact with your website, the more likely they are to come back.

How Effective is Your Social Media Strategy?

According to several new studies, companies are not communicating effectively with their customers through Twitter or Facebook.  Jan Rezab with Econsultancy Digital Marketers United writes  about a study that clearly shows,  on average, businesses respond just 5% of the time when customers pose questions on popular social media sites.

Maintaining active communication not only strengthens the relationship between consumer and retailer, it also improves brand equity in the public eye.  Nothing sends a stronger message to the consumer than a company willing to stand behind their product and provide an open channel of communication and feedback.  There’s a common misconception that all a company needs to be social in the digital age is a Facebook page and a Twitter account.   Not so, say many researchers.  The truth is that  companies have to go beyond that first step and begin responding to those who show interest in their brand.

Nowadays, companies spend a lot of money attracting and luring new customers.   Interestingly, consumers have actually become companies’ biggest brand ambassadors.  I remember a time when identifying with a top retailer was considered selling out.  This paradigm shift has put companies in a position that most do not seem to be managing well.

As business owners, some of the most valuable  information we can glean from social media is consumer perception of our brand, products or services.  The advent of technology has given us a platform to not only gauge feedback, but to have a direct line of communication with our end users.  The moment our constituents  feel wronged, technology  allows us to  instantly and immediately reach out.

Maritz Research surveyed an online panel of just under 1,300 U.S. consumers who use their Twitter accounts to communicate about products, services and companies.   Nearly half of the respondents expected the companies to read their tweets, but only one-third received   a company response to a tweeted complaint.  Of the remaining two-thirds who did not receive feedback, an overwhelming 86% would have “liked or loved” to get some type of company response.

The message is clear and well-received by forward-thinking  organizations such as Dell.  The result is a stronger allegiance to brands, increased sales and the best kind of marketing a company can buy — an army of brand ambassadors.

How May I (Not) Help You?

A few Fridays ago, a friend and I made plans to meet at a local restaurant for a few games of pool after work. I knew this place sometimes closed the pool table rooms for private events, so I called ahead to make sure the tables would be available that night.

Me:  “Hi. I just want to make sure there’s no private event tonight and the pool tables will be open.”

Employee:  “They’re open now.”

(It’s 12:30 on a Friday afternoon.)

Me :  “Hmm. Well, I’m at work now.  I’m calling to see if they’ll be available tonight.”

Employee:   “I don’t know.”

Me:  “Could you maybe [hate to inconvenience her] . . .   find out?”

Everyone has a frustrating customer service story where you’re left wondering if the company is purposely trying to drive away business. Conversely, customer service that goes beyond expectations can turn around a bad experience.

For example, my teenage son loves going to a certain restaurant even though the kitchen almost always messes up our order, and we have to wait a really long time to get our food. But, without fail, the manager comes to our table, apologizes profusely and gives us a free appetizer or dessert. The last time we ate there, the kitchen once again had to remake my order. But, this time, the manager insisted on comping not just that one dish, but our entire bill. This restaurant obviously has a systemic problem in its kitchen, but their outstanding customer service is what stays foremost in my mind.

As part of Zarca’s marketing team, I often speak to clients about their experiences using our online survey software. Yes, they love our advanced features and flexible pricing and real-time reporting. But what I hear over and over is how impressed our clients are with our customer service.

Whether they are signing a contract with our sales team, training on the platform with our account managers or troubleshooting with our technical support staff, here’s what our clients are saying:

“Extremely helpful.”

“Beyond professional.”

“Always quick to respond.”

We could have the most innovative, cutting-edge online survey platform in the world (and — admittedly biased — I believe we do), but apathetic, discourteous customer service could instantly trump all the hard work of our design team.

So remember to put as much energy into the client-facing side of your business as you put into your product or service. One positive or negative experience may be all it takes to win or lose a valuable customer.

Customer Satisfaction vs. Customer Loyalty

By successfully leveraging social media, today’s businesses are able to communicate directly with their customers on a much larger scale than ever before.

Social media like Facebook, Twitter and blogs keep businesses in constant contact with their customers. The only downside to most social media sites is a lack of dialogue. So the question becomes, “What do my customers think of my business?”

For more than a decade, customer satisfaction indicators have been a great way for any sized business to understand how their customers are feeling.

But are satisfied customers enough?

Surveys on satisfaction may yield results that show a high percentage of “Completely Satisfied” customers. However, a survey of the same group can often show an alarming percentage of customers who would be willing to purchase the same service from a different provider.

In “The Customer Satisfaction Survey Snag,” Bloomberg Businessweek’s Kevin Poyne says that a new scale is needed to measure customer loyalty. In Poyne’s scale, satisfaction becomes the midpoint. Satisfied customers may have no complaints, but will they remain loyal to your business?

A higher rating would be, “Better than I could expect from another provider.” This rating begins to imply loyalty.

Of course, it should be noted, that studies have also shown that in tough economic times (i.e., now) customers are likely to reduce their own “total satisfaction” in favor of “purely the lowest price.”

According to Poyne, the ultimate test of loyalty — the willingness to tell friends — should be the top rating: “This was so great I will mention it in conversation later today.”

Companies that are able to create and maintain satisfied and loyal customers stand a much better chance of survival. Those who strive for satisfaction alone may be fighting a losing battle.

Battle of the Features: Branching vs. Question Display Logic

In a platform as robust as Zarca’s, with a breadth of features not available in most online survey solutions, we occasionally encounter a question about “redundant features.”  This question often arises with respect to my two favorite features — Branching and Question Display Logic.  While these features may be similar in concept, they each perform distinct functions, giving the survey creator an opportunity to enhance surveys in unique ways.


Branching, also known as Skip Logic, is a feature that allows survey creators to determine the questions that participants should and should not see based on previously answered questions.  For example, if a survey contains a question about the highest level of education you have achieved and you respond by stating you earned a bachelor’s degree, you should not be prompted with additional questions about the experience of receiving a doctorate.  Branching ensures that participants do not have to see questions that are not applicable to their circumstances. This further ensures that the survey creator will receive the best data possible.

When implementing the Branching feature, the survey creator must direct the participant from one survey page to another.  Based on how a participant answers a question on one page, he/she may be directed to another page for a series of follow-up questions.  For this reason, we say that Branching is “page-to-page dynamic.”

Question Display Logic

Question Display Logic (QDL) is similar to Branching in concept because it allows the survey creator to display certain questions based on how participants respond to preceding questions. Unlike Branching, however, QDL is not page-to-page dynamic.  With QDL, the follow-up question will pop up on the same page.  For example, if a survey contains a question asking the participant to rate the quality of a conference, and the participant selects “Poor,” the QDL feature can prompt a text box to appear immediately below the original question. The participant can then offer additional feedback and further explain their selection.

When survey creators ask me, “Which feature should I use?” I share the following tip:  If you are asking multiple follow-up questions that are best placed on a page by themselves, use Branching.  If, however, you are simply looking for a simple response to a single follow-up question, use Question Display Logic.

Happy surveying!

Survey as Dialogue

Taking a survey often feels like taking a test.  They both follow the same format — a long list of questions requiring you to select the “right” or “best” answer from among several options.  In this way, the survey and the test both reveal what the participant knows; however, they do little to expand the relationship.  I think surveys need be more interesting and stimulating so the participant feels comfortable answering honestly and providing candid feedback.

Surveys need to be a part of the dialogue between the group doing the survey (e.g., corporate leadership) and the community being surveyed (e.g., employees and customers).

What is a dialogue? Simply put, it is a two-way exchange of ideas.  Unfortunately, traditional surveys are more of a one-way street, with information flowing directly from those who are surveyed to those who are surveying.   To truly make surveys feel like they are part of a dialogue,  essential information — background, issues and concerns about the topics — must be covered, plus surveyors must always ask for input.  Such a two-way exchange engages the participant, thereby removing the survey-as-a-test scenario.

Consider a company that is updating employee policies.  A common exercise is to survey employees concerning their views about policy changes.  A typical question might include:

  • Do you support the proposed policy concerning employee vacations?

To make the survey a dialogue, however, it should include information in the form of questions that provide the background and rational for the policy change.  For the current example, respondents might be informed through these types of survey questions:

  • Did you know that last year we lost X% of our clients due to slow responses at certain times during the year?
  • Did you know that during critical periods around the holidays the company was severely understaffed, which slowed our response times?
  • Did you know that the proposed policy would increase opportunities for staff vacations at other times during the year?

Using this method, information flows from the company leaders to the employees through question content. Employees are giving feedback about the current conditions, as well as voicing their opinions about the new policy.  It is also essential that at least one open (written) response question is included, so that employees have the opportunity to express their views independently of the rest of the survey content.  This will further increase the value of the survey and help build crucial relationships with employees and customers.