Personalized vs. Anonymous Surveys

The Internet has allowed users to become connected to all forms of media in an unprecedented and personal way.  For example, Google knows the sites that I visit most frequently and, therefore, caters to my tastes with its search results.

Unfortunately, the Internet also provides a level of anonymity that can lead users in a dangerous direction. If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, check out the “Comments” section of any major news piece available online. Granting folks anonymity encourages candor, but it can also create a host of other problems.

So when you’re creating an online survey, should you offer anonymity?

Unfortunately, the answer is, “It depends.”

Each time that you create a survey, you must balance the pros and cons of anonymity with the impact of personalization. Here are a few things to consider before you launch an online, anonymous survey:

  • Full Candor from Respondents—Let’s be honest — respondents who feel “safer” knowing that you can’t identify them won’t be as inclined to hold back.
  • Response Rates—If respondents fear some form of retribution will follow the submission of their survey, they are likely to skip it completely.
  • Identity Protection—Studies have suggested that most drop-outs occur on survey pages that ask for personal information, such as demographics and email addresses. Many respondents fear that their sensitive information could be sold to marketing companies.
  • Inappropriate Responses—There’s always the chance that a bad apple will take your survey and use it as an occasion for vulgarity, bigotry, etc. Anonymity can increase this risk.
  • Ability for Follow-up—There may be times when responses will require further action on the part of the survey creator, whether to address a specific issue or adopt a certain policy.  Anonymous surveys make it impossible to follow-up to responses.
  • Reliability of Results—While anonymity may encourage respondents to be more truthful in their responses, it can also encourage them to be less diligent in fact checking. Misinformation tends to spread far more easily through anonymous sources because accountability is impossible. However, highly personalized surveys may incur instances of what we call social desirability, respondents saying what they think the survey creator wants to hear.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could create personalized surveys that were also anonymous? You can.

Anonymous surveys can be pre-populated to make the survey personal for each respondent.  Also, Intelligent Reminders enable the survey creator to send reminders to non-respondents, even in an anonymous survey.

So when walking the line between personalization and anonymity, consider your audience, the data you’re collecting and, of course, what you want your survey to say about you.

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.

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.

Mama Always Said, “Box is Like a Life of Chocolates”

Did you ever have one of those moments when you have the exact, perfect thing to say — a hilarious quip, a snappy comeback, the answer to a Jeopardy question — but you get so excited to shout it out that when it leaves your lips the words fall out completely wrong. Don’t worry; it happens to me all the time.

If it’s just your friends who think you’re lame, that’s fine. But what about when your little mistake is sent to thousands of your colleagues, clients or prospects? Not as easy to say, “Oops.”

You can save yourself a lot of hassle just by taking the time to proofread your work. Unfortunately, proofreading is a lost art for two main reasons:

1. Spell Check — I’d argue that spell check has caused more embarrassing typos than it has saved. It’s a great feature but should not be used as a substitute for the old “once over.” Spell check won’t notice that you used the wrong “their” or missed a word, but other people will.

2. Haste — Reading and rereading takes time. So it really comes down to a simple question: Do you want it done now, or do you want it done right?

So slow down. Before you hit Send or (God forbid) “Reply All,” take a minute to check your work.  Remember, the Zarca platform includes a built-in spell check, plus you can always speak to a client representative about any concerns. Even though you can still edit your survey text once it’s live, have someone proofread it before hundreds of others get their hands on it.  You won’t receive compliments for your impeccable use of punctuation, but you’re not going to lose credibility either.