There is no denying the fact that when business decisions are based on inputs gathered from customers, the chances of success are significantly higher. This brings me to the small business poser for today – which is the most efficient and cost effective way for small businesses to gather customer feedback? While the good-old fashioned feedback forms continue to be handed out, small businesses are increasingly looking to reach out to a wider audience of potential and existing customers. Helping them do this are online survey tools, designed to handle both simple one question surveys as well as more complex questionnaires designed for various demographics. In a way, online surveys are more honest because the respondents are not under any pressure to give favorable or ‘nice’ sounding feedback. Also online surveys offer greater flexibility in administration, with the questionnaire design being easily changed to suit the demographic.
Social media sites like Facebook can be used to collect data from ‘fans’. For instance if you want to know which flavor of the potato chips your clients want introduced, then social media might be a good choice. But for more elaborate surveys, there are several other online survey tools that offer a host of features without burning a hole in your pocket. Online surveys can be embedded into email, your website, blog and integrated with third party websites. They also provide a host of branding options, questionnaire designs and data analytics at a reasonable cost.
SurveyMonkey is one of the most popular tools and has a free version that allows you to get up to 100 responses to a set of 10 questions per survey. Paid versions start at about $9 a month and go up to $ 40 per month. The advanced packages offer features like automatic filtration of responses and quantitative and qualitative analysis of the data obtained.
SurveyGizmo has a a 14 day free trial plan and thereafter charges $75 per month. They offer a 25 percent discount for non-profit and academic institutions.
Poll Daddy has a basic free plan, which allows you to ask 10 questions and get up to 200 responses a month. The advanced package that allows unlimited responses and questions, plus a host of analytic tools, is priced at $ 75 per month.
Google Consumer Surveys– Google has forayed into online surveys with its product Google Consumer Surveys. You are allowed to ask one question to the target audience. You choose the target segment for the survey and the question is posted on websites referred to as the publishing website. In order to access premium content on these websites, the visitor has to first answer your question. The publishing website gains a part of the fee that you pay to Google Consumer Surveys. Google is offering three price plans. The first one gets you responses from general internet population in US, Canada or UK, and you have to pay $0.10 per response or $150.00 for 1500 responses. The second plan is priced at $0.50 per response or $250.00 for 500 responses and lets you choose a demographic segment. The third one would cost you $.50 for every response or $750 for 1500 responses. With the third package, you can ask a qualifying question, for example – do you like ice cream? and if the respondent says yes, you can proceed to ask him – which is your favorite brand of ice cream?
And now a survey question of my own – ladies have you ever noticed that each time you eat at a restaurant with a male companion, the server promptly plonks a feedback form in front of you, instead of your companion? Now is it that (a) women are better at giving feedback or (b) is it that we look more indulgent?