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    5 Mistakes That Are Killing Your Customer Surveys

    Chances are, you’re already using surveys to track your financial institution's performance or to analyze your market, but are you really getting the most out of them?

    Customer surveys not only allow you to take the pulse of your market—they can also help you retain current customers and increase customer satisfaction. When a borrower is given the opportunity to provide feedback, they feel that your institution actually values their opinion.

    Well-written questions are critical for a survey's completion rate and success at providing accurate, actionable information. The way you ask your questions can shape your respondents' perspective on the topic and may even cause them to unintentionally provide inaccurate answers. Good survey questions should allow for thoughtful answers without leading the respondent, and should not leave them feeling angry or confused.

    Writing an effective survey can be challenging, but if you avoid these common survey writing mistakes, you will have a great survey in no time.

    The Value of Customer Surveys for Your Financial Institution

    Getting borrower feedback is a sure way to find out whether what your financial institution is doing is actually working. Here are some statistics from Wootric to help you understand the customer survey landscape:

    • For every customer who complains to a business, 26 other customers don’t voice their feelings.

    • 95% of customers share bad experiences with others.

    • 86% of people are willing to pay up to 25% more for a better customer experience.

    • Resolving a complaint in the customer’s favor leads to repeat business 70% of the time.

    • The average response rate for email surveys is roughly 8%.

    • The average response rate for telephone surveys are in the 8-12% range.

    • Response rates can soar past85% when the respondent population is motivated and the survey is well-executed.

    Mistake #1: Your Objectives Aren’t Clearly Defined

    The most important step in a survey is figuring out what you actually want to know. It’s important to make your objectives very clear up front to make survey creation as easy as possible.

    Before crafting your survey questions, first identify the objective of your survey. What is it that you want to conclude from this survey? Once you know the information you are trying to gather, you will have a better direction to guide your survey questions in a way that will help you get the information you need.

    Focus on your end goal. What decisions do you need to make or behavior do you need to change based on the feedback you get?

    Mistake # 2: Your Survey is Too Long

    While asking 50 questions in a survey may seem important to achieve the responses desired, keeping your survey short and concise is the best way to improve the completion rate. The longer your survey takes to complete, the lower your chances of people completing it.

    Most survey participants are only willing to spend up to 10 minutes completing a survey. Data from SurveyMonkey suggests that if a respondent begins answering a survey, the sharpest increase in drop-off rate occurs with each additional question up to 15 questions. A one to five-minute long survey is recommended and likely to generate the most responses.

    Mistake #3: You Aren’t Segmenting Your Audience

    According to PeoplePulse, “The salience, [or relevance], of an issue to the sampled population has been found to have a strong positive correlation with response rate for postal and internet-based surveys. For example, a survey on homeowner taxes would likely be more salient to a population of homeowners than a population of college students.”

    If a person doesn’t find the content of your survey relevant to their interests or experience, they probably won’t take it. Segmenting your target audience is important if you want to glean actionable information from your surveys. If you want to find out what types of products millennials like/dislike, you wouldn't send a survey out to every one of your customers—just those who fit the demographic.

    Mistake #4: You’re Starting with Difficult Questions

    If you start your survey with wordy, difficult questions that require your participants to really think, you will likely lose many of your potential respondents within the first few questions. Putting these questions first makes your survey appear longer and more difficult than it may actually be, which can easily deter survey takers.

    It’s best to begin with easy questions, such as the participant's age, how often they use your products, etc., as these questions won't scare your respondents away. Your respondents are also more likely to completely read and answer the easier questions in the beginning, so even if they become agitated and do not provide the most thoughtful of answers for your more difficult questions, you will still receive some data from the easy questions.

    Mistake #5: You’re Asking Leading Questions

    According to MediaCollege, “A leading question is a question which subtly prompts the respondent to answer in a particular way. Leading questions are generally undesirable as they result in false or slanted information.”

    While it may be tempting to use leading and biased language to get a survey taker to provide positive comments about your financial institution, it will not help you to receive the information you really need to improve your service, which really only harms your institution's success.

    Once you have completed crafting your questions, it is important that you conduct a test run with a practice audience to ensure there are no errors and that it is easy to understand and complete. It's a best practice to test the survey timing, question formatting, question order, and distribution channels. After the test run, you are ready to send out your survey!

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    Amanda Harr

    A graduate of the Plan II Honors program at UT Austin, Amanda Harr is the Content Manager for SWBC. A clever wordsmith who appreciates artful persuasion and authenticity in writing, Amanda uses a structured creative process to craft marketing strategies, develop communications solutions, and deliver top-notch content.

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