Customer surveys as voice of the customer

Using online surveys to talk to your eCommerce customers can be a rewarding as well as painful experience. Painful in the sense that customers will tell you your weaknesses or where your site falls short of their expectations. Yet isn’t that a reward as well?

There are an abundance of online survey tool options available today. The tools make it easy to create, deploy, and analyze results. Yet the value for eCommerce product owners is opening the door to hear the voice of the customer. This concept is so import that customer surveys are a product owner responsibility on the eCommerce organization mind map.

Getting results real-time brings more attention
Traditional print and mail surveys make it difficult to get survey results. It’s usually a multi-step process that involves exporting results, importing data into a database or spreadsheet, and then creating reports. With an online customer survey system, results are available real-time by authenticating to an administrative console where answers for each question are automatically tallied and graphed. I always say “people get easy, people like easy, people use easy.” That holds true for business processes as it does for eCommerce site use. When the tools are easy to use they’ll get more use and attention.

Customer surveys are a great tool for primary research
But let’s not forget what we are really after with customer surveys; to find the voice of the customer. Remember, surveys are a way to find data that doesn’t already exist. It’s a way to here first-hand from customers how they feel, what they see, or what they might do. Did you catch that? It’s a way to stay relevant to customers by hearing what’s important to them.

Change the questions at regular intervals
Traditional paper surveys have limitations based on the number of surveys distributed, the logistics of delivery, and the timing of the analysis. Online customer surveys change these limitations because questions can be changed without worrying about unused print inventory or the time to collect answers. This advantage is important because it allows product managers to change questions at regular intervals. I like to think of this as keeping a conversation going rather than repeating yourself over-and-over again.

Use the answers to justify work and test hypothesis
Product owners get a double benefit from the answers they receive from online customer surveys. When answers turn into patterns and patterns turn into a majority, the product manager can use this evidence to justify changes on the eCommerce site. Additionally, the answers serve as a basis to test theories within the business about certain topics. Would a customer buy this new product? How does the customer like the new payment options? What products would the customer like to see in the future?

On more thing. Reading open responses on customer surveys requires thick skin. Remember, some customers are responding to the survey because they’ve had a bad experience with the site, service, or products offered to them. This can create strong emotions with people. Read through their emotions to find the core issue. That’s the real voice of the customer.