Survey Says …

Nielson PacketThis weekend I received a package from The Nielson Company. They’re the ratings company that provides TV stations, advertisers with information about consumer viewing habits. I’ve been asked to provide information about my family’s media consumption.

Surveys like those conducted by Nielson are important. A well designed survey can provide a company with valuable insight into what its customers are thinking. Customer feedback is helpful in a number of ways.


  • Feedback lets you know what your customers WANT in the way of new products and services.
  • Feedback lets you know what your customers THINK about the products and service you already provide.
  • Feedback lets you know what your customers FEEL about your pricing structure and their perception of value.
  • Feedback lets you know what your customers SAY to others about the way your employees treat them.
  • Feedback lets you know what your customers BELIEVE about the policies and procedures that govern how they do business with you.

Happy customers lead to repeat business, longer relationships, positive word of mouth, and referrals. Happy customers lead to innovation, revenue, and growth. In short, happy customers lead to a happy business.

But surveys aren’t just helpful for learning about your customers. They can be a great way to gather information about the opinions of employees about a whole host of internal topics. Management can learn about new ideas, ineffective procedures, restrictive policies, and internal service problems before they become too problematic and impact the business. In many cases, employee surveys serve as advance warning signs – allowing you to act before customers are impacted.

Of course; in order for surveys to work, people have to participate. A handful of surveys aren’t enough to represent large customer or employee groups. So you have to design your survey in such a way that people feel compelled to participate. You can’t assume anyone wants to share their opinion with you. That’s why the best surveys …

… are short and to the point. You can’t waste participants’ time.
… are easy to complete. Easy to understand questions and a simple submission process are a must.
… are actively promoted. You have to remind people that their opinions are important and invite them to participate. … are anonymous. Most people aren’t comfortable providing negative feedback (often the kind you most need to hear) if they feel there’s a chance they’ll be mistreated as a result of speaking their mind.

It’s easy to dismiss the average survey. They’re all around us and most aren’t very well put together. But they can play an important role in the development of the businesses closest to us – those we work for and frequent. So as consumers and service providers we should take them seriously. Take advantage of the opportunity when you’re asked to provide feedback. And take care to study the feedback your customers have chosen to share with you.

Good business is a partnership between the organization, its customers, and its employees. By working together, we can bring more value to everyone involved. Make sure to do your part when given the opportunity.

I’m looking forward to participating in the Nielson surveys. I’m a fan of TV and am happy to provide my feedback. It’s nice to know that – at least in some small way – my voice makes a difference.

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