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How to get the best out of your survey – and it’s not just about the numbers

Out of the multitude of options available in the business-to-business world for gathering customer insight, surveys are still a valuable tool.  Knowing your customers and gathering the right information about them shows that you are already on the journey to increasing customer loyalty. Improved loyalty leads to better retention, more sales opportunities and the nurturing of strong advocates who can tell the world about your company.

We create B2B surveys for many of our clients. Based on our experience we would like to share some of our tips for success.
Bsquared B2B customer survey

Surveys have an established and clear place in the retail/consumer world for measuring customer satisfaction. In the B2B environment, a survey is often seen only as a simple measure of customer satisfaction. However it can be used for so much more.

Our clients have found that a well implemented survey quickly provides the customer insights they need. With a clear objective, surveys can be used not only as a tool to find out about customer satisfaction but also as a way to assess the strength of your brand and can even be used to gather competitive information.

Designed well, genuine insight from your customers (and perhaps also your stakeholders or your employees), can be gathered and analysed quickly. Surveys can be used to understand and measure:

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Employee feedback
  • Relationships in the supply chain
  • How partnerships are working
  • Perceptions of end users
  • Future requirements
  • Improvements or momentum in customer experience
  • Feelings and aspirations of members in a membership organisation

Whilst valuable as a stand-alone one-off exercise, surveys can also form part of a regular Voice of the Customer programme or combined with other methods for gathering customer insight such as telephone interviews or face-to-face reviews.


Here are our top tips for running a successful survey:

1. Have a clear purpose

Objectives clearly stated, targets identified, outcomes defined. Good planning is vital.

2. Gain senior management support

No company can truly satisfy its customers unless top management is fully behind the programme. They must be genuinely customer orientated, supportive of initiatives to gather customer insight and seen to be doing so publically.

3. Part of an overall customer insight strategy

To ensure success, a survey must complement other customer data gathering and analysis strategies. It is not simply a number gathering exercise the data should contribute to actions and organisational development.

4. A continuous process

A customer satisfaction index is a snapshot at a point in time. People’s views change continuously and the performance of companies in delivering customer satisfaction is also changing. Measuring satisfaction must be a continuous process.

5. Keep it short

Not only short, but as succinct, straightforward and simple as possible. A less arduous survey means increased response rates and better data. Decide if you want users to explain what they mean and give examples - a valuable source of information, but if you ask for too much, maybe a telephone interview would be more appropriate. Slider bars to show progress are invaluable.

6. Test.....and test again

Before going live, test on internal colleagues and also on a small sample of customers if you can. This is invaluable to ensure that the questions can't be misinterpreted and it isn't too long.

7. Clear benefit in completing the survey

Why should someone complete the survey? We have seen that response rates are better if there is a clear benefit to the target for completing the survey. Offer to share the results if appropriate.

8. Good analysis from an impartial source

Make sure, as part of the planning, that enough time and resource has been invested in the analysis and reporting. Headline findings are generally fairly obvious but there can often be some surprising nuggets of information contained within the data.

Bsquared successfully runs surveys for many business-to-business clients. We can offer clear and unambiguous advice on your own projects, no matter how small they are, and on how you could get the maximum benefit from your investment.

If you are interested in learning more, or have a specific project in mind please contact us.

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