Stop Interrogating Your Customers and Start Listening to What They're Actually Saying To get accurate consumer feedback, it's time to look beyond the traditional survey.

By John Sperry

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


For your business to succeed, it's important to understand how your customers are interacting with your brand. For years, the go-to method has been conducting surveys.

But surveys can be tricky. Poorly designed ones often reflect what you want to hear instead of what your customers are actually saying. Meanwhile long surveys, which force customers to slog through endless questions they probably don't care that much about, can generate ill-will.

Related: Why Market Research Matters

For more accurate, less intrusive feedback, it's time to look beyond the traditional survey.

Here are a few places to start.

Social media. What better place to get unfiltered, honest feedback than on social media? Online reviews and social media sites are rich with insights and allow your brand to listen to its customers where they're already talking and sharing stories. What's more, it gives your business the platform to start an open dialogue with your customers. Not only can you address their questions and concerns, but you can pose questions to them as well.

Comment boxes. This is where customers often share details on what they like about your brand, what they don't like and how they think you can fix what isn't working. By giving customers the space to tell their own stories in their own words, you may get answers to questions you'd never have thought to ask.

Related: 25 Digital-Marketing and Social-Media Experts to Follow on Twitter

Well-designed surveys. While traditional surveys have taken a bit of a beating here, when done well, these battle-tested tools can be effective at reinforcing positive relationships with, and gleaning information from customers. As a rule of thumb, keep them short and to the point. Start by eliminating questions for which you should already know the answer. Don't ask consumers to list what they've purchased from your company in the past. Focus instead on asking what only they can tell you, such as how they feel about their experience with your brand so far. When creating a survey, keep it as concise and relevant as possible. Collecting irrelevant information creates more work for you, and more work for the consumer.

Today's customers want to be heard; they want to help improve the brands they love. Giving them the opportunity to provide feedback on their own terms goes a long way towards building an ongoing, positive relationship.

Related: These 6 Companies Are Boosting Growth by Delighting Customers

John Sperry

CEO and Founder, InMoment

John Sperry is the entrepreneurial force behind InMoment, bringing a combination of creativity, technology and practicality to bear on every opportunity he encounters. He co-founded the company in 2002 and continues to act as the CEO.

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