Surveys can be a great source of information about your customers or your employees. But in order to get the most out of that information, you need to be able to analyze and interpret the results. Finding the most valuable information within piles of survey results requires some work. Here are a few tips to help you find that information and use it to improve your business.
Choose Questions Based on What You Want to Learn
Accurately analyzing results actually starts before you even receive the responses. When crafting your survey, it’s important that you first have a clear, single goal in mind. Then, write your questions in a way that will get you the information you need while also being sure they are all relevant to the goal you have for the survey.
For example, if you need to determine an accurate median age or income level for your respondents, don’t include ranges for them to choose from. If you don’t know the exact numbers, then you can’t accurately determine a median or average. Tailor your questions to the exact type of information you are looking to find.
Do a Quick Review of the Results
It might sound obvious that the first step in analyzing results once you receive them is to read them. But it can be tempting for some researchers to immediately begin organizing and categorizing results. A quick read-through, however, can help you get the overall picture of the results, ensure that you don’t miss anything important, and also help you avoid bias.
Sometimes, when people perform surveys, they go into it with a hypothesis about the results. When collecting and analyzing the results, it’s important not to just jump right in and see if your hypothesis is correct. People might have differing views than you on the topic of your survey, or they might have something important to add about another area of your research altogether. Don’t miss important information by skipping ahead.
Once you have gone through all of the results, then it’s time to find patterns. Depending on what type of questions and format you used, this could involve counting out the responses or going through the basic stats on your online survey software.
While doing this, you need to look for the most popular responses among your respondents. But also keep an eye out for surprises. For instance, if the majority of the respondents in your customer satisfaction survey seem satisfied in most areas, but unsatisfied in one, that’s probably where you should focus your energy.
Don’t be shy to use what can look like advanced analytics from survey software. For example, QuestionPro offers banner tables and crosstabs that can be used to segment your data based on answers to other questions. This could allow you to see data based on demographic information, or even to see how people who said they were unsatisfied with one area answered other questions, giving you clues about what might be affecting their dissatisfaction.
Create a Visual Representation
It can also be helpful to put the results into visual formats like charts, graphs or word clouds. Seeing the results in one or more of these formats can help you better understand how all the responses measure up against one another.
Determine What Action the Results Warrant
Once you’ve found the patterns, it’s time for you to figure out what to do about them. If one demographic of your customers are showing they are dissatisfied with an area of your business, you can create plans to address the issues. You can also use analysis to help drive how to communicate and market to your customers.
Be aware: not all surveys warrant action. If you run an employee satisfaction survey and people seem happy, you might be best served to just maintain the status quo. But all surveys at least warrant consideration of action. So carefully go over the results and keep an open mind about what they might mean.