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Asking isn’t enough: Design your feedback process to lead to change

Asking isn’t enough: Design your feedback process to lead to change

To celebrate the launch of the SurveyMonkey Technology Ecosystem Program (STEP), we’re highlighting one company that we’ve partnered with—in one way or another—every day in August. This is a guest post written by Janine Anderson, Managing Editor of Content Marketing at Zapier. Check out all our integrations partners here.

Gathering feedback—whether from employees, users, customers, readers, or clients—is important. It helps you be sure you're shaping your business to suit their needs and wants, keeping them engaged and ensuring your company has a future.

But you really only get useful feedback when you ask the right questions. 

Before joining Zapier's content marketing team, I worked in engagement journalism, as a reporter, editor, and then as a consultant helping newsrooms implement their own engagement projects. A huge part of my job was figuring out what information I needed, what questions would get me there, and what to do with the answers I received.

Define your goals and audience

Before you ask anyone to answer a single question, you need to decide on your intended outcome. This isn't about choosing the right answer in advance, it's clarifying what you'll do with whatever responses come in. 

If you ask questions with no goal in mind—and no plan to use the feedback you receive—you're not doing yourself or your respondents any favors. 

Here are some questions to get you started:

  1. What do you want to learn or change?
  2. Whose input will be valuable?

These questions will help you narrow your focus and will help you better understand who you ask to participate. If you're looking for help deciding on a new feature or product that you hope will entice existing customers or clients to do more with your business, you'll want to reach out to established customers. Churned customers could be a better audience if you want to re-engage stalled accounts or attract new users.

Develop your questions

Once you've defined your audience you can get to work on the questions. There are a few rules I tend to follow:

Avoid questions that can be answered with a yes or no

Unless you're trying to get aggregate data from a fairly large audience, these questions don't often lead to useful insight. For example, "Do you like our newsletter?" wouldn't help you understand whether or not the newsletter has the kind of information your community finds useful or if they would rather see something else hit their inboxes. A question like "What would make our newsletter more valuable to you?" will get you closer to that insight.

Be sure your ask is clear and specific

If you're gathering information from many people, you want to be sure every question will get you an answer that is related and comparable. Don't leave things up to their interpretation. 

Here's an example from a social campaign we worked on at Zapier in 2019. 

The first version of the question was "What is stopping you from automating more of your tasks?" There's nothing wrong with that question, but it's broad. And to get the kind of answers we want, it assumes the respondent has a certain level of knowledge: that they know what "automating" means, what "tasks" are, and that they could use automation to stop doing some kind of task. 

People without that level of knowledge might have answered with things like "I don't know how to start," "I don't how automation would help me," or just ignored the ask completely.

What we wanted was to learn how people would like to connect their apps. We might have been able to get those answers with our first question, but we'd be much more assured of it with this phrasing: "What apps that you use for work do you wish worked together?" 

That phrasing is specific: we want to know about apps they use and how they would like them to function. With those answers, we could suggest solutions, and learn about features users wanted that weren't on our roadmap.

Test your questions before sending them out

It can be tempting to skip this step, but it's so important. If you want to be sure that you'll get the kind of insight you're looking for, let a few people fill out your survey before it goes live. It could be coworkers or friends who understand your business enough to give answers that make sense, but who aren't so close to the project that they know what you want. If you don't get usable insights, tweak those questions!

Know how you'll use the feedback

Before responses come in, you need to plan how you'll use the feedback. This means getting buy-in from teams who will be expected to take action and creating an accountability plan so you can be sure you've put the information to work. 

Another thing I highly recommend: follow up with your respondents to let them know how you used their feedback. It doesn't need to be something fancy, and can absolutely be an email to the entire group (bcc, please!), but let them know their responses were received, that they've been shared, and some general information about how you plan to use them. 

Bonus: If you find any specific feedback incredibly valuable, send a personal note to let them know.  

Automate your next steps

Now that you've decided to collect feedback, set up a system to help you keep everything moving. That's when to use automation with Zapier. 

If it's important for someone to see responses as they come in, set up an automated workflow that emails responses to you or a team member. If you'll need to sort, search, and collaborate about responses, you can have responses automatically sent to a spreadsheet

You can also use Zapier's App Directory to find just the right workflow for your needs. 

Head to the SurveyMonkey integration page and scroll to the section "Connect SurveyMonkey to 2,000+ Apps." From there, search for the app you'd like to connect and see if any of the recommended guided workflows that appear will meet your needs. If so, click the "Try It" button and you'll be guided through set-up. 

You can also create your own automated workflow from scratch, telling Zapier what you'd like to happen whenever a new response comes in through your SurveyMonkey form. To create your custom workflow, log in to your Zapier account, select SurveyMonkey as your trigger app, and add action steps from there so you can automatically track responses, add people to your mailing list, and more. 

Ready to start connecting your surveys with actions?
Learn how to set up triggers, update workflows, and more with SurveyMonkey + Zapier.
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