How surveys benefit small businesses

Why the 7% of small businesses that survey customers daily are the most optimistic about their business outlook.

When it comes to using surveys, small business owners aren’t the heaviest users. 62% of small business owners we asked said they “never” conduct surveys of their customers. Why not? Getting feedback from customers, employees, and people in your target market is invaluable for any business—and even more so for small businesses.

Optimism is everything.

We used our own product to ask more than 2,000 small business owners across the U.S. about how business is going in today’s economic climate. We found that the small businesses who survey their customers every day are more optimistic than those who don’t. 49% of them say current conditions are “good,” handily beating the average score of 38%.

It’s not just a feeling to these confident small business owners. The same group is much more confident about their financial outlook than others. 73% of them said they expect their business’s revenue to increase in the next 12 months, far higher than the average of 55%.

How do the other groups rank? Small business owners who never survey their customers have about average levels of business optimism. 46% say current conditions are good, and 54% expect their revenue to increase in the next year.

Not convinced? In a separate study, we found that 83% of small businesses that say they’re “successful” measure customer satisfaction, while just 65% of those that don’t measure it say so.

So where’s the disconnect?

Why does the survey group have such a brighter outlook on business than other groups? Look, we’re not going to tell you it’s ALL because of surveys. Industry, outlook, competition—there are a million reasons for some businesses to be more confident than others.

But we see valuable feedback translate into business confidence all the time. It’s not just because business owners get feedback that they’re doing a good job—although that’s nice too.

Address things that actually matter to customers.

We find it’s the not-so-good feedback that usually leads to lasting business improvements.

  • Do your customers feel they’re waiting too long to get your product? Speed it up!
  • Do your customers think you’re too expensive? Take a look at your pricing model.
  • Got some mixed reviews on an employee? Time to review your customer service policy.

When you address issues that really matter to your customers, you start to feel like you’ve got a handle on things at your company. You feel you’re focusing on the things that matter. Does that translate to confidence in your business? You bet.

The key word is focus.

Small businesses know the importance of focus more than anyone else. From tech startups to mom-and-pop shops, if you’re a small business owner you truly know what it means to not have enough hours in the day.

Sometimes it can feel like everything needs attention, and maybe it does. But being able to focus on the things that matter—or at the very least prioritize them—is crucial for small business owners.

Want to feel really confident you’re moving in the right direction? Get accurate data to be sure that the issues you focus on at your company are the right ones.

Listening to customers is easier than you think.

Hearing from customers is practically a necessity to help small businesses focus on what matters. We know what you might be thinking: “I’m busy enough. You want me to add talking to customers all the time to my ever-growing to-do list?”

Well, yes and no. Talking to customers is important, but it doesn’t have to take up all your time. You can get tons of interesting insights out of running simple surveys—we’ll even give you the resources you need to write them.

You don’t have to start off big. 20% of the small businesses we surveyed say they run surveys quarterly or annually, while 16% say they run them more frequently—from every month to every day.

Either way, we can guarantee two things to you:

  1. Surveying your customers is easy enough to fit in your busy schedule (especially with our help).
  2. You will get issues to focus on and find areas to improve, translating not just to confidence but to a real impact on your bottom line.

3 quick tips to improve survey response rates

Here are some ideas to ensure that respondents will answer your surveys.

1. Be quick

If your survey is short and sweet, there's a greater chance that more respondents will complete it.

2. Offer incentives

Little incentives like small discount or an entry into a drawing can help ensure respondents complete your survey.

3. Buy a targeted audience

With SurveyMonkey Audience, you can purchase access to an audience who meets specific demographic criteria for your survey. It's a great way to get targeted responses from a specific group.

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