We often meet with clients interested in conducting a survey, and when we discuss the project, many clients come with questions in-hand. They are interested, curious, even excited sometimes about the possibility of tapping into the voice of the customer!
And when we review their questions and start to see the direction they’re heading with the topics, we invariably pause the conversation and ask them to take a step back. Overall: What is the goal of the research? What are they hoping to learn? How will they act on the results?
Even for their drafted questions, we ask them to take a step back and think about each question:
- What do you expect to learn from the responses?
- If the customers say they want “A,” are they going to expect that we act on their response?
- If the responses say “this doesn’t work,” what are we going to do with that information?
- How are we going to use the response for prioritizing some operations improvement, helping with strategic planning, or enhancing the customer experience?
- What’s the goal of asking that question?
When clients start with their questions in-hand, we make inquiries like those above. Essentially, we are trying to get the client to reverse their thinking. Instead of starting with their questions, we want to them to (1) Start with the Goal, then (2) Go back to how they would Act on the Results, then (3) Go back to the Data they Need, and finally (4) Determine how to Word the Question.
If they work through this process correctly, it will result in a question worded to get actionable data to achieve the goal. If they start with the question, it may result in an unusable set of answers.
Develop surveys in reverse. Start with your goal and gradually work your way back to the question.