Like any company that is focused on securing new customers and keeping existing customers happy, online surveys are key tools that provide a much deeper understanding of their customer’s tastes and opinions. When a company is about to spend hundreds of millions of dollars developing something new, it is best to know beforehand if anyone is going to want to buy it.
Online surveys are part of market research and are the cheapest, and perhaps the most effectiveÂ method of gathering customer information. Surveys exist for both the general population and, if need be, for a certain demographic or certain types of individuals, including academics, computer users, industry experts, etc.
Surveys can vary in what they ask. They can focus on your personal opinions on a particular subject or can focus on gathering factual information. Most surveys also ask questions such as your age, sex, marital status, place of residence, etc. so that the responses can be organized and classified.
Online surveys obviously have to be catered to the individuals taking them, or else nobody would take time out of their busy lives to fill them out. This is done by measuring the best possible lengths the surveys can be, making sure the instructions and questions are as unambiguous and specific as possible, and in many cases incentivizing the survey taker with a form of compensation for their time. This can be with a bit of cash, coupons, extra air miles, or the respondent can be entered into a draw to win with such tools as Facebook fan-gate. What is difficult with surveys is interpretation errors and potential biases. Psychologists argue that there exists a social desirability bias in which people answer survey questions in a manner that they think will make them be viewed more favorably by others. A way around this is would be to make the respondent anonymous. In terms of length, if a survey is too long, this induces response fatigue which leads to response errors, incomplete questionnaires, and overall unreliable data.
A web survey allows a plethora of information to be gathered in only a short period of time, much shorter than any paper-based survey. Web surveys also give the ability for a provider to send follow-up reminders for respondents who have not yet completely finished their surveys.
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