Do you know what your customers really think about your company, products, services, or employees?
You should make it a point to find out: 73 percent of consumers trust the recommendations of their friends or peers far more than most of your marketing messages, Forrester Research reports.
The strong link between how highly customers rate a company and their subsequent loyalty means that businesses with better customer-experience scores “tend to have more customers who will buy from them again, who won’t take their business elsewhere, and who will recommend them to a friend,” writes analyst Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian.
If you prefer negative motivation, consider this statistic from Harris Interactive [PDF]: 89 percent of U.S. adults who turned their back on a business because of a poor customer experience switched to a direct competitor.
You can discourage people from walking away from your company by running periodic but simple customer satisfaction surveys and addressing areas where you fall short.
Here are seven online-survey providers that make the process easier than ever. Most of them let you send questionnaires to smartphones and tablets, and some are optimized for mobile platforms.
FluidSurveys ($17 per month for its professional plan; unlimited responses) — With more than 100,000 customers, including mega-brands like Coca-Cola, FluidSurveys offers a robust set of tools that integrate with other cloud-based services. For example, you can use Box to store and share responses or MailChimp to gather feedback from pre-existing email lists. The questionnaire layouts automatically adjust for mobile devices. You can test FluidSurveys for free with 20-question surveys (limited to 150 responses per survey) and manage your surveys with mobile apps for Android and iOS devices.
GetFeedback.com ($20 per month for its personal plan; up to 100 responses per month; pictured) — This pay-as-you go service was launched last month by two former Salesforce.com search-marketing executives. It was designed specifically for creating surveys optimized for smartphones, tablets, and web browsers. GetFeedback.com has a highly visual focus, allowing for the inclusion of videos, images, and other branding elements. The site offers a free plan that supports gathering up to 10 feedback responses per month.
Polldaddy ($200 per year for its professional plan; custom branding and unlimited surveys) — Meant for everything from polls to customer surveys, Polldaddy offers an option to create polls for iOS devices, so information can be collected on-the-go. As with other services here, you may open a free account with limited options, in terms of the branding and the number of questions you may ask (restricted to 19). The paid plans require a one-year commitment, although there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee.
SoGoSurvey ($12 per month for professional plan; unlimited surveys and responses) — One of this company’s biggest pitches is its customer service: It boasts a 97 percent retention rate, with average response times of 18 minutes. Its mobile-ready designs are optimized for display on iOS and Android mobile gadgets, and it offers in-depth reports about the results. The free plan allows 15 surveys, 75 questions, and 200 responses.
SurveyAct (free basic service; unlimited surveys) — This service, currently available as a public beta, was designed for those with little survey-design experience. It allows small-business owners to add their own branding and to create questionnaires with multiple branching and page-jumping options, depending on how someone responds to certain questions. SurveyAct is backed by StudyLogic, a global market-research firm, which can run your surveys against specific consumer or business panels for a fee.
SurveyGizmo ($19 per month for basic plan; basic questions and unlimited responses) — The entry-level, month-to-month version of this service, which has been around since 2006, offers a series of design and survey templates that feature 28 question types. Some of its well-known enterprise customers are Adobe, Apple, and General Mills. SurveyGizmo features integrates with MailChimp, Salesforce.com, and ExactTarget. The free version of the service permits unlimited questions (from just eight basic types) and up to 350 responses per month.
SurveyMonkey ($17 per month for its select plan; unlimited questions and responses, plus some advanced features) — This service, founded in 1999, has been considered the leader among web-based survey tools since its merger with Zoomerang in late 2011: SurveyMonkey is now used to collect more than 2 million responses per day. It boasts enhanced security, skip-logic features, custom survey designs, and URLs that can be used to track responses. Its free plan allows for 10-question surveys, with up to 100 responses each.