What is a survey?

A survey is a questionnaire leveraged to poll a specific audience to gain a deeper understanding of their sentiments and opinions. Surveys are used to help better understand your users’ sentiments and opinions to better your product or service. They help answer questions like who are your users really and how do they feel about your product or service? The data collected from surveys are typically captured in a database for further analysis, and can also be used as a baseline for comparison over time.

Surveys are highly effective methods for gathering feedback to improve your product, business, and business strategies. Surveys can be broken down into two major categories: questionnaires and interviews. Questionnaires are a list of questions that users can answer at their own discretion on their own time. On the other hand, interviews require a second party, like someone from the product team, to ask a series of questions and allow the interviewer to dig a bit deeper.

Why are surveys important for SaaS products?

Surveys are a catalyst for getting your users to open up and provide the insights your internal teams need to build out a successful product roadmap. In addition, surveys are invaluable opportunities to better understand your market and the broader audience you haven’t necessarily captured yet.

Surveys allow businesses to effectively collect candid feedback, opinions, and values from a specific audience and to use those learnings to improve upon their products and services. Responses can either confirm or challenge assumptions you may already have about the market, your product, or really whatever you’re inquiring about. 

To take it a step further, feedback from surveys can also inform you about user sentiment about your product, help clarify challenges, and can tell you what users think about your overall brand.

Do customer surveys work?

According to Survey Monkey, businesses who measure customer satisfaction are 33% more likely to describe themselves as successful than those who don’t. Surveying has always been one of the top methods for data collection and for good reason — Gartner reported that 80% of companies that see year-over-year growth use customer surveys to collect customer experience data. 

In another report, Microsoft found that 77% of consumers see brands more favorably if they seek out and accept customer feedback. This begs the question, where is the balance between exciting and overwhelming your users? While it’s a fine line, this article will help demonstrate the sweet spot of surveys, providing your business an abundance of information while not over asking.

Types of surveys

There’s a wide variety of surveys that all retrieve different responses and types of feedback. Depending on the type of feedback you require, testing out different surveys will allow your business to get a wide breadth of actionable feedback. There’s a survey for every area of business, but here are a few as a baseline:

Customer feedback surveys

Customer feedback surveys are invaluable opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of user needs, pains, expectations, and opinions. The insights you gather from these surveys are particularly helpful in making product decisions and improvements, and optimizing user experience.

There are levels to customer feedback surveys. At the macro level, you can ask your users questions like “where do we need to improve,” or “how do you see our business is the market,” and at the micro level questions like “how important is this feature.” Customer feedback surveys help validate product decisions and roadmaps so you spend less time reiterating and hit the mark the first time around.

Market research Survey

Market research surveys allow organizations to gather information about their specific market and industry. They help uncover user needs, competitive intelligence, and market demographics — all valuable insights when establishing a business in any market. Market research surveys enable businesses to develop strategies based on valuable feedback from their target market and they help uncover the strengths and weaknesses of your product that internal teams may have missed.

Brand awareness survey

Brand awareness surveys are a great way to see if your brand resonates with users and the market as a whole. Having a memorable brand is highly important to establish a stake in any market — ensuring users will think of you and remember your brand when they’re searching for products or services to purchase is paramount (especially in SaaS).

Survey techniques

  • Keep surveys concise. Is the survey going to take more than 5 minutes to complete? Let the respondents know and hone in on the value this will drive for the product. 
  • Don’t over-survey. While it’s great to cast a wide net to ensure you have enough responses to a survey, surveying too often can lead to insignificant responses. As with anything, there is a counter to this; “Young people send and receive communications at a rate we’ve never seen before,” said Claes G. Fornell, founder of the American Customer Satisfaction Index. “They don’t seem to mind answering surveys if they’re not too long,” he explained. 
  • Feedback, on users’ terms. Gathering real time feedback is extremely powerful. You might consider adding a “feedback” button on your website or within your product or even consider a tool that captures product sentiment and value feedback directly from your users.
  • Choose the survey type wisely. The easier you make it for folks to take your survey, the better. Sometimes a single question can give you the feedback your business is looking for, and sometimes a longer form questionnaire does the trick. Whatever you choose, work backward from what feedback you would like to receive. 
  • Surveys are a chance to create a dialogue with users. From start to finish, surveys help create and maintain a long term relationship with your users. Opening up conversation is the first step, but following up provides users with the comfort that their opinions are valued and listened to.

The TL;DR of surveys

  • Collecting feedback is moderately difficult. While it does take some time to create an effective survey and to consider how the feedback will be used, once you have it in place it can easily be reused time and time again.
  • Analyzing feedback too is moderately difficult. This can vary depending on the complexity of the survey and the questions asked.
  • Reach broad and deep. Surveys can be used across a large audience and provide remarkably consistent results. 
  • Scalability is extremely high. Once created, a survey can be distributed across a large population, reused as often as needed, and can serve as a benchmark.
  • Cost is Inexpensive. The cost per respondent makes this one of the least expensive methods of collecting substantive feedback.