Is a survey just a moment in time? Or can it be more?

“I love a survey!” I said, as I completed the feedback survey as I was leaving the excellent Female Founders Business Brunchin’ organised by Claire Griffiths of The Thrive Effect last Friday at Barclays Eagle Lab. Luca Forte, who manages the labs and was helping run the event, looked at me in shock and said “Wow, that’s the first time anyone’s said that!”.

 OK so full disclosure – I do loads of survey analysis as part of my job. I get to play with all kinds of survey data – client satisfaction, employee engagement, membership feedback, customer experience – all of it telling a story about what that ‘group’ or audience has experienced. Would they recommend their place of work to a friend? Are they happy with the frequency of the communications received from their organisation? Is there anything that can be done to improve the relationship? Some big questions – but what’s really interesting about it is that, if you’ve gathered enough of the right information, you can get really detailed about who’s saying what by cross-referencing it. Would X business unit recommend us? Is it just Y group who feel we’re not communicating enough? And so on… And that’s when you have a story – when you get stuck into the nitty gritty.

 But just because I analyse it, doesn’t mean I still have to love completing it, right? Wrong. And here are my reasons why I enjoy them – or even, tips to help get your teams / audiences onboard with completing your next survey:

1. I’m giving my opinion – hands up who feels flattered when someone’s asked their advice on something? It doesn’t have to be on the future strategy of your organisation. It can relate to any daily situation. Would you prefer chicken or pasta for supper? OK, that’s pretty simple – but the point is, there was a choice, and you had to opt for one of them – and you were listened to!

2. You’re capturing my feelings at that given moment – back to supper, you choose pasta. Perhaps later that night, you wish you’d said chicken. Well, fair enough – we all have a right to change our mind. But AT THAT MOMENT, you wanted pasta. It doesn’t make it wrong, just because it was based on a single moment in time. It means that, at that very moment you wanted pasta. Ramping that up to something a bit more complex – let’s say you asked your employees: Would you recommend this company as a great place to work? Yes / No / Unsure. Survey closes a week later. 14% have said No. It might be that if you re-ran it, the number might be 10% or 20% . Does that matter? What matters is the way your employees feel. At. That. Moment. And if you employ 100 people and 14 of them wouldn’t recommend you as a great place to work, you need to dig deeper. Because in that same moment, when those 14 were having a bad day in the office, they could also have spent an average of 142 minutes of their day on social networking and messaging platforms (source: GWI report in Jan 2019 about time spent on social media globally/averaged) telling others how bad it was. The flip is that the other 86 were sharing rave reviews hopefully!

3. You cared to ask – I’ll scenario-base this one, to illustrate the point better. Let’s say you work in education – in a school or college, for example. You have multiple stakeholders – students, parents, teachers, governors, and so on. As an organisation, a decision is made to get rid of uniform and wear own clothes. The comms go out, and there’s a revolt. Who was consulted on this? Well, it turns out, the governors and teachers worked with the PTA to put the plan in place. But as students, didn’t they have a say? Or the broader parent community? A simple survey would have given a broad sense of what ALL stakeholders might have felt about the decision. It’s a way to consult with your widest audience, so that everyone has a chance for points 1 & 2 to happen. They may opt not to reply – that’s fine. But you cared to ask, and that’s a step towards getting full cooperation. (I’m acutely aware that Cameron cared to ask, and look where we are now… but let’s leave national politics aside please!).

I’m not advocating surveys as offering a complete picture, all the time. In some cases, they’re enough. For example:

  • Hosting a survey on a website to get target audience feedback;
  • Initial feedback on a new initiative implemented or training session provided;
  • Member feedback on how the membership is going.

In other cases, you might want something that supports a longer term drive:

  • A pulse check for client satisfaction – how are our account teams doing? – which is carried out at intervals and can be used as part of an overall client servicing strategy;
  • Employee engagement – again, as a pulse check – to literally ‘check in’ and see that teams are engaged – to use as part of a broader employee engagement and wellbeing strategy; and so on.

The above are all examples where the survey can offer a moment in time that supports longer term actions. The key, whichever route you take, is reviewing the results impartially, making actions and implementing them. These actions might be:

  • Quick wins – in response to feedback that’s come through loud and clear;
  • Specific action – setting up 121s with those sharing something specific. Call them, meet them, get to understand the challenge – or success – and act accordingly;
  • Qual to support the quant – this is where focus groups can help you unpick certain areas. Getting a group together, facilitated ideally by an external expert, to really unpick messages that were uncovered.

So you see – a survey can be a moment in time, but it’s usually part of something more. If you’d like help building, delivering or analysing your survey – whatever form it may take – let me know. I offer impartial, expert insight to help you make evidence-based decisions within your organisation.

I also collaborate with experts including Lisa Pantelli, Cath Horner and Annabel Dunstan, depending on your specific needs. So drop me a line to chat more!

Leave a Comment