Things we’ve learned in 20 years (part 1)June 28, 2023
How to use the ‘Would you recommend?’ survey questionJuly 27, 2023
Surveylab is 20 years old and I’ve been racking my brains for the top 20 lessons we’ve learned in all this time. I came up with this list…
Quick recap of part 1 is here:
- Getting started (on employee surveys)
- Anyone can write a survey
- Some surveys are a waste of time
- Do not send your survey out in Microsoft Excel
- On Email lists
- Don’t forget the email
- Take pride in your brand
- We are Surveylab
- Employee recognition is undervalued
- Opportunities to learn are everywhere
11. Do what you say you’ll do
Mine and Hew’s careers started in customer support where we “got stuff done”. The result was happy customers and a happy boss too. A lot of our individual success then was down to just getting the tasks done, big ones, small ones, the difficult ones, the boring ones…
This lesson applies even more when you are growing a business.
It may not sound obvious, but simply delivering – consistently – on what you say you’ll do, will make you standout.
12. People thrive in the right environment
When we ran our very first UK Workplace Study in 2012, I remember being surprised by the results reporting how many people want to do a good job. On the whole, people seek meaningful work, that they can contribute to and do well in.
Fast forward to a pandemic and workplace upheaval, improving work-life balance and awareness of mental health, and more… Yet the media and some leaders would have you believe we’re all on the make and you only really do any real work when you’re physically in the office.
People want to do a good job. In the right environment, people thrive. And that looks slightly different to different people (and different life/career stages).
13. The ones we don’t remember…
The surveys we don’t remember were just as important as the ones we immediately think of.
We have grown with our surveys and probably forget the projects that ran smoothly because of lessons learned and what went before. It sometimes feels like trends run in cycles; what was important or prevalent at one time, isn’t any more. Sometimes trends come back around and other times they disappear for good. We’ll see over the next 20 years!
14. Requests For Proposals? No thanks
It took a while to learn to recognise when we are quote fodder.
Tender processes might work for some, but not us. There isn’t enough two-way dialogue to get to know the buyer. We are left feeling that we helped the buyer feel like they did some homework and feel good about their marking. It’s unlikely we’ll respond. Sorry.
15. Don’t use URL Shorteners in surveys
I don’t like Microsoft Forms because the survey links that are created by Forms don’t look trustworthy. Forms can be incredibly difficult to verify who the survey really has come from.
URL shorteners have the same effect – masking where the link really points to. Some email apps will warn against clicking some of these links and this in turn affects your survey response rate.
Forms are fine for quick, small-scale surveys carried out internally. However, they lack a level of authenticity when shared with customers and give fraudsters a vehicle to impersonate your organisation with ease.
16. Understand the problem
Our first survey in multiple languages was written in English first, and then we had to copy the code and replace each bit of text six times with the French, German, Spanish etc. – manually! We then repeated our Quality Assurance process six times.
It took two and a half more years before we could more easily implement multi-lingual support in our surveys. We trialled different approaches on other surveys until we came up with our scripting framework.
It was a game changer.
The original plan for Surveylab was to build a better DIY survey tool than the offerings that existed back in 2003. But we found a different track – our ‘problem’ was scripting truly custom surveys for clients and keeping the flexibility around what we could do needed more efficient tools and methods. That was an exciting time, developing the framework and seeing the dramatic improvements on production time.
17. Freelancers are awesome
Iftikhar is a brilliant contract developer in Nottingham. We are still using the code that he wrote to support multi-lingual surveys today.
The lesson? We can’t do everything. Knowing when to let go of the things you’re not good at, or when to bring in extra hands (and who) is an essential skill when you run any business.
18. The future?
ChatGPT? Meh. Ask me again in a year’s time.
Our current thinking on ChatGPT is here.
19. Feedback is a gift
Look at it as such. Whether you’re running a business or undertaking a survey, the best learning comes when you can lean into the discomfort of hearing something challenging, put aside the ego, and see the opportunity to change, grow and adapt.
20. The best survey is …
The one that asks, “Who wants a tea?”
Thank you for reading. Going to put the kettle on now.
If you need an online survey, you’re in the right place. Can we help?
Part 1 of Things we’ve learned in 20 years is here.