Using ChatGPT to read survey commentsJune 7, 2023
Part 2: Things we’ve learned in 20 yearsJuly 13, 2023
What were you doing two decades ago?
Before mobile phones had internet and stole all our time?
Twenty years ago, we started Surveylab. I’ve been racking my brains for what are the top 20 lessons we’ve learned, but keep getting sidetracked by “ooh, do you remember … ?”
So, the first
five or six eight, no nine “lessons” are below and part 2 is here, including nuggets like this one from our research we conducted for Raisingkids.co.uk:
The tooth fairy paid £1 for teeth under the pillow in 07/08.
1. Getting Started!
Before Surveylab, I had never conducted an employee survey. Our first was for the Eaga Partnership. It was 2004 and the survey was… wait for it… a printed affair (This was Generation X).
It’s no surprise that the basic building blocks and steps for running a survey are mostly the same across all types of survey. What we learn from one survey we can take into the next.
We must have done something right because employee surveys are a mainstay of what we do to this day.
2. Anyone can write a survey
See #1 above.
Our Employee Survey Framework evolved out of all the surveys that we did for HR managers and consultants who came to us, asking us to script and support their analysis.
The challenge is the tools available today make it easy to throw some questions out there and start collecting data. This can work but it’s not always that simple.
3. Some surveys are a waste of time
Because nothing is going to happen after.
It is frustrating when we see this play out. Steps 1 and 2 in this post might help. Also, who is ‘sponsoring’ the survey – does it need management buy-in from higher up?
4. Do not send your survey out in Microsoft Excel
We receive a 300 question information security assessment every year… In 5 Microsoft Excel worksheets.
Have you ever tried answering someone else’s survey in a spreadsheet?
No matter what skill level you reached at Excel and the amazing features you deploy to bludgeon the question-and-answer options onto the page for the user to fill in: the user experience will suck, and respondents will break your rules or avoid answering.
Excel is great for helping with reports. It’s not bad for collating lists of potential questions to include in your survey either, but Excel is not a survey platform.
5. Who are you asking?
In the early days of Surveylab, an agency bought a list of emails from a very reputable company. They then asked us to run the marketing survey for their very reputable client.
I was reluctant, but agreed because of who the client was and the source of the list: everything was supposedly vetted.
All I remember seeing as I scanned the list was a very high proportion of role-based emails (e.g. info@ and sales@). My heart sank. That survey was very stressful. Never again. You couldn’t do that anymore; email has changed massively.
6. Successful surveys need good emails
We spend more and more time preparing and processing emails than we do scripting surveys, and it’s been like that for a long time now. The hoops needed to maintain email deliverability have increased dramatically in the last 3-4 years. It’s a process of constant evolution and keeping up with the latest changes.
Don’t leave sorting the email side of the survey until the last minute.
Take time to ensure you are emailing the relevant people to take part (for example remove ex-customers). It is as important to remove old emails, bounced addresses, spam complaints and dummy data… These impact email deliverability which directly affect survey response rate.
7. Your brand is a precious commodity
Surveylab is all one word, beginning with a capital S. No space, lab is all lowercase!
(also it’s .co.uk)
It upsets me more when people can’t spell their own company name right though. Take a bit of care, and pride, in what you share with others. First impressions count.
8. Why Surveylab?
In 2001, the company I was working for changed its name to e-Satisfy. In the dotcom boom, this was considered a great name for a long established company regarded for its customer loyalty research services.
One evening, while looking up alternative available domains, Surveylab came up. The old company went back to its old name in the end (TARP), but Surveylab stuck with me: about 18 months later, Surveylab was born.
9. Employee recognition is undervalued
We see this play out in employee survey data all the time.
Recognition comes in many shapes and sizes. It helps someone see that they are valued and playing a role in their team and their organisation.
Occasionally, we see short stories in the comments about well meaning attempts to recognise employees falling short, and instead of strengthening sense of belonging it has fed a feeling of “them & us”.
The better managers score higher for timely and relevant feedback. Recognition feeds the team culture and performance.
10. Opportunities to learn are everywhere
It took me a while to recognise that what I do at my hockey club (coaching, Chairman) supports my day job. And yes, there are deeper lessons than clichés about being on a team!
Keep your eyes – and ears – open. Don’t overlook what you do as a hobby or a passion project. These experiences and observations can be a rich source of transferrable knowledge and skills, offering lessons that you don’t get at a desk.
In part 2:
- Do what you say you’ll do
- People thrive in the right environment
- The ones we don’t remember…
- Requests For Proposals? No thanks
- Don’t use URL Shorteners in surveys
- Understand the problem
- Freelancers are awesome
- The future?
- Feedback is a gift
- The best survey is…
If you need an online survey, you’re in the right place. Can we help?