A recent survey conducted by Süddekor LLC, a laminate and decorative papers manufacturer based in Agawam, Mass., demonstrated the effectiveness of such surveys in generating valuable, applicable customer feedback.

Süddekor leveraged the marketing resources of Winstanley Partners to write a survey to be distributed, via e-mail and survey software, to a select group of customers that use Süddekor for their specialty paper needs.

The survey was designed to measure customer satisfaction and generate original feedback regarding Süddekor products and services. Winstanley utilized various modes of inquiry to ensure that the person being polled would have the best opportunity to answer effectively. Those surveyed were asked to compare products, rate the competition, use scales to estimate their satisfaction, and to give their honest opinion about Süddekor products and services in openended

Fran Vahle, Director of Sales & Marketing with Suddekor, said the company’s management team was pleased with the results the survey returned, as they offered concrete information regarding Suddekor’s customer service practices, product lines, and corporate strategies from the customer point-of-view.

“We found the survey to be very beneficial,” said Vahle. “Not only did it offer us a new avenue through which to connect with our customers, but also helped us to compile useful data that we can refer to when making decisions in the future.” Phil Cohen, project manager with Winstanley Partners, added that the success of any survey is based on the quality of information it extracts from the people being polled. The trick, he said, is how to access that information, and how to analyze it once it has been collected.

“Winstanley worked with Süddekor to generate a ‘long survey,’” Cohen said. “Despite the name, a long survey can last as little as ten minutes, but is more thorough than a simple poll. Each question was carefully developed with the customer’s time in mind; because it’s a specialized industry, we were able to use terminology Süddekor’s customers would understand, and that helped keep the questions simple and to-the-point.”

Cohen noted that Winstanley’s project with Süddekor helped underscore some best practices that can significantly reduce the perception that surveys are intrusive or ineffective: engaging a target audience, generating purposeful questions, creating opportunities to respond to questions and analyze that feedback, and motivating test-takers.

“Perhaps the most surprising result of the survey was the wealth of information collected from open-ended responses,” he said. “One might assume that these types of questions would be least popular because they are optional. On the contrary, the targeted audience was very responsive: approximately 92 percent of those who completed the poll took the time to respond to the open-ended questions.”

To achieve the latter, Süddekor offered a choice of gift for completing the survey: a $20 Visa gift card, a Süddekor golf shirt, or a $20 donation to a charity of Süddekor LLC’s choice in the client’s company name. More than 55% of respondents chose to donate.

“It never hurts to add a little incentive,” said Cohen. “But it also shows people taking the survey that their opinions are both important and valued.”