Business Productivity

Not another customer survey!

- February 27, 2015 2 MIN READ

Surveys are easy

Let’s face it. A customer survey is easy to put together, easy for customers to complete, easy to collate results and easy to pull out of the archives to reuse. But is ‘easy’ really the right reason to do something? 

Have you ever wondered whether customers are providing accurate information in surveys? Or, whether there are nuggets of gold within the things they aren’t saying? And is it sometimes the case that customers don’t quite know what they want yet, resulting in inexact survey results? 

Customer survey alternatives

Let’s consider some alternative methods and sources for soliciting customer feedback that might not be immediately obvious. 

A/B testing

This is a common tactic employed by tech startups, and it’s a genius strategy!

Instead of asking customers what could work, you implement two approaches for a concept in a controlled manner, each with its own set of customers in order to compare results.

You can A/B test anything from content to alternative signup processes. For example, you might wonder whether an alternative homepage design will yield more customer interest. Instead of asking customers whether they prefer a proposed design, you can implement the page, show it randomly to a select group of users for a period of time, and monitor their behaviour. This method allows you to experiment and simultaneously solicit actual feedback.


If you’re not using analytics to monitor customer behaviour on your website then you should pause reading this article and set up a service right now.

Analytics will tell you a lot. You can see where prospective customers are leaving your site, what services they are considering, what they’re not interested in and more. You can then view or compare test results if you change your website content. It’s a powerful and relatively inexpensive way to capture actual customer behaviour. You can often glean insights from this that you’d normally never think to ask customers about in a standard “customer feedback” form. 

Complaints box

It’s been said numerous times before: complaints are gifts. This is very true. A complaint is a customer passionately going out of their way to inform you about something you can do better.

You should always make it easy for customers to provide you with feedback. Even a simple dialogue that’s always visible on your website can go a long way. Complaints are often sources for gold. 

Suggestions box

Suggestions are usually ideas or insights that customers have about your business. Suggestions don’t necessarily have to come from the formalities of a suggestion box, in fact they often come from casual, incidental conversations.

The key is to engage in frequent conversations with customers and others about your business, and keep an open mind so you can recognise suggestions which could have a big impact.


This is a great method to employ after you’ve examined analytics, suggestions and prototyping results.

You can select a number of customers and ask them very targeted questions to get qualitative feedback to support the actual quantitative feedback you would have already solicited through other methods.

So there you have it. Next time you think of recycling a past survey or brainstorming questions for your next one, you have some effective, alternative methods at your disposal that can better help you solicit quality customer feedback. 

What are your thoughts on these alternatives to a customer survey?