When the economy doesn’t look too good and when people are focused on staying healthy, and worrying about coronavirus in particular, businesses can take one of two actions: go into crisis mode and cut back on everything (activities, spending, people) or they lean into it and make short term choices to adjust their long term strategy.
No matter whether you send surveys as part of marketing or as part of your people operations and HR activities, the question most people are asking themselves is: should I be sending surveys to people who are really busy right now?
Well, we’ve got a bunch of useful ways to think about this and also we'll take a look at the results of a survey we did of doopoll customers, friends and communities we're part of.
What is a survey for?
A good place to start thinking about this question is by asking what the point of a survey is at all.
The most meaningful reason that people survey is to collect feedback at scale. Unlike other forms of talking to customers such as anecdotal feedback or customer metrics; or talking to staff in direct contact meetings or 1 on 1 reviews, surveys allow you to gather lots of insights into a big audience and then analyse the responses to identify smaller trends.
This work then feeds into your other projects and, if necessary, gives you a great place to begin a more personal conversation.
Because of this unique system, surveys are the perfect way to talk to your customers and employees at the moment. While social distancing and work from home protocols are in place, you can get a pulse of your different audiences with surveys – no face-to-face contact necessary.
How are you aligned to the problem?
The second useful way to think about whether you should be sending surveys to customers and staff at the moment is to ask yourself how you align to the problems that people are facing at the moment.
Here’s some personal experience: I’ve recently received heaps of emails and blog posts from companies who are suddenly experts in something or other related to Coronavirus, but sell products or services that are totally unrelated.
You’re probably the same as me in thinking that this feels totally disingenuous. These companies, more than likely, are using a global disaster to generate some web page visits. Which is… not great.
On the other hand, we spent the first week of the Coronavirus crisis talking with customers about how they were feeling about engaging with their customers and their employees and discovered that we are actually really aligned to the problems they’re facing: disconnection, wanting to ask questions, needing answers quickly.
We discovered how we were aligned to the problem by listening at scale with a doopoll survey on attitudes to engaging during coronavirus (more on that in a moment), and then created a plan for how we could help where we are uniquely placed to do so.
So ask yourself, how are you and your company uniquely aligned to the problem?
Communicating during coronavirus: our survey results
As mentioned above, we asked our customers about the questions other people were asking us about this topic.
Actually, we surveyed all of our customers and also posed the same set of questions to social media communities and closed forums that we’re part of.
I’m going to share some of the things we discovered now and I hope this is helpful for you. We will update this post as the crisis unfolds and new data comes in.
A lot of people are concerned about contacting their customers at the moment. This happens for a number of reasons.
The first is that they’re worried that in tough times, prompting a conversation with their customers may lead to their customer reviewing their spend and potentially cancelling services. The second is that they’re worried about whether they’re going to bother customers who are already busy with other things like trying to salvage contracts and manage cashflow.
People are actively talking to customers
Encouragingly, when we asked “How actively are you talking to your customers/service users/stakeholders at the moment?”, the overwhelming majority (80%) said that they are in active contact with customers.
People think it is fine for companies to survey customers
The results were also clear when we asked about whether or not companies should be surveying customers at this time.
In fact, 62% said that it was OK to survey customers at the moment with only 38% saying it was not.
Further to that 48% of respondents felt that customers should be doing more to survey customers at this moment.
People think it is good for employers to survey employees
Of the people surveyed, only 14% are working remotely for the first time. Many people, are already remote or have worked remotely in the past.
So it’s no surprise that they weren’t phased by being sent surveys by their employers.
Actually, 69% of people said it was OK to survey your employees at the moment. And 47% of them said employers should be doing more to survey employees.
We’ll be sharing more results from our survey of businesses over the next few weeks and months. Make sure you sign up to our newsletter to get notified of new posts about this. You can do that at bottom of the page or on our blog homepage.
You absolutely should feel good about talking to customers and employees
Beyond all the data, and the expert opinions, times like the ones that we’re facing right now tell us a lot about ourselves and how we see the world.
My hope for all of this is that we emerge from a total disaster, firmly resolved to draw closer to each other as fellow human beings. Not merely as customers and employees, but that we listen to each other both individually and at scale more frequently, more deeply.
It is vital that we keep tabs on how our customers and employees are doing right now. Attitudes are changing so frequently and normality is shifting at a dizzying pace.
Use surveys as a way to allow people to interact with you voluntarily, and at scale. But don’t forget to also check in with the small group of people who are closest to you professionally and personally in a more intimate way.
Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. DM your colleagues on Slack. Encourage each other when it’s most needed.
Most of all, be kind.