We’ve hit a tipping point.
In research conducted by Nonfiction Research this past November, we learned that more than 50% of self-identified marketing experts were more likely to read the research conducted by another company on that company’s customers than they were to review research on their own customers.
It sparks a Naughty by Nature chorus in my head, but once I’m past it, this data point always brings me back to the same point:
Why are we so averse to asking our customers what they want, what they’re looking for, and what got in the way?
The answer is simple and unsurprising: why bother asking when you have troves of data available to you everywhere. Analytics. Third-party data. Research. *Cough* Thought leadership.
More than half of us are willing to read Other People’s Research instead of reading our own because it’s abundantly available, it’s beautifully written, and as a result … it’s easy.
It’s also lazy.
Reading about the responses, thoughts, and feedback of 100 people who aren’t your customers will pale in comparison to having one meaningful interaction with one of your own customers.
Reading is easy. It’s time consuming, but easy. Getting customer feedback used to be hard and time consuming. Nowadays, it’s neither. There’s no excuse.
So why are we trending past the tipping point and well in the wrong direction?
The Importance, Power, and Skill of Asking Customers Questions
“There’s a growing recognition that the skill most needed today, to make sense of the extraordinary, unparalleled amount of information at our fingertips is also one of the oldest skills in the world — the ability to formulate and ask the right question.”
Dan Rothstein, Author and Co-Director, The Right Question Institute
Any time I think of curiosity. Of making sense of things. And, of the NBA Playoffs (and Free Agency), I think of the time I spent working with the Right Question Institute.
For years, RQI has been the world’s leading advocate of making it possible for all people to learn to ask better questions as a way to participate more effectively in key decisions.
The Right Question Institute made me thoughtful about the power of the question. Simply convincing people to ask can balance power in everything from education to social services to politics.
I asked Co-Director Dan Rothstein to share his thoughts on how the importance of questions has gained momentum overall.
I was especially interested in how it relates to our Crazy Egg audience. Our base runs the gamut of business folks, marketers, product people, and engineers – basically anyone paying attention to their own customers.
Here’s how he walked me through the rise of “question-focused” thought leadership in business.
The Rise of Question-Focused Thought Leadership
When Warren Berger wrote “A More Beautiful Question” in 2014, he found himself at the big bang moment for the importance of question-asking in business. Data was exploding, and specifically, Big Data was becoming more and more of a thing.
But as Big Data gained Google Trend and business jargon momentum, people quickly realized that data and data storage was going to be a commodity.
The value was going to be what you were able to glean from the data. What you were able to learn from the data. What you were able to ignore from the data.
The value of Big Data was going to come from the questions you asked of the data.
The greater your potential to ask good questions, the greater your potential to get good outcomes. And for those who had the ability to ask the right question for their goals and pursuits, well, consider their opportunities transformative.
Smarter Than You Think
Technology journalist Clive Thompson found his way to the power of questions at the same time as Warren Berger, but through a different route in his book “Smarter Than You Think.”
Socrates’ primary concern was that people would write things down instead of remembering them. “This discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories,” Plato quotes him as saying. “They will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves.”
Thompson counters that Socrates failed to foresee “the types of complex thought that would be possible once you no longer needed to mentally store everything you’d encountered,” and he surmises that the same will turn out to be true of our ability to digitally store and easily access huge amounts of information and memories outside of our own brains. “What’s the line between our own in-brain knowledge and the sea of information around us?” he asks. “Does it make us smarter when we can dip in so instantly? Or dumber with every search?”
So what was Thompson’s answer to the query of, “How should you respond when you get powerful new tools for finding answers?”
“Think of harder questions.”
How to Think of Harder Questions to Get to the Right Questions
Learning to ask questions is an ongoing pursuit. As new baselines are established and new answers received, the next step is a better question – a harder question, on the path to the right question.
As a business person, isn’t that where you find yourself today?
With the explosion of tools and technologies at your fingertips, it’s so much easier for you to find answers.
The easy availability of answers is why a majority of people are willing to find and use other people’s answers rather than seek out their own.
Which is a fair exercise, but it’s not the most productive or rewarding one. Per Thomson, we should be spending less time in search of easier answers and more time asking harder questions.
Note: It’s important to mention that Thompson and Berger were standing on the shoulders of Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana, who had been advocating for the power of the question ever since they became Co-Directors of The Right Question Institute.
Are You Doing Customer Surveys Wrong?
For all that we’ve been leaning on easy answers and available research from other companies, we haven’t shied away from asking customers survey questions.
The challenge is, we’ve gotten lazy about it and we’ve taken the easy way out.
Enabled by technology, we’ve focused on overwhelming customers with surveys. And not only surveys, but the number of survey questions of extraordinary depth and length within each survey.
We’ve looked at surveys as replacements for customer interactions instead of a way to pay attention to the people we should be paying attention to.
As a result, fewer people are starting surveys, fewer people are completing surveys, and the quality of surveys completed is suffering.
Consider this: Not only are we asking more from our customers to the point of overwhelming them and degrading the quality of surveys, we’re not even paying attention to the research that comes out of these surveys.
Partnering with SurveyMonkey
And that’s why we decided to partner with SurveyMonkey. Our goal is to make it easier to ask informed questions in targeted and relevant ways.
The benefit of doing so allows you to reduce the number of questions you ask because you already understand the context of the survey being served. You know to target specific users on specific pages because they have or haven’t taken specific actions.
We’re able to elevate both the probability that a survey will be responded to and the quality of that response.
Why use SurveyMonkey Surveys for Website Optimization?
Our goal is to help our customers pay attention to the people visiting their website so they can make the most of every website visit.
As soon as we embraced a ruthless and relentless emphasis on helping the people who rely on Crazy Egg achieve their goals, we started realizing that sometimes delivering the best solution means not building it ourselves.
SuveyMonkey is undeniably the leader in feedback, research, survey, and polling software.
Whether you’re an SMB or an Enterprise, whether your focus is surveys and research, whether you use them to complement your vision and mission – SurveyMonkey is the gold standard and our goal was to bring the best solution to our customers.
Historically our big challenge was both the ability to deploy surveys and the ability to pull data into one environment.
Now, Crazy Egg customers have a one-click integration with SurveyMonkey AND the ability to access SurveyMonkey surveys within Crazy Egg.
All of your data and answers in one place.
The Worst Approach to Surveying Customers … is Choosing Not to Survey Them
I’ve spent a lot of time in this article talking about how to ask harder questions to get to the right question.
But any worry about asking the wrong question shouldn’t hold you back.
Sure, there are objectively bad questions. But they are easily avoided by simply paying attention, being thoughtful, and being brief.
Even though I’ve talked about how customers can be overwhelmed by survey requests, we still firmly believe that the worst approach is choosing not to survey at all.
If you start incrementally, and you focus on targeted, relevant surveys, asking a question will get you insight regardless of whether people choose to answer, because even silence is an answer.
Plus, you can always watch visitor recordings of people who interact with your surveys to see what’s turning them off.
Remember, relying on other companies’ data and research won’t bring you success. Only your customer base can tell you what they need from you so you can learn how to help them achieve your goal.
Below, we have some case studies from Crazy Egg customers who might inspire you with insight on how they approach surveys.
How Hatchbuck uses SurveyMonkey and Crazy Egg Together
Hatchbuck is an easy-to-use CRM and marketing automation platform for small businesses and marketing agencies.
Our hypothesis was that a good portion of our website traffic was marketing agencies. So, we launched a survey asking site visitors what industry they represented.
The survey results proved that our hypothesis was correct. So we redesigned our site to make it simpler for marketing agencies to navigate and quickly find resources specific to their needs.
When we heard that SurveyMonkey was now a part of Crazy Egg, we had one reaction: Perfect!
As part of our optimization efforts, we run surveys on our website fairly frequently. Having a seamless integration between Crazy Egg and SurveyMonkey makes this process super simple to implement, meaning we can get results faster and optimize right away.
Surveys add an additional layer of color to the data we’re tracking in Crazy Egg.
So, while Heatmaps may show you places you can optimize, surveys can help you understand more about the traffic that’s landing on your website, giving you better direction.
As with anything new or anything that takes effort, the most important thing to do is to get started.
Surveys are no different. I suggest choosing a single goal and aligning your survey to that goal.
For instance, if you want to increase conversion rates on your site, you might ask, “Why did you leave?”
On the other hand, if you want to make sure that your messaging and your website visitors are aligned, you might ask questions around the type of business your visitors represent.
When you’re designing your survey, you want the most respondents and the best data possible. Using close-ended questions, like multiple choice, can help you analyze your survey data much more quickly than asking long, open-ended questions.
Also, eliminating barriers, like requiring a name and email address, can help increase respondents.
Pay attention to your call-to-action, too. We’ve found that a detailed CTA like, “Take a one-question survey” performs much better than “Share your feedback.”
Finally, if you’re wondering if anyone will actually take the time to complete a survey, the answer is yes. You’re giving your visitors a chance to be heard, and a lot of people will be generous with their time and feedback.
The SurveyMonkey integration is obviously new, but we’re just getting started.
We’ll continue to use surveys to optimize our website, create industry reports we can share with our audience, and ensure we’re serving our customer base with the best product and user experience in our industry.
How strongDM Found Success with SurveyMonkey Website Optimization Surveys
strongDM makes it easy for DevOps teams to manage and monitor access to every database, server, and Kubernetes cluster.
strongDM is preferred by people who prioritize ease of use, so we rely on an open line of communication with customers to keep us honest.
The easier it is to solicit and receive feedback, the better our product becomes. Surveys are one of our most powerful tools as evidenced by the fact that we launch unique surveys most weeks.
Just this morning we received a reply that included a powerful suggestion to enhance our temporary database access for on-call teams. Without surveys and the power of SurveyMonkey and Crazy Egg, we would not have captured this feedback.
The beauty of what Crazy Egg has achieved with SurveyMonkey is in the marriage of subjective and objective measures for a more complete assessment of engagement.
Feedback loops are essential because the tighter your feedback loop is with customers, the more effective your messaging becomes.
With the integration of Surveys within Crazy Egg, we’re certain they’ll continue to be an integral part of our product marketing and roadmap planning — as well as one of the clearest and most effective ways to get quick, timely, relevant customer feedback.
Surveys by SurveyMonkey are a part of Every Paid Crazy Egg Plan
Already a Crazy Egg customer? You’re one click away from connecting SurveyMonkey (including a SurveyMonkey Free Plan) to your Crazy Egg suite.
Want to Try Crazy Egg Free for 30 Days? Click here for a risk-free 30-day Trial with all the bells and whistles.
Get five kinds of Heatmaps, User Recordings, A/B Testing, a WYSIWYG Editor … and now, Surveys. Crazy Egg is the only tool on the market that helps you close the loop and take action on the insights you receive.
We’re also the only tool that approaches pricing by only charging you for the Pages and visitors you want to track (as opposed to anyone who visits your website).
Remember, the road to asking the right question starts with asking any question. The important part is to just start.