Six Ways Online Surveys Can Help Startups and Small Businesses

Article Summary

  • Gathering feedback from customers, employees and other stakeholders is critical for any business, and that is especially true for a small business or startup whose company is evolving quickly.
  • Deploying online surveys helps you understand your target audience, measure customer satisfaction, improve the customer experience, engage with customers from diverse backgrounds, get feedback on your employees, and measure employee performance, among other benefits.
  • Using an online survey tool like SurveyMethods allows you to quickly and easily deploy a survey and analyze the data in real-time.


Starting a business requires hard work, a rock-solid plan, and a lot of guts to take the risk in the first place. Whether you’re a sole entrepreneur or a 100-person company, it is critical to understand your customers’ needs even (or especially) when you don’t have that many of them.

Business owners often say to me “I speak with my customers all day – why would I need to run an online survey?” The answer lies in psychology: we as humans do not like confrontation or letting people down, so in person we tell you what you want to hear rather than what you need to hear. You as a business owner get the impression that everything is perfect, only to never see that customer again, not having any idea what caused them to leave. The same goes for employees who may seem happy one day and quit the next.

Online surveys are not a substitute for face-to-face interaction, but they provide a way for customers and other stakeholders to provide much-needed feedback in an impersonal and often anonymous way, leading to more candid responses. Further, receiving responses in an electronic format, and using a tool like SurveyMethods, allows you to quickly and easily see trends or patterns that may not be as obvious anecdotally.

So, without further ado, here are six ways you can use surveys to add value to your startup or small business:

 1.  Understand your target audience

Researching your audience helps every type of business, and you shouldn’t limit yourself simply because you aren’t a large business. As a small business owner, you want to make sure that you’re making products that people need, and market research is the best way to do that. Online surveys are a quick, cost-effective solution to get into the minds of your target audience and gain the insights you need to make smart business decisions. Discover what customers in your target market have to say about trends and buying habits, ask them what they think of your product, services, or brand, if they’d like to see any changes, your areas of improvement and so on. Market research surveys are also a great way to get into new markets, find out what your competitors are doing, and what you can do to gain a foothold.

If you don’t have enough customers to get valuable feedback, consider working with a panel company to receive feedback from a diverse group of people who match your target customer audience. Contact us at SurveyMethods if you’d like us to help you with the process.

2.  Measure customer satisfaction

One of the biggest assets of a business is a satisfied and loyal customer base, and small businesses are no different. But how do you know if your customers are happy? How do you know what they think about you? Surveys help you gather the feedback you need and leverage that to improve customer experience.

There are a variety of ways small businesses can use customer satisfaction surveys. Whether you are a healthy startup, a budding entrepreneur, or a recruitment agency building your team, surveys help to gauge customer satisfaction and measure it over time. Discover if your offerings provide value to customers, the changes that you need to make, what you could do better in the future, strengths to continue to build on, and if they are willing to recommend you to their friends and colleagues. Further, studies have proven that customer satisfaction surveys, if done the right way, help you uncover customers’ innermost thoughts that no other medium could possibly do. Asking customers about their satisfaction with your products and services provides you with valuable information that can be used to build relationships and improve customer retention.

3.  Improve customer experience

When it comes to improving customer experience, following up with your customers right after their interaction with your company like a purchase or a subscription cancelation helps to reinforce their relationship with your company and fix any underlying problems right away. Picture this: A customer canceled his subscription with your service after using it for a few weeks. Sending a follow-up survey to the customer to find out why he has canceled his subscription with you shows the customer that you value him. This becomes more crucial when dealing with displeased customers. In every customer touchpoint, creating a great experience for your customers is imperative to help build referrals, instill customer loyalty, improve retention, and grow your business. You may not get that customer back, but you will learn more about why they left, which will help you with future customers.

4.  Engage customers from diverse backgrounds

No two markets will have the same needs and interests. Online surveys are a cost-effective solution to understand diverse markets or customers with common needs and interests by grouping them into segments so you can address each segment to its full potential. Your “segments” can be based on any measurable attribute like geographical location, demographics, behavior, and psychographics.

For example, you may want to use a survey to gather information from customers belonging to a specific age group and gender and living in a certain region. Targeting specific customer segments allows you to understand their needs and behavior and connect with them on a more personal level. This helps you make smarter business decisions and develop marketing strategies that resonate with your customers.

5.  Get feedback on your employees

As a business owner, you will always want to ensure that your customers have a great experience every time they interact with your company. Imagine a customer calls your support team to fix issues with her laptop, and is satisfied with the service that she has received. Another customer calls the same team member for a different issue with his laptop, but his experience was different. Sending a survey to customers gives them a way to provide feedback about their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the service, knowledge and friendliness of the staff, and if their issue was solved quickly and thoroughly. Analysis of the survey’s results will help you gauge your team’s performance, spot any flaws in your customer service strategy, and use this information to enhance your service. You can also reward team members that consistently go above and beyond, improving employee retention.

6.  Measure employee performance with 360-degree feedback

360-degree feedback aims to get a more holistic assessment of employees’ performance from people who work with them. This typically includes the employee’s manager, peers, coworkers, clients, and anyone else that the employee works with. Though many leaders and HR professionals argue on the effectiveness of 360-degree reviews, with the right online survey solutions, small organizations can benefit from them in a number of ways. Conducting 360-degree surveys lets small organizations get a more accurate picture of employees’ strengths and weaknesses, performance and productivity, knowledge, behavior, communication, listening and planning skills and so on. Analyze the survey results to identify improvement areas and create a training and development plan tailored to the employees’ needs. This approach benefits the employees by developing new skills and has a positive impact on the organization.

These are just some examples of the different ways online surveys can be used by small businesses. There are several other areas that small businesses can use surveys, like receiving product feedback from employees, gathering information about candidates you’re looking to hire, or use surveys as a tool for tracking employee progress over time.


Online surveys are an excellent tool to connect with customers and gather feedback, and that’s why they should be a part of every business, large or small. Online tools such as SurveyMethods make it easy to build and deploy a survey in minutes. Regardless of your reasons for deploying a survey, you’ll be able to gather and analyze real-time data and implementation actions to improve your business processes. Moreover, conducting periodic surveys help to track and understand trends and customer satisfaction over time, and view if the changes that you have made to improve your business are paying off. Not running surveys means not having the data to make the critical decisions for your business.


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