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Three Customer Survey Alternatives for B2B SaaS

Written by Moritz Dausinger, CEO of Refiner

Low completion rates, inaccurate response data, bad UX, ….

At Refiner, we heard all kinds of reasons why customer surveys are not working.

To be honest, we think most of those reasons are not valid (anymore). Assuming you are using the right customer survey tool and respect some guidelines.

There are however use cases where customer surveys are just not the right tool.

In this article we’ll have a look at three customer survey alternatives. We’ll discuss how they stack up against customer surveys and when it makes sense to use them.

Problems with customer surveys

It can be indeed challenging to run a successful survey campaign.

There are a couple of well known problems with customer surveys and pitfalls to avoid.

This is especially true if you are using outdated survey tools that were not designed for modern B2B SaaS companies.

But let’s reserve this for another post. 🙂

Reasons why your customer surveys won’t work include:

  • Prompting customers at the wrong time, with little context
  • Not targeting the right people
  • Asking too many questions

If your customer survey checks any of those points, your survey campaign is poised to fail.

Nobody likes long form questionnaires that you receive out of the blue at a random time. So let’s try to avoid them whenever possible.

Example of a long form customer satisfaction survey (source). Don’t do that and complain about low response rates! 🙂

What you’ll end with is low completion rates and inaccurate responses.

Trust me, we have seen it many times!

Quick spoiler alert: Refiner makes running successful customer surveys a breeze. But more on that in another post.

So let’s explore alternative data collection methods and what to use instead of surveys.

What are alternatives to customer surveys?

Before discussing customer survey alternatives, let’s talk about “customer data” for a second.

We see “customer data” basically as a proxy for “answers to questions you might have”.

What you’re really after are “customer insights”, distilled knowledge derived from raw data.

What that means is that in some cases, you can skip the “ask your customers” part entirely to achieve the same knowledge.

So what are alternative methods to surveys?

Let’s get started! In this post we will cover three popular alternatives to customer surveys.

Product Analytics Tools as an alternative to customer surveys

Product analytics tools like Mixpanel or Amplitude let you monitor user behavior. They tell you what your users are doing within your app, and equally import what they don’t do.

Next to identifying engaged users, Product Analytics Tools let you answer questions like:

  • Which features are popular
  • Where do users get stuck
  • How much time to they spend in your app

Capturing behavioral insights without bothering your customers is huge and we are big fans tracking user behaviour for product research.

Video presenting Mixpanel, a well known Product Analytics tool

However …

Product Analytics solutions cannot tap into the users’ minds and don’t tell you what and how your user thinks.

Tracking product engagement tells you “what” your users do, but not “why” they do it.

Data Enrichment APIs as customer survey alternatives

The promise of Customer Data Enrichment APIs is fantastic. Maybe too good to be true?

You provide them with an email address or company name, and seconds later you’ll receive tons of valuable data points.

Given an email address, Clearbit returns up to 100+ customer traits (e.g. name, position, industry, …).

Excepts … data provided by data enrichment providers like Clearbit is rather generic.

Is it enough to pre-qualify a lead … yes!

For other use-cases the data is likely too generic and not accurate enough though.

Let’s take a concrete example. Knowing the company size of a lead is great. Company size is a data point you can typically get from a lead data enrichment solution. And it’s a great piece of information.

But wouldn’t it be even better if you could know how big the team of your lead is? Or how much projects they are managing per month?

You get the idea.

Enrichment data is often times too generic to be valuable.

That being said, we still think that data enrichment can be a great alternative to surveying your customers.

Chatbots as an alternative to online surveys

Chatbots are great!

At Refiner, we don’t “love” them, but we think there many use cases where Chatbots do an excellent job.

However, customer surveys is not one of them.

Most chatbot tools allow you to ask your users multiple choice questions.

When a user answers those question, they can either be used to guide the user through a “conversation”, or they can be stored in a database.

But as the name suggest, Chatbots are all about starting (or avoiding) a conversation with customer. They are perceived as a conversation tool and not a survey tool.

This is a problem, because users who are not in the mood of chatting with someone, simply won’t interact with them.

In general, Chatbots seem to have a terrible low engagement rate these days.

We don’t have any numbers to back up this claim and we can only talk for ourselves, but it seems like most people just ignore them these days.

In our opinion, capturing data with Chatbots can be a nice byproduct, but it is not a full replacement for customer surveys.

Get to know your users

Refiner is a customer survey tool built for data driven SaaS brands. Collect user insights on the fly with our beautiful Micro Surveys. Then, use that data to better segment your users and trigger automations.

Conclusion

We looked at three different ideas to replace customer surveys with alternative data collection methods:

  1. Product Analytics Tools
  2. Data Enrichment APIs
  3. Chatbots

What we learned is that you might actually not need survey data at all.

If any of the methods we covered lets you generate the customer insights you need, that’s great! Why would you bother asking your customers questions in this case?

But are these methods really a replacement for customer surveys?

Frankly, we don’t think so.

None of the customer survey alternatives we covered in this articles offers you all three traits:

  • High response rate
  • Accurate data
  • Ask any question

Only customer surveys – if done right – will check all three requirements.

There is good news though.

Modern customer survey tools like Refiner make it easy to run innovative contextual user surveys (a.k.a. as “Micro-Surveys“) that help you grow your SaaS.

Sounds interesting?

Start a free trial today and reach out if you have any questions.