Online customer research is essential for measuring and monitoring customer satisfaction. It is also cost-effective and ensures a swift return of data. You can reach your online customers in three main ways: online surveys, individual feedback and emailshots. Once you have decided which you wish to use, the next step is to draw up a questionnaire.

Online surveys

Placing a page on your website dedicated to feedback is probably the quickest way of finding out what your customers think. When designing the feedback page, make sure that its design is consistent with the rest of your site and that it does not take too long to download (if any time at all). Pages should look and feel professional, and be easy to read and understand.

As overall customer satisfaction is the most important issue, it is usually best to raise this first in the survey. Multiple-choice questionnaires are a good option as they require minimum time and effort by the user. Always look for ways to improve and update your questionnaire in line with new developments on your site or in the world at large, but try to keep the quantitative questions unchanged. Try to keep the survey short so that users need spend no longer than a couple of minutes responding.

Reward your customers

Many customers will not respond to surveys and mail shots unless there's something in it for them. By offering incentives and promotions such as gifts and give-aways, you will encourage customers to give you information and ideas.

Individual feedback

A single comment can make a big difference so encourage all your users to feedback; by using the 'contact us or 'e-mail your comments' button on your website. A newsletter is also a good way of encouraging feedback.

Emailshots

Emailshots to your customer database is a cheap and effective method of getting feedback. Apply the same rules to emailshots as the online surveys. Customers who reply are also likely to return to the site.