All businesses are in the service industry. Regardless of the product or service type, you’re offering your customers something in exchange for their time and money. You’re offering them an experience. And if you’re providing them with the wrong experience, you’ll soon find yourself out of business. Thwart small business failure by really paying attention to what your customers think. Larger corporations know the value of feedback and spend millions of dollars a year getting it. You don’t have to spend a fortune on research, data and focus groups if you take advantage of regularly surveying your customers. The problem with this is the sheer volume of data you’re potentially gathering. As a small business owner, sorting through piles of data is the last thing you need to be wasting your valuable time on – all the more reason to invest in survey software that gets the job done for you. Survey Software that Gets the Job Done We would be remiss to not mention the Benchmark Email Survey and Poll features that allow users to customize surveys and polls and send them via email or post them directly online. With a combination of question styles and the ability to track user engagement with real-time metrics, these features come free with Benchmark\'s email marketing and social integration software. For a total survey software solution, SurveyMonkey is one of the most popular survey software tools and attracts a large user base through diversified services. They offer market research, event planning, customer feedback, product planning, as well as education and training. Going beyond just customer surveys, their market research tool allows small business owners to get a competitive industry edge and drive their business forward. Allowing for event planning is what makes this survey software far more valuable than just a software tool – it thinks ahead and anticipates your needs, providing you with multiple solutions through just one software. Luckily SurveyMonkey is also wallet-friendly. Their Basic plan allows you to sign up for free with an allotted 10 questions per survey and a max of 100 responses. Get real-time results and collect data through multiple platforms such as weblinks, emails, Facebook or directly embed links within your website. From thereon plans range between Select (for $16.99/month) and Gold (at $24.99/month), both of which include varying levels of logistic capabilities necessary for more analytical needs. Feedback Server is definitely not for beginners. It’s a bit more technical and not as user-friendly, requiring a little bit of elbow grease to understand. The software is ideal for small business owners that need more design control, security, as well as deployment, collection and reporting options. While it’s a more technical software, Feedback Server is a great survey software solution for business owners that aren’t just ‘curious’ about what their customers think but who really want to synthesize and utilize the data to optimize their efforts and drive their business forward. Business owners will have to be ready to pay the cost of collecting data with such precision. Feedback Server will cost you a one-time fee of $1,999. What you get in return is up to 10 accounts to create/manage surveys, the ability to run on your own server, run on an unlimited number of sites per server, design an unlimited number of questions, collect an unlimited number of respondents and handle an unlimited number of reports. This software is so focused on data gathering that you might need to hire a part-time person to manage the surveys and findings. Offer Survey Incentives to Get the Most Feedback No one works for free – not if they can help it; and taking a survey is much like taking a test; it can be a long tedious process for which there’s no immediate reward. Instead of assuming your clients are going to take your survey, entice them into it by offering a reward of some type for their efforts. You can offer a discount, access to a special promotion or even an entry into a drawing in exchange for and as a thank you for their time and feedback. Plus, your customers will love you that much more for recognizing that their time is valuable. The goal of survey taking is to get a large sample of replies and gauge your median from that pool. To get balanced results you have to be strategic in making the most of your survey software.