The Flawed Logic With Post-Conference Surveys
Have you ever attended a short educational event only to receive a 45-question survey a few weeks after the event is over?
As an attendee, what’s that experience like? I don’t know about you, but I am usually back in the trenches at work and can’t remember if I felt inspired after the keynote session or what I thought of the third breakout session I attended on Day 2.
A typical conference survey may include:
- The food
- The general session
- Each session
- Each speaker
- Each handout
- And, and, and….
Sure, it’s great that conference organizers want to know my opinion, but sometimes I think the logic is flawed when they send out these surveys:
Flawed Logic One – Sending out surveys way after the event
Attendees have a hard time remembering all the details (two weeks later), so the responses you get might be just guesses or empty.
Flawed Logic Two – Ask lots of questions
We’ve tried longer surveys here at Omnipress when we’ve benchmarked important trends. But we learned our lesson and shortened them up when we discovered that long surveys tend to be aborted leaving you with incomplete information and less respondents.
Flawed Logic Three – Lots of feedback will give us lots of answers
A long survey takes forever to create (especially if you have to have committee members approve), and it takes even longer (and perhaps the services of a statistician) to slice and dice the responses.
Conferences – What Really Matters
So, here’s the big question: What information are you really looking for? And, more importantly, isn’t there only one question you really want to know the answer to?
<pause and think about it>
If you did your job and delivered a memorable experience for your attendees, your big question should revolve around whether they are highly likely to return and tell others. This is why I admire the Net Promoter score – a straightforward loyalty metric that holds companies accountable for how they treat customers (event organizers should think of attendees, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors as customers). The opportunity here is to get to the point about how your customers really feel about your event in a single question.
On a 1 to 10 rating scale: “How likely is it that you would recommend our event to a friend or colleague?”
Based on their responses, customers are categorized into one of three groups:
- Promoters (9-10 rating) – are loyal and advocating
- Passives (7-8 rating) – are somewhat loyal, but have mixed feelings
- Detractors (0-6 rating) – are not loyal and possibly negative
The percentage of Detractors is then subtracted from the percentage of Promoters to obtain a Net Promoter score. A score of 75% or above is considered quite high.
Now I am not going to advocate you don’t ask other questions because asking just one question doesn’t really give you any insights on how to improve your event. My marketing sense tells me you need to ask a few other open-ended questions regarding the core reasons why people attend meetings (networking and learning).
- What educational sessions did you like the best?
- How could we improve our education?
- What did you like the most regarding the networking opportunities?
- How could we improve the networking experience?
- What did you like most about the overall event?
- What could we do to make this event better?
I know you can’t easily quantify open-ended questions, but you can group the responses into buckets to see what floats to the top. Unlike radio or check-box style questions which can influence your respondents, the open-ended question allows them to share what they think.
Here’s an example: In the restaurant industry, Noodles & Co solicits feedback using the Net Promoter approach and just a few questions. It allows the customer to place value on the topics that are most important to them. And then, allows the customer to share their opinion for each topic.
Oh, and back to the timing of this survey. Two weeks after the event is two weeks too late! This survey should be sitting in your customer’s inbox while the event experience is fresh in their minds. Or better yet, capture attendees’ feedback before they leave for the airport and get back into work mode.
Let me ask…
- Do you think you the concept behind Net Promoter plus a handful of open-ended questions would work for your event?
- What reservations do you have about it?
- How else would you measure loyalty?
I am curious to what challenges you have with your current feedback process.