Diving Into the Pulse Survey to Meet Business Demands

Diving Into the Pulse Survey to Meet Business Demands

Running a pulse survey is key to properly running a business — and running a business is not always a smooth operation. There is a wide breadth of considerations to carefully examine, yet even with continual check-ups, they are still susceptible to going awry.

When you measure the pulse of your business, the premise that the pulse survey hinges on, you are able to keep track of your business and how others engage with it — be they your customers, your partners and your employees.

This article delineates the pulse survey in-depth, so that you can build effective survey studies for your market research needs and be in tune with the pulse of your business.

Defining the Pulse Survey

The pulse survey gauges the pulse of your business, as its moniker indicates. “Pulse” refers to the “motions” the key individuals to your company go through in regards to your business. As such, this survey type must be administered frequently.

Like a biological pulse, the rhythmical throbbing of that which keeps you alive, i.e., blood — a business’s pulse involves understanding the lifeblood of its business. This includes customers’ opinions, employee engagement and sentiment and the thoughts of your vendors and partners. The latter is especially true for a B2B business.

As such, when those in the business world discuss “keeping a pulse” on their company, they are alluding to collecting the feedback surrounding this pulse.

Pulse surveys often refer to employee pulse surveys, which are a kind of employee feedback survey, however, they can collect the pulse from a variety of respondents and serve various purposes. These include:

  1. Evaluating customer satisfaction
  2. Measuring employee satisfaction
  3. Finding the opinions, needs and sentiments of partners, business clients and vendors via B2B surveys
  4. Understanding your content consumers via content marketing strategy 
  5. Getting insights into the operations of your business

The Key Characteristics of a Pulse Survey

What specifically makes up a pulse survey? 

Pulse surveys contain more specifics than merely the key trait of gathering feedback to understand the inner workings of your company. Instead, they include key aspects you need to adhere to when deliberating how you’ll use this survey type and how to create one.  

  1. Marked by frequent check-ins on the same audience.
    1. This can be weekly, monthly, bi-annually, quarterly or set in a custom frequency.
  2. They measure the impacts of small and large occurrences.
  3. The surveys tend to be 3-6 questions in length.
  4. The surveys are concentrated on either a campaign, topic, experience, etc.
  5. They’re used to track trends and hyper-segment your respondents (employees, customers, etc.) similar to market segmentation.
  6. These surveys are used to study changes among opinions, behaviors, attitudes and more within a particular group.
  7. They can be used to compare shifts in opinions among certain segments with consistency in that of others. 

The Importance of Using a Pulse Survey

Incorporating a pulse survey is key to ensuring various successes for your business. There are a number of ways in which the pulse survey benefits your business.

First off, it doesn’t merely tell, but it proves to your respondents that you value their insights. While not many people enjoy taking surveys, a short survey that explains in the intro or call-out that it is being conducted to improve the service/experience for customers lets them know that you pay attention to their needs.

This is beneficial when it comes to vendors and partners, as it gives them the reassurance that they are not merely contractually bound with your business, but that their input matters and that they have a say in the business relationship. 

The same notion applies to employees, the group chiefly used in pulse surveys. Workplace stress is common; in fact 40% of workers reported that their work was extremely stressful. Thus, a pulse survey is necessary to curb workplace stress. It is also crucial to keep employees engaged and satisfied with their work.

After all, a happy workplace won’t incite them to leave the job, whereas a toxic one inevitably will.

As such, relying on a pulse survey grants you the insights you need to keep issues at bay and cater to the needs of your business.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of a Pulse Survey

A pulse survey offers several advantages to a business. If the prior section on the importance of using a pulse survey wasn’t reason enough to start regularly implementing it, the following enumerates even more benefits that this survey provides. Like any business tool, however, there are some downsides to a pulse survey as well, as the following includes.

A pulse survey campaign can help raise revenue by improving customer/partner relationships.

The Advantages

  1. It is deployed periodically, giving you continuous key insights and updates on your target sampling pool.
  2. It identifies current (thus extremely relevant) insights on a wide array of issues and occurrences.
  3. The insights allow you to make much-needed upgrades, corrections and changes on a regular basis.
  4. Because it is employed periodically, you can identify trends and the ways in which your target sampling pool changes.
  5. It helps you understand the impact of events, whether they are large or minor.
  6. It shows you whether new employee policies, updated products or new vendor terms have had positive or negative effects.
  7. It is useful for assessing reactions to recent (or even ongoing) changes.
  8. It allows you to monitor virtually any activity or sentiment.
  9. These surveys tend to be short and thus are easy to create.
  10. Checking on the pulse allows you to zero in on current needs and objectives with a targeted set of questions.

The Disadvantages

  1. Requiring constant updates and feedback can be off-putting for customers, employees, vendors and all else.
  2. When no major event, change or attitude springs from the previous round of pulse surveys, it can be difficult to create new pulse survey targets without coming off as repetitive.
  3. These are not as anonymous or random as other business surveys, as such, some respondents will be reluctant to take them or refuse entirely. 
  4. Less anonymity incurs less honest answers, giving way to survey bias.   

How to Conduct a Pulse Survey 

Creating a pulse survey requires taking several key measures to ensure you carry it out properly and gain the key data that captures your pulse. Here is how to create a pulse survey for your various needs.

  1. Start from scratch by defining the purpose of your pulse survey campaign.
    1. First, lay out the high-level considerations, such as who the targets of the survey are and which area of business you would like to survey.
    2. Then, find something specific and current that you need to check up on.
  2. Decide on the most apt length of your survey.
    1. This should be an approximation since you haven’t created your questions yet.
  3. Create a welcoming call-out and/or intro to your survey so that the respondents will be more inclined to take it. 
    1. Include call-outs such as: “Your feedback means so much to us” and “Help us help serve you.”
    2. For employee pulse: “Let’s make work a better place,” and “Complete this survey so we can improve your work and responsibilities.” 
  4. Create your questionnaire, consisting of 3-6 questions and no more than 10 for longer surveys.
    1. Make sure the questions are relevant to the topic/issue you are checking in about.
    2. Consider your answers; some may prompt follow-up questions while others won’t be relevant to all respondents based on their answers. Thus, apply advanced skip logic.
  5. Determine a suitable survey cadence.
    1. Taking the following into consideration: how often the aspects you’re surveying are subject to change.
    2. How soon you’re going to make changes and if those changes warrant immediate pulse surveys.
  6. Put together a list of positive and negative responses in your survey analysis.
  7. Ideate how to address the negative attitudes, i.e., how to allay them and what to change in your business.
  8. Use advanced people analytics to your pulse data for market segmentation purposes, as well as a deeper read of the pulse.
  9. Share the results.
    1. Review the results with the appropriate team. Ex: partnerships, marketing, HR, the product team, etc.
    2. If you run an employee pulse survey, share the findings with the entire team for the sake of transparency.
  10.  Take action.
    1. After reviewing the results, take any necessary action to improve employee, customer and partner relations and satisfaction.
    2. Make necessary changes to the campaign itself, such as to the cadence, etc.

Pulse Survey Question Tips and Examples

Create questions that are broad (at least the early ones) so that they are pertinent to all the targeted respondents. The idea is to avoid survey bias along with question skipping.

Make sure to include at least one open-ended and one closed-ended question. This is especially useful if a multiple-choice question warrants an explanation, one that cannot always be answered via a follow-up multiple-choice question, but rather one with an open field.

This gives their original responses much more depth and a qualitative component to the survey.

Make sure your questions are specific and use skip logic if need be. Your questions should yield measurable data that creates actionable insights.

Here are a few pulse question examples: 

Pulse Survey Question Examples

  1. Do you feel that the company has done a good job of informing employees about [initiative]? [Yes or no]
    1. If no, use skip logic to route them to an open-question for an explanation.
    2. Target audience: Employees
  2. On a scale of 1-7, how strongly do you agree with the following?: We have effectively managed the recent change in our organization.
    1. Uses a Likert scale
    2. Target audience: Employees
  3. What do you think of our new product feature?
    1. Use nominal answers (varied and not scaled)
    2. Target audience: Customers
  4. How can we better make your holiday shopping experience?
    1. Use nominal answers (varied and not scaled)
    2. Target audience: Customers
  5. How comfortable are you in supplying us [various goods, needs, etc]?
    1. Use a Likert scale and skip logic to an open-question for an explanation of a low rating.
    2. Target audience: Vendors and partners
  6. What are some of the changes you would like to see to ensure a mutually beneficial partnership?
    1. Use an open-ended question.
    2. Target audience: Vendors and partners

Continually Improving Your Business

Regardless if you are a B2C or B2B company, in order to sustain a successful business, you need to monitor the pulse of various issues in your business. Whether it is ensuring a lengthy partnership — one with renewal, achieving a higher CLV (customer lifetime value) among customers or maintaining employee satisfaction, you need to implement a pulse survey campaign.

Such a campaign will enable you to keep a constant check-in on the aspects of your business that matter the most, along with those in need of alterations the most. Either way, deploying a periodic pulse survey to various targets will help you understand the key players of your business.

This will allow you to serve them better and forge business relationships with longevity. 

A successful pulse survey relies on a robust online survey platform. This tool should be able to facilitate a vast amount of survey types and styles and deploy them to the correct audience with ease and little to no effort from the researcher. 

If you have such a tool in hand, you are setting up your business for various successes.