But, for some reason, it’s not always that straightforward. Some clients might skip questions or answer them incorrectly, while others might want to skip answering the form altogether. Here are some free tools that can make the process easier for both parties:
The first time I heard about SurveyMonkey I knew I could use it to improve the response rate — and the quality of responses — for my client questionnaires. It’s been very useful to me even if I’m only using the free version (the paid monthly plan is $19.95 per month). There are limits to the free version though, such as having only 10 questions and 100 allowed responses per survey. Still, I find that these limits are more than enough for small projects.Your client’s contact information (name, address, email, web site, etc.) is all considered as one question.
One practical feature of this service is that you can identify which questions are optional and which ones are required. When I send out client questionnaires via email, some important fields are often left unanswered, but that hasn’t happened since I started using SurveyMonkey. And, when you’re done working on the project, you can use it to send a client satisfaction survey as well.
Writeboard by 37signals is another app I’ve used for sending client questionnaires. Unlike answering your questions via email, clients don’t have to copy and paste anything or do much scrolling. They just have to type in their answers after each question. This makes it useful for other types of written collaboration as well, such as asking your client to make specific comments on copy, proposals and other text.
Now, why use something like Whiteboard over more feature-rich online writing apps such as Google Docs? First of all, I find that the clean and minimalist interface is more reassuring to clients who aren’t tech savvy. They aren’t worried about clicking the wrong buttons since there’s only one (“Save this Writeboard”). Also, it’s easy to send an invitation that your clients can just click and visit — no need for complex instructions on how to access the app.
The only disadvantage I see is that you can’t analyze client responses collectively and make reports. Still, the simplicity and straightforwardness of the app is enough reason to try it with your more technologically challenged clients.
Your Own Web Site
Alternatively, you can host a questionnaire on your own web site by programming your own form and uploading it. Even if you don’t have programming skills, there are many free apps that can help you do this such as Email Me Form, WuFoo, and MyContactForm. While they also have paid plans, the free plans have enough features for most client surveys.
In the end, the solution you use must depend on your clients. Whichever is easier and faster for them is likely to be the same for you.
What tools do you use to create and send client questionnaires? How have they worked for you?