Survey Says: The Benefits of Asking Your Alumni Network for Input
Surveying alumni consistently will result in measurable data for a Corporate Alumni Program and provide valuable insight into the health of that community.
How do you know what the members of your alumni network want?
By understanding what your members value you’ll be better prepared to create content the community wants. Surveys also aid in telling the return-on-investment story to executives and are a great way to get feedback to tailor your program and keep alumni engaged. For all of these reasons, the process of creating and fielding surveys needs to be carefully planned. Reach out too often or at the wrong time and your members will hit the delete button quickly. Ask for input too infrequently and you won’t have the data you need to drive your program effectively.
A PeoplePath client reports that by surveying members, they can map alumni member feedback to program goals. By consistently asking members what they want, the company has seen alumni engagement increase, especially in key metrics such as likelihood to refer business which they grew nearly 15% in just a few years.
Conduct Surveys Consistently
Whatever tempo you adopt for how often you survey your alumni members, consistency is vital. Many organizations choose to conduct a comprehensive annual survey at the same time each year to assess the value of program elements and solicit input on topics or benefits that are of interest to members. Some will opt to conduct a large survey every two years and offer incentives such as Amazon gift cards.
Other organizations reach out quarterly with informal questions targeted around specific topics such as a desire for new benefits or how often they would like to receive correspondence from the organization. This can be done through a poll or comments on a post in the platform, but is casual in nature.
Define Your Goals and Design Your Questions
The first step when writing a survey is to figure out what type of feedback will be useful to how you manage your program. What questions are you trying to answer in your organization?
- Are you seeking input on the value of current program elements such as newsletters, portal, events, and/or benefits programs? Ask questions with a rating scale or answer options for how often the respondent accesses the content.
- Are you soliciting interest in program elements in development such as events, professional development opportunities, or networking capabilities? Ask open-ended question about what they’d like to see offered by your program.
- Curious about your levels of communications? Surveys are also a good way to ask members how often they want to hear from you and through what communication vehicles (newsletter, portal, social media, texts, etc.).
- Want to know what actions alumni are taking such as are they likely to return, refer a candidate, or refer new business? Ask these on a scale for alumni to give you quantifiable feedback.
It’s also useful to include an open-ended question so alumni can easily provide feedback on other topics not covered by the survey questions.
Close the Loop and Share the Results
When you conduct surveys, you are asking members to invest a bit of their time. Let them know their input is appreciated and incorporated into your decision-making process in the survey introduction or initial email. If you can offer an incentive such as a gift card or donation to a nonprofit, this goes a long way in survey result responses.
Send a thank-you message as soon as a member completes the survey. Then follow-up with the aggregate results of the survey as part of your regular communications so respondents can see what others think. Then, highlight how survey responses impacted specific program elements as you roll them out so respondents can see that their voices matter.
Consistent Feedback Drives Results
Asking your members for feedback is a great way to create and nurture an alumni program that produces value for them and your organization. With the raw data, producing a report for internal stakeholders to review will help bring the community further into the organization and its goals.