eTip #28

Winning Your Audience Through Surveys

Survey says…

Your customers and employees define your brand, but it is your job to manage your brand.

So how can organizations make sure the customers’ and employees’ feedback is being heard? In this month’s eTip, we interviewed Joe Grey, Assistant Vice President of Communications at Firstmark Credit Union in San Antonio on using survey tools to get to know what your customers and employees really want you to hear.

BMC: How long have you been working in internal communications and how did you get started?

Grey: Five years, so I’m relatively new to this. I worked as a business journalist for 10 years. One thing that compelled me to move from journalism to internal communications is that I wanted to have more direct contact with the “audience.”

BMC: How can an organization benefit from using survey tools with their employees?

Grey: Surveys provide companies of any size with a time-sensitive and anonymous way to collect information.

On the simplest level, my company, Firstmark Credit Union, uses surveys to gauge employee interests, measure the success of classes and events, and measure understanding. Would you be interested in X? What suggestions do you have for improving this class? Are your aware of our pension plan benefit? These types of surveys are easy to conduct.

On a more complex level, Firstmark uses surveys to develop strategy and make operational improvements. A few examples:

1) We surveyed employees on improving member service. In addition to getting great feedback focused directly on serving members, we uncovered ways to improve our internal service. We now conduct a semi-annual survey to give department managers feedback about their internal service and give them suggestions for improving it. These changes will directly improve member service.

2) We measure the effectiveness of our internal communications. We are about to launch a new survey that is similar to a 360 assessment but is focused solely on providing managers feedback on how well they communicate with their staff and peers.

3) We use an “employee satisfaction survey” to find opportunities to improve process, policy, procedures and the like and make adjustments accordingly.

BMC: Once you have the survey results, how can an organization use the data and integrate that into communications?

Grey: We use the data to adjust our communication strategy, re-communicate if necessary and plan future communications. But it’s not all about communications. We also use surveys to plan, determine training needs, and improve operational performance.

BMC: Name three of the most common mistakes organizations make when it comes to internal communications?

Grey: 1) Not understanding your audience. There are many ways to get to know employees. Surveys are one way.

2) Not placing enough value on internal communications. Employees execute the plan. If they don’t understand the plan or aren’t engaged by it, you’re in trouble.

3) Not measuring the success of internal communications. You can communicate, but how do you know if your communications are effective? Again, surveys can help.

BMC: Last words of wisdom in regard to leveraging survey tools?

Grey: Survey tools are cheap and pretty easy to use. Start small so you get comfortable with the “art” of surveying employees, and then get strategic! When appropriate, follow up with employees and let them know what you did with their feedback.

Joe Grey is Assistant Vice President, Communications Manager at Firstmark Credit Union, San Antonio’s oldest state-chartered credit union. Joe manages employee communications and conducts numerous surveys to help Firstmark better serve approximately 92,000 members and 250 employees. To learn more about Firstmark Credit Union, visit their website at


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