Customer Success

11 guidelines for successful customer surveys

If you’re not obsessed with customer satisfaction, you should be. How do you know if you’re giving your customers amazing experiences if you don’t measure their satisfaction? How can you know how well your products and services are doing? Quantifying customer satisfaction is in your best interests: satisfied customers are more likely to make a repeat visit, as well as to recommend your business to their friends and coworkers. What’s more, research shows that a loyal customer is worth up to 10 times as much as they spent on their first order.

Read also: How to get customers. And keep them.

A great way to calculate customer satisfaction is through customer surveys. However, you can’t just send out any generic survey and call it a day. If not created and distributed properly,  customer surveys won’t provide the value you need. Poorly planned surveys lead to several problems, including:

  • Customers are impatient and don’t complete the survey
  • Customers get confused and provide inaccurate responses
  • Customers find the survey irrelevant because it was sent too late

All of these issues lead to inaccurate scores and a skewed perception of customer satisfaction levels.

Here are some guidelines to help create engaging and effective customer surveys:

Define your goals

Every question you include should have a well-defined purpose and a strong reason for being there. You need to cut the fluff and frame each question with precision. Depending on the survey’s purpose, if you don’t need additional personal information from customers, don’t ask for it in the survey. You wouldn’t want customers to get so impatient with unnecessary questions that they abandon the survey entirely. 

Make it concise

This ties into the point above — in addition to staying focused, try to keep each question short and to-the-point. Long-winded questions can easily confuse customers, leading to inaccurate responses or no responses at all. It’s not just about reducing the character count. You need to shave off any excess phrases from your questions. Reducing the overall survey length should also be high on your agenda.

Ask one question at a time

Ensure that your survey doesn’t sound like an interrogation. If you want quality responses, you need to give people time to think through each question or small set of similar questions. When you bombard people with questions, they may try to sneak out of the survey. As a result, you get half-hearted responses. This defeats your ultimate purpose of conducting a survey.

Be specific and avoid assumptions

When you create questions that assume a customer has a specific point of view about something, you’re likely going to run into problems (unless you are surveying a very targeted group of people). Stay away from industry acronyms, jargons, or references.

Use open-ended questions

The cliché in the field of framing survey questions is the multiple-choice question. But if you are looking for impactful and insightful feedback, it may be best to supplement that with open-ended questions. Open-ended questions allow customers to express their own thoughts. It’s best to place brief questions first in the survey to create a sense of progress. Then later present them with the opportunity to elaborate on their thoughts. One strategy is to get people to commit to a question with a simple introduction. Follow up with an open-ended question such as, “Why do you feel this way?” or “Can you give an example?”

Having different types of rating scales within a single survey can be confusing for the survey-taker. For example, a survey that starts off assigning “1” with “Strongly Agree” and “5” with “Strongly Disagree” and then later swaps the meaning of those numbers is bound to put-off customers. Some survey takers won’t follow the change and will give inaccurate answers completely by accident.

Avoid leading and loaded questions

Questions that lead respondents towards a certain answer are not useful for your surveys. Remember to cut out language that caters to ego or contorts a respondent’s understanding of what’s being asked. To avoid loaded questions, stay away from any presupposed facts or assumptions.

Make use of Yes/No questions

When you are asking a question that has a simple outcome, try to frame the question as a Yes/No option. These questions can also be used to qualify the respondent with less of an ego bias, such as asking a question like, “Are you considered an expert in your field?” vs. “What level of expertise do you have?”

Offer enough response options

Make sure to include response ranges that cover all scenarios for the respondents, but make sure the ranges don’t overlap. Creating a situation in which a respondent isn’t sure what to select or feels like two answers are equally accurate can create confusion and result in erroneous responses.

Include advanced survey logic

To keep every question relevant, use a survey tool that allows you to add Skip and Display logic. This just means customers who answer a question one way will “skip” certain other questions and other questions will “display” for them based on their response. Adding logic not only gives each survey a more personalized flow, it also helps you get more information from each customer. For example, if you ask a hotel guest how their stay was and they select”Excellent”, they would be routed to a question asking “Great! What did you enjoy most? Select all that apply.” with multiple amenities to choose from.

Time your survey strategically

When to send a survey is equally as important as creating one. You can start with an educated guess of the right time to send a survey and then try varying that a little with future surveys and see which have the highest completion rate.  

Offer incentives

It sometimes makes sense to entice customers to take your survey — especially if it’s a long one. A variety of data shows that incentives can increase survey response rates by 5 to 20 percent. These incentives could be a discount, a giveaway or an account credit.

A great product and excellent customer service begin with getting to know who your customers are and what they need. To get that done, you have to gather customer information, and surveys are just what the doctor ordered for that. Check out the top 7 questions that must be asked in a customer survey.

About the author

Kushraj Bhatia

Kushraj is a Product Marketing Manager at BirdEye and a Reputation Management and Customer Experience expert.

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