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How do I create a good customer survey?

Creating a good customer survey is essential to getting the feedback you need to improve your business and retain your customers. But crafting one isn’t as simple as it sounds. Too many of the wrong types of questions will put your respondent off engaging with the survey. Not enough of the right questions and you won’t get the insights you need.

To help you create a great customer survey we’ve distilled a few key tips for you to try out. We recommend implementing them slowly and changing only one thing at a time so you can easily see what worked, and what didn’t. Let’s get started.

How to create a great customer survey

Outline what you’re trying to achieve

You might want the world, but this reduces your chance of success. So, if you had to boil this survey down to one thing you’re trying to uncover, what would that one thing be? Are you trying to discover why people keep buying from you? Are you trying to find out why someone didn’t buy from you? Are you trying to see whether your customer service team are doing a good job?

Uncover the single most important discovery you’re looking to make, and structure your survey around that.

Only ask the questions that uncover this discovery

Any questions that get in the way of you uncovering this single truth are more likely to get in the way of your survey’s success. If you need three or four questions for the survey to be a success then that’s perfectly fine, but if you can do it in half the questions then that’s even better.

Keep it short

This may seem like a double-up on the previous point but this boils down to the questions you ask as well. See the two examples below. Both ask the same question but one does it in a much better way:

  • During your experience of purchasing with us what was the single thing that stood out to you above everything else?
  • What’s one thing we do really well?

Keeping your questions specific and succinct reduces the chance of misunderstanding and the likelihood of the respondent glazing over with boredom.

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Group themes if necessary

If you’re asking a series of questions on a similar theme then it can make sense to put them all on the same page. This shows the respondent that everything in that section holds a common thread and the act of changing the page might bring on a new vein of questioning. This keeps the respondent mentally geared towards a single experience they’re being asked to reflect upon.

Be consistent

You might like to put multiple questions on a single page to make the survey look shorter, and that’s fine. But if the first page has twelve questions on it the user will likely expect all following pages to have a similar number of questions.

The same goes for using things like rating scales. If you ask a respondent to rate something on a scale of one to ten, ensure that they all use this scale and that a response of ‘one’ always means the same across all questions. Don’t switch it up and make ‘one’ mean something was excellent when in all other questions it’s meant something is the worst!

Understand closed and open questions

Sometimes it’s great to ask an open question and let the respondent do the work in replying. There are also times when a closed question, or a question with set options, is best. Users can get response fatigue if they’re constantly having to type answers, so make sure you break up the response types throughout the survey and only ask the user to do work when it’s really beneficial to you.

Leading questions can hurt

An example of a leading question is one that guides someone to a certain response. It’s bad to use these question types as you’re not getting the respondent’s real feedback and you might, inadvertently, be skewing your survey’s results. An example of a leading question is:

“Review Tui was recently voted the most trusted customer feedback brand by its staff. Do you trust Review Tui?”

A better version of that question would simply be: “Do you have feelings of trust towards Review Tui?”. You can still ask the same question, without trying to influence the response.

Consider when this survey is being filled out

Asking a customer about their purchase experience before it's over won’t yield the best insights. Likewise, you might ask someone about their experience when they first receive your product but have their feelings changed 6 months later?

Give serious consideration to whether the timing of this survey matches the questions you’re asking and the answer you’re seeking. Can you filter the recipients down to get a more accurate response? Could you shift when the survey is sent to get greater insight?

The real secret to a great customer survey is starting with one and analysing whether it’s uncovering what you’re hoping to uncover. By making small adjustments over time you can hope to steadily improve the survey’s performance and unlock some key insights for your business to use to improve.

If you’re stuck for some example survey questions then check out our blog on example customer satisfaction survey questions and if you’re looking for an easy-to-use survey platform then sign up for Review Tui updates. We’re set to launch later this year and will be inviting existing registrants to be the first public users on the platform. Simply click the button below to sign-up.

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