Customer Surveys : 10 Top Tips

Customer satisfaction surveys (and employee surveys) are a great way to understand the customer experience. It’s not the whole ‘experience’ picture, but love them or hate them, they are a good place to start!

Some of the common benefits survey results can be used for:

  • Testimonials: free text & statistics gathered eg: “90% of customers say xxxx”.
  • Social media content
  • Marketing content – incl identifying your USP, why do customers prefer you over competitors?
  • Identifying areas of improvement within your business
  • Cost saving – are you providing a service that customers don’t care for? Remove it!

So you want to know what your customers think about your product or service? Excellent! A great idea, we know that word of mouth recommendations are the most successful lead to deal generators there are, so it pays to know what they are thinking, whether good or bad, and thus saying to others about your company!

Capturing this valuable information relies on deploying a survey to your customer at the optimum time, through the optimum channel (studies currently show more favourable response rates via mobile devices/text), and asking the right questions – so customers aren’t ‘put off’ responding due to a lengthy and dull survey, that takes them more effort than they are prepared to give, to complete!

So here are a few tips when writing a survey:

  1. Be specific:  don’t try and tackle the world and every question in one survey, focus specifically on one or two areas, this will keep the survey shorter and easier for the respondent to complete. Segment and send different surveys to different customer groups if necessary.
  2. Use ‘closed’ questions:  respondents are more likely to answer if they have a series of tick boxes or drop down menus rather than having to write reams of text – if text answers are what you need you’ll have to provide an incentive eg: a monthly competition or discount to entice a good volume of responses.
  3. Give ‘free text’ options: It’s frustrating if a closed question doesn’t have the option you want to select, so where appropriate also give a free text / other option too. It’s also beneficial to have an optional ‘any other comments’ style box at the end of your survey.
  4. Plan what you will do with the answers: there’s no point in asking questions if you’re not going to utilise the answers – either to create statistics, or to identify what customers value most eg: for marketing material / social media content
  5. Don’t use loaded questions: eg: “What electronic device do you use daily?” This assumes they use a device daily. Instead “Do you use electronic devices?” combined with “what do you use?” and “how frequently do you use it?” (daily, weekly, monthly, less often etc)
  6. Separate double-barrelled questions: “Did you find our service professional and efficient?”, instead “how professional did you find our service?” “How efficient did you find our service?”
  7. Think of the ‘flow’: Start with general easy answers and move into those that require a little more thought, and group questions together eg: feeling about previous experience followed by questions about future options or improvments.
  8. Ensure multiple choice answers don’t overlap: eg “What is your age?” 18-40, 40-60, 60+ – if you’re 40 or 60 which box do you tick?
  9. Speak in the language of your customer: avoid using your industry specific jargon that can cause confusion and thus skew results or respondents to exit out. If in doubt write as though your question is aimed at a 10 year old ie: not patronising, but clear and unambiguous.
  10. Keep it short: up to 10 questions – less ideally, if you find you’re struggling to do this, see point 1!

The use of effective surveys relies on a good strategy and clear objectives, not just ‘throwing’ something out there and seeing what happens. Structure, flow and thinking about who will be completing it are key.

Remember to share your results with your customers, either via your website, newsletter, email or social media along with any actions you are taking based on their feedback. The more frequently you do this the higher the results will be in your future surveys – customers appreciate when can see their voice is heard and acted upon.

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