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Customer Surveys 101: Tips For Result–Focused Questions

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Optimize your customer surveys to create real value.

The best way to improve your product or service is to base the ongoing action plan on what your customers really want and need.

One of the best ways to gather a lot of constructive feedback and information relatively fast is through customer surveys.

However, putting together a great survey isn’t an easy task.

Figuring out the right questions to ask is just one small part of creating an actually useful survey—much more thought should go into the right way of asking these questions.

Today, we’re going to talk about 5 tactics for making sure that your customer surveys not only create actual value for your company, but are also painless—not to say fun—to fill out for your customers.

Keep It Short

Superfluous text is the death of any content, but especially dangerous when it comes to surveys.

Remember—spending time out of their day on filling out your survey is not something your customers have to do.

It’s something they’ve decided to do for you as a favor on their behalf. Don’t make them regret it by wasting time.

There’s two main sides to keeping your surveys short and sweet:

  1. Finding the most clear and concise way to ask specific questions
  2. Keeping the survey itself as short as you possibly can

First of all—surveys are not the place to practice your novel writing skills. Nobody has the time nor patience to decipher their way through walls of text.

Ask simple questions that are phrased and structured clearly, using the smallest amount of words you can, and most importantly—ask one question at a time.

Piling multiple thinking and answer points into one question breaks the respondent’s concentration and most likely ends with a half-assed answer that flutters around several aspects without getting into actual detail about any of them.

For example, instead of this chain of events in one question…:

Are you satisfied with our service? If not, why? What could we do better? What do you like about it?

…break it down into individual questions to make it easier to concentrate on one thing at a time.

And secondly, the length of the survey itself—people are busy, and unless they’re getting paid for it, nobody wants to sit through a survey that takes them more than 10 minutes to finish.

Which brings us to the next point…

Chop Out The Unnecessary

A ton of filler questions will get you nothing but a high abandonment rate on your surveys.

You need to be an absolute savage when it comes to choosing which questions to keep in order to keep the respondent's’ attention.

With every single question you want to add, think about these points:

Do not fall into the “might as well add this” pit of unnecessary questions that have nothing to do with the actual purpose of your survey.

For example, a lot of customer surveys start with a ton of background questions like this:

Do you need to know your customers’ names? Where they found your product or service? What they do in their company? What their cat’s name is? No? Then don’t add them.

This goes for any other type of question you might feel tempted to add in “just because”. Think long and hard about which information you actually need and don’t clutter your survey with fillers.

Don’t Assume Anything

Unless you’re dealing with a very, very heavily targeted survey that only includes people who you’re 100% sure are very knowledgeable about everything you’re about to ask, it’s always safer to not make any assumptions.

The two main assumptions to avoid are:

  1. Assuming your customer is familiar with the industry
  2. Assuming your customer is psychic and knows exactly what you want when it comes to your questions

First of all, don’t use any advanced terminologies or industry-related jargon even if it makes sense to you. This might be the first time ever your customer has seen any of this information or heard any of the terms. Make it simple.

Secondly, don’t assume that your customers will magically behave how you want them to. You know what you ultimately want out of these responses. They don’t.

If you want them to clarify something, add actual examples, explain their answers, whatnot, you need to ask them to do it.

Instead of something like this…:

Are you generally satisfied with the quality of our service?

…go more into detail about what you’re looking for in the answer:

Are you generally satisfied with the quality of our service? If not, please explain what your biggest pain points are.

A lot of customers are actually perfectly happy to go into detail or explain their points further—sometimes they just need a little nudge to know that you actually want them to.

Make Use Of Different Question Types

It might be tempting to just make every single question a yes/no or a simple multiple choice one because it’s what we’re all most familiar with, but there are so many options to choose from. For example, these are all the choices in Typeform:

There’s a best option for every specific question, and you should think through which of them makes most sense while being the most convenient.

Think about…:

Besides the simpler question types, a lot of online survey building tools have options for creating logic jumps, conditional questions depending on previous answers, etc.

In the end, it is the varying types of questions that determine what kind of information is collected and what you can do with it going forward.

So, take your sweet time considering which questions to use, when to use them, and how you’ll be processing the collected information later.

Ask For Constructive Criticism

Regardless of what your survey is intended to achieve, the one “general” question always worth throwing in (usually at the end of the survey) is an open-ended question about how you can improve.

There are several ways to phrase this based on your product/service/area:

However you choose to word the self-improvement bit of your survey, it makes for a great ending question.

Your customer will be leaving knowing that you genuinely care about improving based on their feedback, and you can gather any possible nuggets of wisdom that your customers might have on their mind at any given time—win-win.

Ask The Right Customer Survey Questions The Right Way

The only way to really improve your business is to find out who your customers are and what they really want and need, and customer surveys are a great way to access that information.

Creating a truly valuable customer survey isn’t an easy task, but it’s worth it.

If you put in the effort to make your questions result-focused, clear and concise, you’ll be gathering tons of information that can help you drive your plans in the right direction.

How often do you use customer surveys? What are your tips for making them awesome? Let us know in the comments!

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About the Author

Elen Veenpere is part of the marketing team at Groove. She’s passionate about writing and building marketing strategies based on in-depth analytics and lots of coffee.

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