How To Design Customer Survey Effectively?

In the last section, we talked a bit about customer survey design in terms of aesthetic appearance and overall functionality.

In this section, we’ll talk more about how to structure your customer survey in a way that makes it easy for your audience to engage with it.

Let’s start at the very beginning.

1. Customer Survey Introduction

As with any piece of deliverable content, your survey absolutely needs an introduction. A strong survey introduction includes the following elements:

  • Company Info: A short description of your company and its services. This serves to refresh your customer’s memory and builds a frame for the rest of the survey.
  • Survey Goals: Explain why you’re conducting the survey. While you can describe these goals from your company’s perspective, you should also explain how respondents will ultimately benefit from your conducting the survey.
  • Data-Tracking Information: Tell respondents how the information they provide will be tracked. Explain whether they’re expected to provide identifying information, or if the survey will be conducted anonymously.
  • Survey Instructions: Provide a short explanation for how to fill out the survey, as well as how to submit the form. Be clear and concise with your instructions – but also provide the option for respondents to skip the instructions if they aren’t needed.
  • Survey Length: Explain how long it typically takes respondents to complete the survey. This will give your customers a good idea of how much time they should set aside – and will cut down on instances of abandonment.
  • Privacy Statement & Consent Form: Regardless of whether the survey is conducted anonymously or not, make sure to include information regarding how the submitted information will be used (as well as what information will be used). Be sure to include a consent form, as well. This form could be as simple as a checkbox next to a statement of consent.

Though it might seem like a rather inconsequential part of the overall survey, a well-designed introduction serves many purposes:

  • It gets your customers really thinking about their experiences with your brand
  • It empowers them by explaining that their opinion is truly valued, and will help improve the services your company provides
  • It explains what the survey will be asking of them in terms of information provided, as well as time and energy being spent

Now, let’s look at how to structure your survey’s questions.

2. A Note On Survey Length

In a perfect world, we’d be able to provide you with an “ideal” length for your customer survey.

However, because so many variables exist from one response instance to another, it’s not exactly possible to provide a finite answer to this question.

That being said, the typical customer probably isn’t going to spend more than a few minutes filling out your survey. And they definitely won’t want to fill out a survey that asks a bunch of superfluous or otherwise unimportant questions.

So, the best advice to take when determining the length of your survey is:

Make it as long as it needs to be – and no more. Get right to the heart of the matter by ensuring each question (and the answers respondents provide) relate directly to your goal for conducting the survey.

One thing to note, though, is that the longer your survey is, the less time respondents will spend on individual questions. The less time they spend thinking about their answers, the less valid these answers become.

The trick, then, is to find a balance in terms of survey length that leads respondents to spend an amount of time on each question that allows them to answer each sufficiently, but not so much time that they end up rushing through the last half of your survey.

3. Survey Question Order

In the next section, we’ll dive into the actual creation and writing of survey questions.

But first, let’s talk about how the order in which these questions appear can influence the way in which your customers answer them – and what you can do to mitigate such bias.

Broad To Specific Or Vice-Versa?

Your survey will undoubtedly include some questions that deal more with your customer’s overall experience, and some that deal with specific aspects of such.

As you may have guessed, the order in which you ask these questions definitely has an effect on how your customers will respond.

There’s been ongoing debate about whether to begin customer surveys by asking broad questions first, like so:

  • How would you describe your overall experience with XYZ company?
  • How welcome XYZ’s staff make you feel?
  • How would you describe XYZ’s customer service?
  • How would you describe XYZ’s checkout process?

Or to begin with the specific questions, and end the customer survey with an overarching question, like so:

  • How welcome XYZ’s staff make you feel?
  • How would you describe XYZ’s customer service?
  • How would you describe XYZ’s checkout process?
  • How would you describe your overall experience with XYZ company?

There are two schools of thought that validate either of these methods.

On the one hand, asking more general questions first leads respondents to think about their overall experience in more holistic terms. In other words, they’ll first think about how the entire experience made them feel – without breaking down the experience into specifics.

On the other hand, asking specific questions first will lead respondents to think about their experience in more procedural terms, all of which eventually combine to form the entire experience.

However, certain issues can arise no matter which way you decide to go.

Customers responding to a broad-to-specific survey may frame their answers to specific questions in terms of how they answered the broad ones – or they might not be entirely honest with their more specific answers.

For example, if they report that their overall experience was “very pleasant,” they might subconsciously convince themselves that all of the more specific aspects of the service were “excellent,” even if some of these areas were lacking.

Customers responding to a specific-to-broad survey can also be influenced by their previous responses, as well, in that their answers to the specific questions might cause them to go “against their gut” when answering the general question.

For instance, let’s say a customer initially felt they had a negative overall experience. If they responded rather positively to the specific questions that were asked, this might cause them to second guess their initial response. Of course, there may be other factors that the survey didn’t address that led to this customer’s negative experience – but, on paper, it will appear as though their experience was overall pretty positive.

As it was with survey length, there’s no hard-and-fast solution to this conundrum. Rather, you just need to know that these biases exist – and keep them in mind when digging into your survey’s results later on. In turn, you’ll be better able to make more sense out of responses that, at first glance, appear to contradict each other, or that are otherwise rather anomalous.

Answer Order

The order in which you list your answers can also influence your customers’ responses

This comes into play most often when asking multiple-answer questions (which we’ll talk about in a bit). For example, say you ask the question, “What do you enjoy most about our service?” and provide the following choices:

  • Customer Service
  • Atmosphere
  • Pricing
  • Products
  • Other

While not an absolute certainty, respondents may simply choose the first answer they see that jumps out at them – even if another choice would be more accurate. The larger the number of respondents who fall into this bias, the less reliable your overall results will be.

To mitigate this issue, you can randomize the order in which the answers are listed for this type of question. While this doesn’t eliminate the bias in individual respondents, per se, it will at least make it so the bias doesn’t result in a focus on one single answer across the board.

Two things to note:

  • Randomization only works with the above type of question. Don’t implement it within questions dealing with scaled responses
  • Don’t include answers such as “other” or “not applicable” in the randomization. These answers should always be at the end of the list

4. Survey Logic

Earlier on, we mentioned the term “survey logic,” and that, in order to ensure that your customers’ responses are as accurate as possible, you need to make sure the tool you use to conduct your surveys allows you to implement this strategy.

Survey logic is implemented in one of two ways:

  • Branches
  • Filtering

Branching (also known as “conditional branching” or “branch logic”) allows survey creators to send respondents to specific survey questions or section based on their answers to a former question.

Say, for example, a respondent reports that a company’s customer service was most influential in determining the quality of their overall experience. The survey creator would be able to create more specific questions regarding aspects of their customer service, and then use branching logic to bring this respondent to these more specific questions. Respondents who answered differently would, of course, be brought to a different set of questions.

Filtering is similar to branching in that it allows subsequent questions to be asked based on a respondent’s answers. However, filtering also dynamically skips questions that don’t apply to certain respondents based upon their previous answers.

For example, a customer survey might ask, “Did you ask for assistance from customer service during your shopping experience?” If the respondent answers “yes,” they’ll be brought to a set of questions about the customer service department’s ability to help them. If they answer “no,” they’ll simply be brought to the next survey question.

Survey logic is beneficial for a number of reasons:

  • It allows you to probe deeper into a specific issue “on the fly”
  • It shortens surveys for respondents by eliminating unnecessary questions
  • It creates a more personalized for each of your respondents

All of these factors increase the chances that your customers will complete and return your survey – and increase the validity of their responses, as well.

5. Wrapping Up Your Customer Survey

Once your respondents have completed the “meat” of your survey, you want to metaphorically put a bow on the experience for them.

First things first, use the final page of the survey to thank them for taking the time to help your company improve its services. This small show of gratitude humanizes the experience and reminds your audience that your company truly does value their input.

On this same page, provide respondents with added value or a surprise offer. You might choose to give them a coupon for free or discounted service, or you might provide them with complimentary downloadable content, such as an ebook or ultimate guide.

Lastly, if applicable, ask for their contact and demographic information. The reason to do this last is that their survey responses will have already been submitted whether or not they choose to provide this information. On the other hand, if you were to ask for this information first, anyone who didn’t want to do so wouldn’t fill out the survey at all.

For those that do submit their email address or other contact information, make sure you send them an additional “thank you” message as a follow-up.

When it comes to figuring out what your customers want to get out of your products or services, one of the most efficient ways of doing so is to simply ask them.

Okay, okay. So it’s not quite that easy.

While you might at first assume that most customers would jump at the chance to have their voices heard, in truth, the vast majority of consumers don’t respond to customer surveys of any kind. Surprisingly, a response rate of 10-15% is actually pretty decent; a response rate of just 2% is reportedly the norm across most industries.

There are a number of reasons the response rate of customer surveys is so low, such as: This multimedia learning experience features six chapters, over 30,000 words, and a mixture of videos, infographics, guides, podcast episodes, and more—all designed to deliver you a comprehensive and unparalleled landing page education—and all for free.

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