Companies use surveys to capture what customers really think about your brand, also known as the voice of the customer. These surveys can help you gauge customer satisfaction and identify concerns quickly before they impact your brand reputation. They can help you pinpoint where to acquire new customers, why customers purchase your products or services (or choose not to repurchase them), and understand what matters most to them. Surveys can also provide actionable insights into the customer experience, ultimately guiding how you enhance your brand and grow your business.
Surveys are highly customizable, which helps you measure the exact data you’re looking for. You can create surveys focused on net promotor score (NPS), customer satisfaction (CSAT), customer effort score (CES), product development, usability, or market research.
How to create a survey
Before you build a survey, consider these three key components: survey objectives, participants, and length.
Start with objectives
What are you trying to learn? Where are your customers in their buying journey? Your answers to questions like these help determine the best type of survey to choose. For example, do you want to know how likely customers are to buy from you again? If so, you’ll want an NPS or CSAT survey. Do you want to know about your customer support? You may want a survey that determines CES.
Choose your participants
Next, choose the customer segment you want to survey and determine the appropriate channels to reach them. For example, do you want to survey customers after they complete the buying process, after they’ve used your product or service, or following an interaction with customer support? Your answers will influence the survey design.
Consider the length
Finally, decide how long you want your survey to be. You want as many people to complete the survey as possible, which means it shouldn’t be too long, but should be long enough to be useful to you. If you need to create a lengthy survey, think about how you might incentivize customers to finish it, like rewarding them upon completion.
Building a survey questionnaire
When you’re ready to build your survey questionnaire, you’ll want to be thoughtful about your question wording, order, and structure. You might also want to see how competitors and other companies in your industry are positioning their surveys by researching survey examples. How you approach building your survey will impact your ability to obtain high-quality data.
Here are some ways to think about constructing your survey:
- Question wording. Your wording should be simple and easy to understand. Avoid long preambles or double negatives. Get to the point quickly so they can too.
- Question order. Build the entire flow with a customer’s perspective in mind. For example, you wouldn’t want to start the survey with a complicated question as that could deter them from participating.
- Question structure. Consider which questions are required or skippable, and if so, where they can jump ahead. This can help customers complete the survey faster, resulting in more responses.
The importance of questionnaire design
Your survey’s design is an important investment not only for the data it helps you collect, but because it also gives customers another experience with your brand. Follow these key principles for effective questionnaire design that gives your customers a positive brand experience.
Clearly define your survey’s purpose
Having clear, attainable, and measurable goals help shape your questions. Lofty, vague goals like “I want to understand my customers better” lead to ambiguous surveys that won’t get you the information you want. A more specific goal, like “I want to understand the different kinds of customers I have and what leads them to—or away—from my business” will serve you better.
Ask the right people
Have a target customer demographic in mind for your survey. Who are they? Where are they? How old are they? What’s the best way to connect with them? What language do they speak? Knowing exactly who you’re surveying can help ensure you create only effective, relevant questions that show you value their time, while still getting the information you want.
Pick the right sample size
Before you send out your survey, consider factors like different demographics, total population size, and the required sample size to gather meaningful feedback. You should also identify an acceptable margin of error to help you feel confident in your data’s accuracy.
Keep it short and sweet
Respect your respondents’ time by keeping surveys short—just a few essential questions. You can also simplify the process by asking multiple choice questions. A few well-designed questions will earn you a higher survey completion rate and more thoughtful responses, too.
Types of survey questions
Different types of survey questions will influence how customers provide answers and how you can use the survey data. Keep in mind, you don’t have to use only one type of question. For example, you can create a multiple choice or a rating scale survey and also provide space for narrative responses.
Here are the main types of survey questions:
- Multiple choice. While multiple choice survey questions give customers fixed answers to choose from, they can help you zero in on specific areas you want to learn about. You can also give customers the option to choose one answer only, up to a certain number, or all that apply.
- Rating scale. A rating scale may range from 0 to 5 or 0 to 10, with the highest positive response possible. You’ll want to choose a meaningful range and ensure each answer contains similar wording, whether your rating scale is from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree” or “not likely at all” to “extremely likely.”
- Demographic. Demographic survey questions are useful when you want to learn more about customers and discover meaningful ways to segment them. These questions might help you identify years of experience, location, type of business or industry, job title or whatever might be useful to know (and respectful to ask).
- Narrative. Open-ended survey questions are ideal for gathering qualitative insights rather than quantitative data. While it’s difficult to analyze narrative answers using typical scoring scenarios, open-ended questions can help you capture the authentic voice of the customer, which can be useful for sales, marketing, or customer support teams.
Designing a survey
Until now, we’ve focused mostly on the words in your survey. However, it’s also important to make it visually engaging to increase responses and reduce drop-off. Your survey design can increase the rate of completions, which in turn can help you gain more insights that will improve your business performance and return on investment (ROI).
When designing your survey, consider how you’ll use the following elements to generate higher response rates.
- Color scheme. Are you using your brand colors? Is it accessible for people with various visual abilities?
- Text fonts. Are your selected fonts on-brand? Is the font size easy to read?
- Images. Can you use any images, photographs, icons, or animations to complement the text (or even replace it)?
- Personalization. Does your survey automatically incorporate your customer’s name, role, or other engaging information?
- Branching. Can you save responders time and boost response rate by filtering out questions not relevant to them?
- Responsive design. Is your survey file optimized to ensure customers have a great experience on any device they use?
Collecting and analyzing survey data
There are several methods of collecting survey data. You can create an online survey, send an email with links to a website survey, or you may have to conduct telephone interviews or focus groups. Or, you can get creative and combine a few strategies, like embedding a survey question in an email which can boost response rates. The type of survey, your objectives, and the customer segment will likely determine the best way to gather your survey data.
Once the results are in, you’re ready to begin analyzing your data. Some of the key metrics you’ll want to look at likely include:
- How satisfied overall are customers with your company or brand?
- Are your services or products meeting customer expectations?
- How satisfied are customers with your online or telephone support?
- What is the level of customer loyalty or intent to repurchase?
How to choose the right survey solution
Choose a survey tool that makes it easy for you to collect, measure, and report your survey results.
Consider who will most benefit from seeing your survey results. Will you be sharing survey data with your C-suite, sales, or marketing communications teams—or a call center staff? Deciding who will see the survey results can help you determine the best way to show and organize it.
Another important consideration for choosing your survey solution is how easily the tool integrates with other tools you use. For example, if you wanted to understand the financial impact of dissatisfied customers, you could link your survey data to customer reports through your dashboard tool, then share that information to relevant teammates with reporting solutions your organization uses regularly. Choosing the
right survey solution will help you get more from the data you collect, making a lasting, positive impact on your organization and reputation.