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A woman completing a customer survey on a tablet computer

Using survey tools to improve customer feedback

Your customers need to feel heard. They want to know your business listens to them, and that if they give you feedback, you’ll act on it.

But when you give your customers a way to offer their thoughts and concerns, they’re not the only ones who benefit. Allowing them to have a voice—and truly listening to that voice—can help you take swift action to gauge customer satisfaction and improve customer experience and retention. In other words, when something isn’t working, you’ll have the information you need to fix it.

One of the best ways to gather honest customer feedback is by creating and sending out online customer surveys. Surveys are a cost-effective and customisable way to collect and streamline accurate data, so you can act on those insights in real time.

When you truly understand how your customers feel about your business, you can adjust your marketing and operations to better accommodate customer needs—so they’ll be more satisfied with their experience and more likely to have a positive impression of your business, products, and services.

Features that maximise online surveys

When you’re ready to create a survey and distribute it to customers, you’ll need to find the right survey tools for your business. The right tools can help you create customisable online survey platforms that allow you to input questions and response options, creating an experience tailored for a chosen audience.

What should you look for in a survey tool or survey software? Here are some features and functionalities you might want:

  • Customisation: Updating the look and feel of your survey—even aligning the colours and fonts with your branding—can result in more respondents completing your survey. Some survey tools even allow you to personalise the survey for each customer.

  • Multichannel distribution: If you’re planning to use different channels to send out your survey—via email, your website, or social media—consider a survey tool that allows multichannel distribution and feedback. Getting an accurate understanding of the customer experience within and across multiple channels allows you to better understand trends and buying behaviour.

  • Accessibility: Make sure your survey tools accommodate people with varying hearing, sight, mobility, and cognitive abilities. For example, when you have respondents who might use assistive devices like screen readers, it’s important to use software that meets web accessibility standards.

  • Varied response types: To get the most granular information from your survey, you might want a survey tool that lets you use different response types, such as multiple choice answers, grid/matrix answers, and text boxes.

  • Multi-language capabilities: Some tools allow you to add multiple languages to your surveys. This gives you the ability to reach your respondents in the language they’re most comfortable using, while still collecting all your data in one place.

  • Application integrations: A survey application that plays well with business applications you already use can help automatically collect data from your surveys and send it to your preferred analysis tools, enable you to share real-time statistics within your organisation, and automate survey invitation delivery.

  • Metrics: It’s not enough just to collect data—without metrics, the information you gather from your surveys can be meaningless. A good survey tool allows you to easily figure out what your scores—from Net Promoter Scores to satisfaction ratings—mean.

  • Reporting: Look closely at the reporting features offered by your survey platform. Being able to see all respondents’ answers in one place makes it easier to analyse your survey results.

  • Testing: As we’ll discuss in a bit, it’s essential to test your surveys before sending them out, to make sure they’re free of errors and allow for a positive user experience.

How to choose the best survey tools for your organisation

Now that you know some of the features to look for in a survey tool, it’s important to evaluate your options before making an investment. Not every tool will be the best fit for your organisation or audience.

How can you select the right survey tools for your business? Ask yourself these questions first:

  • Do I want to conduct a poll or a survey?

  • Does the survey tool support the question format(s) I’d like to use?

  • Will the survey give my customers a positive experience?

  • What kind of customer support does the survey tool offer?

  • Does the survey have the reporting features I need?

  • What is the maximum number of respondents accommodated by the survey platform?

Then, look closely at the survey platforms you’re considering to make sure they have the features and functionalities you need. If a free trial is offered, try out the software first to get a better idea of how it works and whether it’s a good fit for your business and your customers.

Using survey tools to test before launching

You’ve finalised your customer survey goals and wrote your questions. Now you’re ready to send it, right? Wait! Don’t send it out blind. First, preview and test your survey to make sure it’s user-friendly and free of errors.

Here are some questions to ask when you’re testing your survey:

  • Did I include an intro?

    If so, make sure it’s short and sweet so potential respondents don’t get overwhelmed by too much text. If you don’t already have an intro, take a few minutes to write one. This doesn’t need to be too wordy—a simple sentence is all you need. Introduce your survey topic and purpose, and don’t forget to say thanks.

  • Is my survey mobile-friendly?

    Always preview your survey on a mobile device. The device respondents use can affect the appearance of the survey and the completion time. If you think many of your respondents will use a smartphone to take the survey, consider reformatting your questions to make sure they look right on both iOS and Android phones.

  • Is the survey copy accessible and relatable?

    Try to look at your survey from the perspective of your respondents. If your questions use industry jargon respondents may not know, adjust the copy to make it more accessible. Also, keep an eye out for questions that respondents might not understand or be qualified to answer.

  • Are there typos?

    Proofreading is your friend. Carefully reading the questions aloud to yourself or a friend is a great way to spot spelling or grammatical errors.

  • Are my answer options thorough enough?

    Check your answer choices to make sure there’s always an option that will apply to every respondent. If not, you might want to add a “Not applicable” option. You don’t want to force respondents to pick a random answer when none apply; that will negatively affect the quality of your data.

  • Does randomisation make sense for my survey?

    Worried about order bias? Randomising the order of your questions or answer choices might be a good option for your survey. Just make sure to anchor “Not applicable” or “None of the above” answer choices, if you’re using those, so they always appear at the bottom.

  • How long does the survey take to complete?

    Take the survey and time yourself. If it feels excessively long to you, it will feel even longer to your respondents. Pare down the questions or add skip logic to direct respondents through different survey paths, sending them to a future point in the survey based on their answers.

  • Are there too many questions on each page?

    Figuring out the right number of questions to display on each page can be a fine line. If you have too many questions per page, respondents might experience survey fatigue or become frustrated by how the survey appears on mobile devices. But unless you’re using skip logic, one question per page isn’t ideal, either. Too many pages can increase load time and frustrate users.

  • Did I test all potential skip logic paths?

    This is an area where you really don’t want to make mistakes. Programming errors can push respondents to the wrong page, and logic errors can send respondents into a never-ending, inescapable survey loop. But skip logic done right can be beneficial both to you and to your respondents. Don’t gather data you don’t really need—and don’t bog respondents down with questions they don’t need to answer.

  • If I’m sending the survey by email, am I making the right impression?

    Email is a great way to distribute your survey, but be sure you’re using the right email content and making a good first impression. Keep your email concise; give a quick overview of the survey topic and tell recipients when you need it completed. Send a few test emails to make sure you don’t end up in someone’s spam folder.

Get started with efficient survey tools

Customer surveys are a great way to gather honest, accurate feedback from your customers—but using the right survey applications can make all the difference in your survey’s success. See how easy it is to get started with Dynamics 365 Customer Voice.