Seven Tips for Creating Valuable Customer Surveys

By Sophia Beirne & Michael Janowski

July 12, 2016 - Even if it's not the easiest task, creating an effective customer survey is definitely worth the effort. There aren’t too many feedback forms out there that permit us to gather such a considerable volume of data about a set of specific product-related questions.

If you're planning to create a customer survey, you need to first develop a strategy. Without it, this form of feedback gathering will quickly become troublesome. Here are seven (7) tips to help you create customer surveys that will serve you as reliable sources of valuable information.

1. Define key goals of your survey

What do you want your survey to accomplish? This is the first question you should ask yourself before setting out to develop it. Without a well-defined objective, you won't be able to measure the effectiveness of the survey or its impact on the issue you're trying to resolve.

Like in any quantitative research, you should clearly conceptualize the variable(s) you want to explore (that is, define exactly what it is you are measuring). Every single question included in the survey should be directed at unveiling a critical aspect of the issue you're exploring. Focus on the essentials and you'll get everything you need.

2. Keep it brief

Find the shortest way to ask your questions without compromising on quality or intent. Try to eliminate unnecessary words from your questions and make them as simple as possible. This principle should apply to the entire survey. Long surveys have low completion rates. Don't count on customers spending 20 minutes answering questions in a survey. Ask between 5-10 questions. If the survey is too long, customers tend to abandon it in the middle.

3. When creating questions, aim for clarity

Be specific and stick to the topic of your survey. Don't ask questions such as 'Do you regularly order office supplies online?'. Offer focused questions like 'Do you order printer cartridges from brand X at least once a month?'. This will allow you to operationalize (i.e. - identity how you will measure) your results much more effectively. The more detailed and specific your questions, the better quality of data you'll get in return.

4. Ask about one thing at a time

It's a bad idea to combine several elements into one question. Customers will find such questions confusing and hard to answer. Consequently, they'll be more likely to abandon the survey. Ask straightforward questions and stick to types customers know – multiple choice, drop-down menus, sliding scales or comment boxes. Don’t use all these types in one survey – one or two are just right.

5. Use Yes/No type of questions

When asking a question that can generate a simple answer, try to frame it to produce a Yes/No type of question. Closed-ended questions are great as starter questions because they're easy to evaluate and complete. Yes/No questions work great for qualifying the respondent with less ego bias. Consider a question like: 'Are you considered an expert in _____?' in comparison to 'What level of expertise do you have in _____?”'. These will also allow for less variance and greater reliability in response when it comes time to analyze your results.

6. Don't use loaded or leading questions

Your questions should be objective and unbiased. Avoid leading respondents toward a certain answer that might render your survey unreliable. Avoid asking questions that presuppose facts or are based on assumptions. Furthermore, never use emotionally charged language that describes sentiments or preferences.

7. Write an invitation that inspires customers to take the survey

Be friendly and personable to your customers. Provide them with key details like the purpose of the survey and how long it will take them to complete. Show recipients of your message why the survey is important and how their contribution will create value. Offer an incentive for completing the survey (i.e. - a coupon, a participation in a prize draw, etc.).

Apply these 7 tips and you're bound to create surveys which engage customers with your brand and give you plenty of insightful data essential to optimizing every aspect of your operation.  

About the Guest Author

Sophia Beirne is an experienced writer and tutor working at Career FAQs. She’s keen on new motivational tools and productivity hacks. She’s also interested in the new media.