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Do's and Don'ts for a Successful Customer Survey

ByMark Feldman, writer
Dec 11, 2014
> Marketing

When a customer survey is done well, it can be a great insight into the minds of your customers, and has great potential to help your business. When not done well, it may be nothing more than a waste of time and money. Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you prepare, conduct and review a great customer survey.

Do: Share your motives

If your customer has made it to your survey, don’t be afraid to be frank and honest with them. Tell them the truth; that the survey was created to gain insight, and to ultimately improve the product they use. They’ll appreciate your honesty!

Related Article: Customer Delight: The New Standard in Customer Service

Do: Incentivize

You’re going to see more responses if there’s something in it for your customers—that’s a no-brainer—but think about offering a guaranteed benefit rather than just a “chance to win.” Our most successful survey offered each respondent a month’s free access on their schedule, just for taking part.

Do: Make it quick and Do: Keep it simple

Even with incentives, your customer’s time is important to them, so don’t risk losing their attention with long-winded questions. According to Survey Monkey participants are more likely to give up if their survey takes longer than seven minutes.

To speed things up, try using multiple choice, rating scales and yes/no answers. While free text answers are good, they can be time-consuming to complete and normally require a human to read and interpret the results.

Don’t: Be inconsistent

Consistency throughout the survey will improve response rates and will stop your participants from dropping off. Try to structure all of your questions in a similar way, through language and design. Both are going to help participants to move through the questions quickly and without confusion.

Related Article: How to Provide the Best Customer Service in Your Industry

Do: Ask the right questions

Knowing what to ask can be tricky, but try to resist the temptation to copy other surveys. Think about what your customers can specifically tell you to help your business do better. Do they have an opinion on your latest pricing plans? Do they need more support from your team?

Don’t: Be afraid to take it offline

For most online businesses an online survey will suffice, but if you often engage with customers face-to-face or on the phone, you might want to think about conducting your survey in the same fashion. Of course, this may change the way you collate and analyze the responses, but you’re likely to get better results.

Don’t: Be afraid of yes and no questions

Not only are yes/no questions the easiest to answer, they’re also the easiest to collate and analyze. Customers can whizz through yes/no questions so they are less likely to quit out of frustration.

Do: Allow for extra feedback

When we asked our customers what they loved most about our employee scheduler, we gave them some multiple choice answers and a free text entry. To our surprise, almost every respondent used the free text entry to expand on the multiple-choice answers we’d suggested, giving us a ton of insight into what our customers really valued.

Feeling inspired to create your next customer survey?

Mark Feldman
Mark Feldman
See Mark Feldman's Profile
Mark Feldman is the CTO of Findmyshift, a web-based solution for shift scheduling, time clocking and time off management. Responsible for all things technical, Mark's contribution has helped scale Findmyshift from just a handful of local organizations in 2004, to the thousands of customers worldwide, more than ten years later. Passionate about web technologies, Mark's claim-to-fame is that he (with the help of his team) created the world's first online drag & drop scheduler. Fast forward a decade and Findmyshift is still the leading employee scheduler for its simplicity, flexibility, functionality and value for money.
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