Tips for writing effective customer survey questions
Getting feedback via customer surveys can uncover critical information to help you make important business and marketing decisions. But writing bad customer survey questions can spoil the results. Follow these tips to make the best of your questionnaire.
- Identify the objective or objectives of the survey. What is it that you specifically want to find out? Not having a clear objective can make the survey too long, or the questions unfocused. It's not likely that you find out everything you need to know on one survey, so keep the objective on a single target of information you want to know.
- Keep your expectations in line. Most successful surveys serve only as a way of confirming or denying assumptions that you've already made in your objectives. Surveys don't often reveal widespread, brand new, secret, never-thought-of feedback from customers. By keeping expectations in check, you can spot informative trends in the answers, and not be looking for "magic wand" responses that you hope will revolutionize your business.
- Keep the questions easy to answer. Don't make the customer struggle and think hard to give you an answer. Avoid the use of technical jargon, slang and abbreviations. The easier you make it, the more responses you'll get.
- Use a variety of question types. If the survey is more than five to six questions, use a variety of different question types such as:
- two-choice (ie., "yes/no")
- ranking (ie., "rate our service on a scale of 1-5"
- Alternate between easier and more difficult questions. To keep the customer moving at a quick pace through the survey (so that they don't get frustrated and abandon it), mix up the easier questions with more difficult ones. Generally it's best to start with a couple of easy two-choice or mutiple-choice questions; then add a more difficult or open ended one; then provide some easier questions. This will help your respondent feel like you're not using too much of their time.
- Make sure the questions aren't leading or biased. For the results of a survey to be successful, you need to ask questions in such a way to get the customer's true view, not the answer you would like to hear. Here are a couple of examples of a leading and less-leading form of question:
Leading: Most customers feel our pricing is about right. What do you think?
Less leading: Do you feel our prices are (circle one): high - about right - low
Leading: Do you like the convenience of our online customer support system?
Less leading: Has our online customer support system met your needs?