Customer surveys are a tried and true method of peeking inside the minds of both existing and potential clients so that companies in turn can better serve customers. While these question and answer forms may have their roots in printed-out sheets and face-to-face interactions, the customer survey has remained viable and even more accessible in the age of digital business.

Thanks to online platforms, customer surveys can be distributed to a larger audience than ever. As such, businesses have been given the opportunity to receive large amounts of detailed feedback that can help to better shape their business and digital marketing strategies. By receiving honest, insightful answers from customers through digital surveys, companies can receive crucial takeaways, including a better understanding of client behavior, pain points and customer journeys.

However, great opportunities require careful planning. The best questionnaires lead to eye-opening survey data and improved services that may not have been possible without the feedback of target audiences.

If you are searching for ways to improve your surveys so that you are not only making the most of your opportunity but also better serving your client base, consider the following five customer survey guidelines. You may find that even the smallest improvement can cause more useful answers and improved long-term results.

5 Guidelines to Improve Your Customer Surveys

Surveys take time, effort and investment to get them to audiences. But when their questions are flawed and their deployment misses the mark, the results could be disheartening and even lead to incorrect takeaways that affect your future strategies. The following five guidelines can be implemented in the creation and release of future questionnaires to improve survey experience, receive honest feedback and prevent the pitfalls frequently experienced in survey creation, including letting your own bias influence results and failing to target the right audience for your specific needs.

1. Define and Address Your Audience – Defining your audience is the first step that every successful survey needs to take to make the most of the opportunity at hand. While questions posed by your team may have sparked the need for a survey, determining who exactly is answering those questions will be the only way to receive usable survey data. According to Vertical Response, segmenting the audience may be right for your specific survey goals. Even if you have a large database of contacts, cutting them down to a group based on product purchases, geographic location, industry or another definable characteristic may be the most accurate way to get the specific feedback you want.

2. Remove Leading Questions for More Honest Answers - It’s easy to let your bias and hopes result in phrasing questions that lead survey takers toward specific answers. As detailed by Help Scout, the best surveys lead to honest feedback and perspectives that you may have been unaware of prior to the survey. After you have completed your questions, attempt to look at them from a more objective point of view. Do your questions contain words that ascribe some sort of value to the subject? For example, “How have you enjoyed our new and improved online features?” pushes toward only positive responses. Instead ask, “What is your opinion of our recent update to online features?” This remains far more neutral in tone. Stay away from assumptions and pre-supposed facts and keep your questions as straightforward as possible, while still encouraging smart, open-ended answers.

3. Align Questions with Your Survey Goals – Every survey should be created with the intent to reach several goals. Typically, these goals concern creating survey data used to improve services, evolve digital marketing efforts and understand opinions on your brand. Useful and successful surveys constantly drive toward this goal and every question should be in service of fulfilling this. As discussed by Help Scout, goals should be definable in two to three sentences to keep your questions on point and consistently directed toward what you are interested in discovering. An added benefit is that your survey can be made much shorter while still remaining effective. Research reported on by Client Heartbeat has shown that shorter surveys, typically under 10 questions, have a much lower abandonment rate.

4. Move from Simpler to More Complex Questions - A survey should be structured in a way that guides readers deeper and toward more complex questions. This is accomplished by arranging questions in a way that encourages more robust, informative answers after first grabbing them with simpler questions. Think of your question layout as warming up the survey taker, which accustoms them to your questionnaire and encourages them to become more invested in completing all the questions. Putting complex questions too early within the survey could cause them to drop out or rush through their answers, leading to poor, unusable results. According to research from Bain Insights, the lower the response rate, the more random the survey data. So making your survey more likely to be completed is crucial in trusting your results.

5. Use Tools That Enable Greater Customization and Analysis – There are many potential tools that can be used when creating an online survey. But which one is right for you? Major advances in form creation in recent years include collecting data on dropout rates for each question so that these problematic sections can be eliminated. Also, advanced survey forms can be customized to dynamically change questions based on how a person identifies him/herself earlier in the survey, such as being a first-time loan applicant versus a renewal. While making sure that your questionnaire is easy to read and complete is essential, it should also be customizable for your unique needs. A successful customer survey will be flexible enough to accommodate both simple, multiple choice questions and more open-ended, text-based answers to encourage useful, detailed information from audiences. In doing so, businesses can completely incorporate the previous four guidelines into their new survey.

Make the Most of Your Customer Surveys

Customer surveys are just one way in which businesses can better understand and serve their client base. Learn more about how to strategically improve your customer experiences and meet the needs of target audiences to stay ahead of today’s trends.

Read Four Strategies to Transform Your Customer Experience  
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