Home » Surveys » How to Create Effective Survey Questions
Last edited: June 08, 2022
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It should probably go without saying, but knowing your customers and their needs and measuring their customer experience is absolutely critical to business success. Every good business wants to know what their customers think and they crave the valuable knowledge a well put together survey can provide them.
When done correctly, customer surveys can highlight what you’re doing well and help you fix those areas where you have issues. They can also help you identify trends, get new product ideas and even let you know how you compare against your competitors.
Unfortunately, a lot of companies just aren’t getting the value out of surveys that they should be. Many organisations might only use them reactively, for example when they see a dip in sales and want to find out why, or they use them with little strategy behind them, simply sending out as many surveys as possible and hoping for the best.
The truth is though, you have to be asking the right questions at the right time for surveys to be effective. Customers are more likely to respond and give quality answers when they have a closer personal relationship with you and the questions are relevant to their experience.
For example, large online retailers tend to have a very low response rate hovering around 5% because they can be seen as quite distant to the customers, but those companies that have had direct contact (both online and face to face) with customers find response rates pushing up 30%-50%.
To get you started on compiling your own survey questions, we’ve pulled together a list of useful tips alongside some examples of the kind of questions you can ask.
A good survey question has a purpose; to find out a specific piece of information. While short surveys like the net promoter score can be a good way to gauge general customer satisfaction, they don’t always give you the detailed customer insights you might need.
Some good goals for survey questions can include:
Remember, if the data isn’t serving a specific purpose it’s not going to be as useful. Your first step in any survey should always be to ask yourself what your objective is and work from there.
People are bombarded by information these days. We’re constantly online now, connected to our smartphones and we have a host of sources vying for our attention. With the latest news, social media posts, work emails and staying up to date with friends, it can be very easy for a customer to simply ignore a customer survey when it lands in their inbox.
To avoid this you can:
Surveys don’t have to be a one way street where you take and the customer gives. When done correctly, a good survey can make the customer feel like they’ve contributed in some way, be this in product development or helping to give them better service next time.
While this might not always be possible (for example when trying to build new markets where customers don’t have any connection to you yet) always try and think about the value you can offer them when setting your survey objective.
Some ways to add value to the customer include:
Now that you’re a little clearer on how to put together a good survey question and have a specific goal, we’ll run through some of the types of questions, when to use them and some examples. When using the examples below, try to stick to the same question type per survey, if you use multiple different types of questions it can be a little confusing for the customer.
One of the simplest types of questions. Usually asking the customer to rank a question on a scale of 0-10, for example, with 10 being “Very satisfied” and 0 being “Not at all satisfied”. It is a type of close ended question that limits a customers choices.
Useful when you need quick, easy to read general statistics. For example, in assessing customer satisfaction on a new product launch or when gauging your net promoter score. They are also great to use when you don’t have a lot of time and resources to analyze surveys and need fast responses.
These are a very popular choice of question type and offer the customer a number of different options to choose from, usually no more than five or six choices per question with a final option for “other” if none of the options are applicable to them.
Sometimes multiple-choice questions can be “dichotomous” offering only two options, or a simple yes/no response, while others are presented as a “Linkert scale” that assesses a customer’s level of agreement with a statement. All multiple choice questions are also a type of close-ended question where you have control over the responses.
Similar to rating scale questions, these are great for providing easy to analyze statistics but in a little more depth. You can drill a little deeper into customer thoughts whilst at the same time controlling the data you’d like to collect, making it easier to analyze.
These questions give you the freedom to ask whatever you’d like. There are no restrictions on customer responses and are given in the form of a free text box for them to fill in.
These are great when you want to learn about very specific customer needs as the customer is free to respond how they wish. They’re also useful in identifying a specific issue you have with a product or service. If you notice sales starting to fall, try reaching out to past customers to find out why they’re no longer interested in that product.
However, you may find a lower response rate on open-ended questions given the additional time and effort you’re expecting from the customer to complete it.
Remember, all good survey questions need a specific goal and everything should be geared towards improving the customer experience and creating a better product. Never just send out surveys for the sake of it. Think carefully about what you want to achieve but also feel free to experiment with the different types of questions listed above.
Monitor your response rates, find out what works for you and what types of questions are returning the most valuable responses and you’ll soon be producing highly targeted, specific and useful surveys.
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