Home » Surveys » How to Create Effective Survey Questions
Last edited: October 20, 2022
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Being able to create effective survey questions is more valuable than you might think.
If you nail this part, you’ll be able to:
Let’s upgrade your surveys to the next level!
Knowing your customers and their needs and measuring customer experience is absolutely critical to business success.
Every business owner wants to know what their customers think about them and their services. Luckily, this valuable knowledge can be gathered with well put together online surveys.
When you’re able to write great survey questions, you can truly learn what you’re doing well. Additionally, you can start fixing those areas where you have issues.
Great survey questions can also help you:
Unfortunately, a lot of companies aren’t getting the value out of surveys that they could. Many organizations only use surveys reactively, but not proactively.
A prime example is, when a company experiences a dip in sales and want to find out why that is, they start surveying everyone who didn’t buy after a meeting. If they would’ve been doing this all along, they mightn’t have ever experienced that dip. Simply because they would’ve fixed any issues right after learning about them.
Another common mistake is to simply send out as many surveys as possible in bulk and hoping for the best. The best being that everyone loves you and there’s nothing you should improve. This is very rarely the case.
By being proactive and having clear goals when sending surveys helps you constantly learn from your customers. This information will help you improve your product and services and help prevent customer churn.
The truth is though, you need to be asking the right questions at the right time for surveys to be effective. Customers are more likely to respond and give high-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.
In contrast, companies that have had direct contact (both online and face to face) with customers find response rates pushing up to 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.
Based on your goals you can determine in which customer touch points you’d like to survey your customers.
What is the easiest way for your customers to reply? If they aren’t tech-savvy, maybe you should send them a letter with a stamped return envelope to reach all target groups.
For most people, email or SMS work just fine.
The closer to an interaction you can send the survey to a customer, the more likely you’re to get really useful insights on your operations. Emotional responses are at their highest, when they’ve just been had an experience with your brand. Try to make sure that the last impression you make is the most positive one.
The phenomena is also called the peak-end rule.
Let’s dive deeper into how to craft the best survey questions.
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 you know how to put together a good survey question and have a specific goal. Next up, we’ll run through some of the types of questions and go over when to use them with some practical examples.
When using the examples below, try to stick to the same question type per survey. If you use many different types of questions within one survey, it can be a little confusing for the recipient.
Question types that use a likert scale are one of the simplest types of questions.
They usually ask the customer to rank a question on a scale of 0-5, for example, with 5 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 “Likert 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.