A Guide to the Customer Satisfaction Survey

It’s every company’s dream to have loyal, lifelong customers. In order to get this, you need to understand what your customers want, how they view your brand, and how they feel about your products and/or services. To put it simply, you need to understand their entire customer experience, from beginning to end. 

One way to do this is through customer satisfaction surveys. Let’s dive into what they are, why they are important, and the different variants of them that you can use. 

What Is a Customer Satisfaction Survey?

Customer satisfaction surveys enable you to measure your customer’s satisfaction with your businesses products, services, experiences, or even your staff. These surveys offer a holistic view of different aspects of your customers’ experiences. They can use a rating system that can be tracked over time, offer specific insights into your customers’ pain points, and help you work to continue to meet your customer’s needs. 

Why Are Customer Satisfaction Surveys Important?

Customer satisfaction surveys are important because they are a direct insight into the customer experience. They help you understand how your business is viewed, and what you can do to improve that. Having high satisfaction rates is important to your brand for many reasons. Satisfied customers spread the word through word-of-mouth marketing. Satisfaction is a great indicator of retention, customer loyalty, and new customer acquisition through referrals.

Customer Retention

Knowing your customers is beneficial from a financial standpoint. Most customers feel that companies should make more of an effort to cater to their feelings and walk out if those needs aren’t met. Maintaining customers is much cheaper than gaining new ones, so ensuring they are satisfied with the service or product, ensures customer retention.

Happy Customers Stay Loyal and Spend More

Research shows that if customers are treated well, they will purchase more. As a matter of fact, your returning customers will spend around 67% more than first-time customers. Measuring which interactions your customers value will help you evaluate what they are willing to pay more for.

Satisfied Customers Spread the Word

If customers have a good experience they are more likely to tell a friend or recommend a service. This can have a knock-on effect for the reputation of your company. Most Americans think word of mouth is the most trustworthy form of recommendation. This can however go the other way, in that unsatisfied customers can also tarnish a company’s reputation. It is essential to monitor how your customers feel with a customer satisfaction survey.

How to Measure Customer Satisfaction

If you want to know just how satisfied your customers are, you need to go directly to the source and ask them. Customer satisfaction surveys are the best way to identify the highlights and the pinch points of your product or services. You need a metric to help quantify the experience your customers have, which all starts by establishing a framework for their feedback.

Three Crucial Customer Satisfaction Metrics

There are many ways to measure customer satisfaction, but there are a few that are more prominent, popular and productive than their counterparts. Here are three of the most common types of customer satisfaction surveys or measurements:

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

Customer Satisfaction scores are an attempt at capturing how satisfied customers are with a company’s goods and services. A survey asks a customer to rate their satisfaction, typically on a scale from 1 to 5.

Net Promoter Score (NPS®)

Net Promoter Score® (NPS) is a trademarked metric between -100 and 100 that captures in aggregate the propensity of a company’s customers to attract and refer new business or/and repeat business.

Customer Effort Score (CES)

The Customer Effort Score is an index from 1 to 7 that measures how easy a company makes it for customers to deal with its products and services. A company that provides effortless service gets a 7 while a company that makes it difficult gets a 1. In other words, the higher the CES, the better.


For example, your customer satisfaction survey could instruct your customers to rate their satisfaction with a service or product on a scale of 1-5. If you want to get an idea of how your customers view your brand, you can use the Net Promoter Score (NPS) that asks how likely a customer is to recommend your company to a friend using a scale of 0-10.


Deciding on the rate metric and the best response type will depend on what you want to know. What drives the experience of your customers? What causes them to feel the way they do about your brand or business offering? As you hone your feedback survey questions and the type of metrics that benefit your business most, you can collect data over time and gain greater insights.

Question Types to Include in Your Customer Satisfaction Survey

Embarking on the journey of creating a customer satisfaction survey is akin to crafting a conversation with your customer base—each question type serves as a different form of dialogue, each with its own strengths and considerations. Here are some core question types that you should consider including in your customer satisfaction surveys: 

Likert-Scale Questions

Likert-scale questions are the bread and butter of nuanced feedback. They invite respondents to indicate their level of agreement or satisfaction across a symmetrical, often five or seven-point scale. When you’re seeking to grasp not just the “what,” but the “how much,” Likert scales are invaluable. These are particularly effective when you aim to measure various dimensions of the customer experience, such as ease of use, quality, or responsiveness. They are straightforward for customers to understand and quick to complete, boosting completion rates and, by extension, the richness of your customer satisfaction survey data.

Multiple Choice Questions

The jack-of-all-trades in the survey world, multiple-choice questions, offer pre-set answers that make it easier to standardize responses. Ideal for quantitative analysis, these questions help to streamline the data collection process. Want to know which features are most useful to your customer base? Or maybe you’re curious about how often respondents use your service? A well-crafted multiple-choice question can provide that clarity. Importantly, keep the options mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive to avoid ambiguity—a cornerstone principle of customer satisfaction survey best practices.

Open-Text Questions

If Likert-scale questions give you the “how much,” open-text questions deliver the “why.” They are your gateway to the qualitative nuances that multiple-choice or Likert-scale questions can’t capture. They provide the space for customers to articulate their thoughts, emotions, and suggestions freely. While they may be more time-consuming to analyze, the richness of the insights gained can be deeply revealing. Open-text questions are especially useful when you’re searching for constructive criticism, in-depth product feedback, or new ideas for improvement. It’s like having a one-on-one conversation with your customer, but at scale.

Binary Questions

Binary questions cut to the chase. They are a straightforward yes-or-no format that is quick to answer and easy to analyze. These are your go-to when you need a clear-cut view of a situation. Did the customer find what they were looking for? Was the check-out process smooth? The simplicity of binary questions makes them highly effective for issues that are black and white. However, their simplicity also means they lack the depth of insight gained from other question types, so use them judiciously within your customer satisfaction survey.

Follow Up Questions

The follow-up question is where the art of survey design truly comes to life. After capturing the core data, use follow-up questions to drill down into specifics. Was a customer dissatisfied with their purchase? A well-placed follow-up can reveal whether it was due to product quality, delivery time, or perhaps customer service. Follow-ups are instrumental in adding layers of understanding to your basic findings, allowing you to formulate more precise and impactful action plans. They’re the epitome of turning data into dialogue, contributing to a customer-centric culture that values feedback at every turn.

20 Customer Satisfaction Survey Question Examples

There are a wide variety of questions you can ask across multiple types of surveys, it just depends on what you are looking to get insight on. Here are examples of categories of questions and example questions.

Product Usage

  • How long have you been using the product?
  • How often do you use the product or service?
  • Does the product help you achieve your goals?
  • What is your favorite tool or portion of the product or service?

Demographics

  • Where are you located?
  • What is your level of education?
  • Where do you work and what’s your job title?
  • What industry are you in?

Satisfaction Scale

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied are you with your experience today?
  • Did you feel that our team answered your inquiry promptly?
  • Do you agree or disagree that your issue was effectively resolved?
  • How likely are you to return to our website?

Open-Text

  • How can we improve your experience with the company?
  • What can our employees do better?
  • How can our employees better support your business’s/your goals?
  • Why did you choose our product over a competitor’s?

Longevity

  • May we contact you to follow up on these responses?
  • Can we connect you with a customer success manager via chat?
  • Would you be open to discussing upgrade options for your product?
  • Can we send you a list of useful resources for getting the most out of your product?

Customer Satisfaction Survey Design Best Practices

One of the most important things to remember when designing customer acquisition surveys is that if your survey is too long, or too tedious, you will not get responses. Timing your surveys right, and designing them effectively will help you get all the information you need to keep your customers happy and satisfied with your products. To get the most out of your customer satisfaction survey efforts, here are some of the dos and don’ts of the process.

Do

  • Ask for the overall company rating first. Starting with someone’s overall impression of your company can help you compare your business to your competitors and your industry’s market, which is important for creating internal benchmarks.
  • Allow for open-text feedback. There are pros and cons to both free-response questions and more limited-response questions. In some aspects, it’s easier to gather hard and definitive data with limited-response questions, but you also need to understand the motives and concerns behind someone’s feedback by learning details you may not have otherwise anticipated.
  • Always A/B Test Your Surveys. You wouldn’t put a new product into the market without first testing it with your target audience, right? The same principle applies to your customer satisfaction surveys. A/B testing—comparing two versions of your survey to determine which performs better—can radically improve the quality of the feedback you receive.
  • Optimize for mobile. Mobile apps and devices are growing in popularity and not as many people are using a desktop computer to complete their customer satisfaction survey. If your survey process is clunky on mobile or takes too long, customers are less likely to finish or even start the survey to begin with.

Don’t

  • Ask double-barrel questions. Your question needs to focus on one aspect or issue—a double-barrel question covers more than one issue but only allows for one response. To reduce confusion or gathering inaccurate data, simplify your questions.
  • Make the survey too long. If you lose your respondent’s interest with a huge customer satisfaction survey, you’ll miss out on helpful information and make customers feel like they wasted their time. Satisfaction surveys don’t often need to exceed 10 questions.
  • Use internal or industry jargon. The language you use will not only leave a certain impression on your customers, but if respondents can’t understand what you’re really asking them, they may not respond accurately or even finish the survey.

How to Distribute Your Customer Satisfaction Survey for Optimal Data

Navigating the intricate landscape of customer satisfaction surveys requires a thoughtful approach, from choosing the right platform to identifying the optimal timing and debating the merits of incentives. In the upcoming sections, we’ll demystify these key considerations. We’ll explore how the medium of your survey can shape its effectiveness, why timing matters in capturing the most accurate customer sentiments, and the pros and cons of incentivizing your respondents. Get ready to elevate your customer satisfaction survey strategy with these essential insights.

Choosing the Right Platform for Your Customer Satisfaction Survey

  • Online Platforms: In today’s digital age, online platforms such as social media channels, your company’s website, and dedicated survey platforms are powerful tools. They offer the convenience of anytime, anywhere access and provide immediate feedback. Online surveys can be designed to be visually appealing, easily shareable, and interactive.
  • Emails: Still an effective method, emails allow for a direct reach to your customer’s inbox. With a compelling subject line and a personalized touch, it can drive higher response rates. Plus, the convenience of answering when it suits them makes emails a preferred method for many.
  • In-app Prompts: For businesses with mobile or desktop applications, in-app prompts can be a seamless way to gather feedback. As users interact with your app, strategically timed prompts can ask about their immediate experience. It’s timely and directly related to the user’s current action, ensuring relevant feedback.

Deciding When to Send Customer Satisfaction Surveys

  • Post-purchase: Once a customer completes a purchase, their experience with your product or service is fresh in their mind. A short, focused customer satisfaction survey can help gauge their immediate reactions.
  • After Service Experiences: If a customer has interacted with your customer service team, be it for a query, complaint, or any other reason, it’s essential to know how they felt about the interaction. Sending a survey shortly after can provide insights into your team’s performance and areas for improvement.

To Incentivize Responses or Not to Incentive Responses? 

Pros of Offering Rewards:

  • Higher Response Rates: A small token of appreciation can motivate customers to take a few minutes out of their day to provide feedback.
  • Positive Sentiment: Offering rewards can leave a positive impression, showcasing your brand’s appreciation for their time and effort.

Cons of Offering Rewards:

  • Quality of Responses: Some customers might rush through the survey or provide inauthentic responses just to claim the reward.
  • Cost Implications: Depending on the incentive, it might increase the cost of conducting the survey, which businesses need to factor into their budget.

How to Turn Customer Feedback Into Action

Once you have gathered useful and relevant data from your customer satisfaction survey, it falls back on your business to make that data impactful and lucrative. If you want to actually improve the customer experience, here are some core principles to keep in mind.

Close the loop:

Negative feedback is always going to exist, and to show that a customer’s response matters, respond quickly after receiving that feedback from customer satisfaction surveys. This boosts customer loyalty, even for those that didn’t have a great initial experience.

Analyze for trends:

Dig into your metrics and data to see if you can identify any patterns or commonalities. If more than half of your respondents struggled to navigate the online store on your website, then it may be time to revamp or redesign your website interface.

Company-wide effort:

Make sure you align your improvement efforts at every level of your organization. From product development to customer service, everyone needs the same expectations and strategy, which often means greater communication and collaboration. Feedback from customer satisfaction surveys can help different teams and departments come together to improve and prioritize the right elements of their projects.

Other Ways to Understand Customers

Using customer satisfaction surveys is a key component of improving your business and understanding what your customers need. When it comes to marketing, there are even more things you can do outside of CSATs and surveys. It’s best to approach customer needs from several angles, including customer satisfaction surveys and the following strategies.

Personas:

User personas are detailed portfolios of your target customers that highlight a made-up customer that emulates the primary motives, needs, and concerns of specific users. This helps you group certain users that you can better serve and address their pain points.

Market research:

Customer satisfaction surveys are part of your research, but you can go deeper by learning about your market customers. Gathering this kind of data helps you identify customer fears, drives, frustrations, and preferences, which can be used to bolster both products and the customer experience.

Heatmaps:

A heatmap is a visual depiction of user behavior that documents where users click, tap, and scroll—essentially identifying how users interact with your website. What pages are performing well and what elements are being ignored? This makes it much easier to discover what is working well and what is distracting on your website.

To learn more about customer satisfaction surveys and the best way to utilize them, download our free white paper here!

5 Tips For Choosing the Right Survey Rating Scale

You’re sitting down to carve out the newest survey in your customer experience (CX) program. You know what touchpoint you’re examining, what you’re hoping to learn, and what questions you’re going to ask. Now it’s time to settle on the survey rating scale you’ll use.

Unsure of which scale to choose? I’m Kiri Burgess, a Senior CX Consultant at InMoment APAC. Together, with our Director of Marketing Sciences, Sharon Allberg, in this post we’ll share with you a collection of best practice tips for using rating scales in your customer surveys 

What Is a Survey Rating Scale? 

If you’ve ever put together a customer survey, you will no doubt have used a rating scale as an option for respondents. 

Survey rating scales are a way to ask a “closed question” to survey respondents, and collect valuable input in a quantitative way. Here’s an example:

There are a number of important considerations when using rating scales including:

  • Number of scale points
  • Anchoring of scale points
  • Midpoints
  • Colors and images

The choice of which survey rating scale to use can be perplexing. And while academic research is vast, it’s not always relevant to market or customer experience research, which can leave a number of unanswered questions.

Whatever scale you choose, the aim with a survey rating scale is to limit individual interpretation and ambiguity. In an ideal world, you want all respondents to view a scale in the same way.

Having reviewed scale literature and our own internal research; then overlaid client and research experience, here are five tips for survey rating scale success:

Here Are Five Pro Tips for Survey Rating Scale Success

Tip #1: Longer Scales Typically Reveal More Actionable Insight 

There is not a great deal of evidence on the difference in performance between shorter (i.e. 5 point) or longer (i.e. 10 point) scales from a respondent point of view—but the advantage of a longer scale is you’ll get greater differentiation in response. Responses will be more spread out due to having a longer scale. This typically results in stronger driver analysis revealing more actionable insight.  

Tip #2: Keep Survey Rating Scales as Consistent as Possible 

If you can, decide on a rating scale size and stick with it throughout your survey. Greater scale consistency will not only make it easier for respondents but it also makes it easier to communicate what a good result looks like to the business as all questions will calculate ‘good’ the same way with the same scale points. We understand that this isn’t always straight forward so if you do change your scale in your survey, that’s okay. Our advice would be not to chop and change scale lengths multiple times which will cause respondents confusion and fatigue.

Tip #3: Label Your Scales Appropriately 

How to best label your scale will depend on the scale length.  For shorter 5 point scales, we recommend labeling each scale point for clarity. However, this isn’t an easy task for longer 10 or 11 point scales as you quickly run out of space (particularly on mobile devices!). Therefore for longer scales, we recommend labeling the end points only. Whatever scale you go for, labels should only be attached to the appropriate single scale point.

Tip #4: When It Comes to Mid Points, Assess On a Case-by-Case Basis

Researchers like to include mid points for respondents who are undecided.

There is some evidence that neutral respondents will answer randomly if they don’t have a neutral option to pick; however, this point-of-view comes from the world of public policy research. Therefore, at InMoment we recommend a case-by-case approach and to include a midpoint if it makes sense. With satisfaction or agreement scales, it is more common to use a midpoint.

Tip #5: Avoid Scale Colors and Images 

Research has shown that coloring scales (even shades of gray) or adding images or icons (including smiley faces) is not recommended, as this leads to scales being inconsistently interpreted by respondents. Examples include colors being an issue for those who are color blind; and images, icons and smiley faces having different meaning for everyone, particularly those who are neurodiverse (which is estimated at 15-20% of the population).

There you have it—five best practices to help you avoid bias, optimise your surveys, and collect the most actionable insights possible. To learn more about best practice surveys, check out this paper on Transactional Customer Experience Survey Best Practices.

How to Become an Expert Survey Builder with InMoment

What do expert survey builders know that makes them so successful? Well, they’re always designing with the end in mind. From the very beginning, they’re thinking about outcomes such as: 

  • Why does this matter to my customers? 
  • How will I act on this feedback? 
  • What will my business gain? 

Strong and insightful surveys help businesses understand what they are getting right and where they need improvement. However, if your survey isn’t set up to ask the right questions at the right time, the data becomes irrelevant. 

Meaningful Experiences Start With Meaningful Data

To understand your customers and to get the most out of what they’re telling you, your survey design strategy needs to be spot on. Customers are often put off by long survey forms with irrelevant questions, which hinders their overall experience and can contribute to:

  • Declining Response Rates: Respondents fail to complete the survey and others may refuse to participate based on previous unpleasant experiences. 
  • Poor Quality Data: Respondents rush to get through surveys filled with questions that are irrelevant to them, or are forced into selecting answers which do not represent their true or complete feelings.
  • Missing Information: Respondents don’t have the opportunity to leave feedback in their own words on what went well and what could be improved.

Customers who decide to leave feedback through a survey which is built without consideration are becoming disengaged with the very feedback process designed to improve their experiences. But don’t worry, we will walk you through how to be the type of survey builder that takes into account the feedback experience, so that you can understand what actions need to be taken to improve customer experiences and even address your customers future needs!

Build Better Surveys to Improve Customer Experience 

A well designed survey gives your business access to a fountain of knowledge directly from your customers, detailing how you can better improve your product and service offerings to entice customers to do business with you time and time again. And who wouldn’t want access to that information?!

Better surveys means better customer information for your organization to act on, but it also means giving the customer a more consistent, relevant feedback experience. One that doesn’t interrupt, but is a mere continuation of their experience with your brand. 

If the survey questions are sent to the customer two months after their experience and the questions aren’t allowing that customer to express what they want to say, then it’s completely pointless. You will be receiving irrelevant, outdated information and the customer will also be frustrated and put off from leaving feedback. 

To get the most out of your surveys you should:

  1. Listen to your customers in real-time, when the experience is still fresh in their minds so you can capture the most information.
  2. Ask the right questions about the main touchpoints of their journey, not just the start and end. 
  3. Follow up on negative feedback to resolve issues before the customer churns and spreads the word. Negative experiences can often turn into positive ones if resolved in the right way. 
  4. Show the customer you are listening to them by following up with actions you have taken based on the feedback they have taken the time to leave. 

Design Your Survey to Gather Feedback at Every Touchpoint

Customer journeys can change on a dime and the only guarantee is that today’s journey looks nothing like yesterday’s—and tomorrow’s will certainly be something new. That’s why survey builders need to consider how to gather feedback at every touchpoint in real time.

Journey mapping workshops help you predict and plan for changes in customer behavior, so while your competitors are scrambling to adapt, you’re prepared to meet the evolving needs of the market. This approach has strong grounding in behavioral science and promotes a focus on the memorable moments within an experience that drive perception and behaviors.

InMoment’s Touchpoint Impact Mapping is an innovative way of understanding the moments that matter to customers. It is unique because it is based entirely on comment data drawn from customer feedback, ensuring a more accurate view of the customer’s memory of their experience. This creates an emotional picture of the journey that highlights what is most important to customers and also allows our clients to prioritize those moments that matter most to their customers.

Watch the video below to learn how banking giant Virgin Money leverages Touchpoint Impact Mapping to optimize the customer journey at key points:

How InMoment’s Active Listening Studio Can Help You Become an Expert Survey Builder

InMoment’s Active Listening Studio is a one of a kind listening suite that gives survey builders the control to gather feedback at every touchpoint, allowing customers to tell you what matters most to them without bombarding them with survey after survey. Active Listening Studio includes:

  • DIY Survey Creation
  • Our AI-powered Engagement Engine™
  • The Rapid Resolution Engine™
  • Our Eligibility Engine™
  • Social Monitoring
  • Multimedia Feedback

Leveraging these tools allows you to create a more effective targeted survey, optimize your listening strategy, and ultimately prove that you’ve improved experiences and your business. One of our global retail clients was even able to increase survey response rates by 37% and response length by 38%!

With an intuitive interface, InMoment’s DIY Survey Creation allows you to actively listen to what your customers, employees, markets, and users are saying. Paired with InMoment’s patented, AI-powered Engagement Engine™, rich conversations are encouraged by listening and responding to customers in real time, eliciting not only more, but more valuable responses.

DIY Surveys are a great way for brands to create and design unique surveys that engage targeted audiences through a multichannel approach. With InMoment’s survey builder tools, you are able to choose from best practice templates or create your own custom survey to match your particular brand standard needs. Plus, you can leverage in-app reporting where you can analyze response and completion rates and review survey performance seamlessly and with ease. 

Engage your audience at the right time to gain critical insights that will help you move your organization from experience monitoring to experience transformation. Whether you’re deploying your survey through multiple channels of distribution (like URL links, QR Codes or email), using our Invitation Management tool ensures the right surveys reach your desired target audience to collect feedback that drives Experience Improvement efforts in the moments that matter.

Want to learn more about how InMoment can help you conduct a better targeted survey—and improve your customer experiences, employee experiences, and beyond? Contact our team today and we’d be happy to explore the right options for your business!

How to Use Survey Templates to Drive Your Customer Feedback Efforts

Have you ever needed to get information from your customers, but weren’t sure what the best way to get it was? Or you weren’t sure which questions were the right ones to ask? Or you simply don’t have the time to build an entirely new survey from scratch? That’s where survey templates come in. 

Whether you are a small business owner looking to run your first survey, or you’re building a new transactional survey for all your locations nationwide, survey templates are there to guide you through the whole process. 

New to survey templates? Don’t worry, in this article we will cover:

  1. What is a Survey Template?
  2. What are the different types of Survey Templates?
  3. How Can I Create a Survey Based on a Survey Template?

What Are Survey Templates?

As you know, surveys are a great way to gather data from customers, do market research, and understand how the public views your brand. But, not every survey is built from scratch. 

Survey templates are guides for a survey that you would send out to your target demographic. You can select a template based on what you are looking for, and then fill out the building blocks with questions that you want answered! 

What Are the Different Types of Survey Templates?

Do you want to know how your customers felt the last time they purchased something from you? Or maybe you’re curious to understand how customers feel about your latest product? For every question, there is a survey template to help you answer it. 

Different templates help you answer different questions. Here are some of the major survey template categories:

  • Employee Experience Survey Templates: Helps you measure employee satisfaction and motivation. Allows you to turn feedback into actionable insights. 
  • Academic Evaluation Survey Templates: If you’re curious what students think about professors, curriculum, or facilities, this is the survey template for you. 
  • Satisfaction Survey Templates: If you’re looking to measure how a client feels about your services, or how your employees felt about an event, look no further! This is the survey template for you. 
  • Marketing and Market Research Survey Templates: Want to understand which demographic is gravitating towards your business? A Market Research Survey is right for you. 
  • Product and Industry Survey Templates: After releasing a new product, a Product Survey Template is a great way to understand how your customers feel about it! 
  • Customer Evaluation Survey Templates: Looking to get customer feedback or why a customer no longer wants your services? A Customer Evaluation Survey will help you to recover that at-risk revenue. 

How Can I Create a Survey Based on a Survey Template?

Once you have identified what kind of survey template is best for you, it’s time to build your survey. Don’t worry, it’s a breeze. 

When you are creating surveys with InMoment’s XI Platform, you have everything you need to have successful surveys. You’ll be able to easily collect feedback, customize questions, edit existing surveys, and invite customers and employees to provide feedback. 

Whether you choose the freedom to create your own surveys or solicit InMoment’s expert services to develop surveys as a service, you’ll receive seamless survey creation.  

When you are creating surveys, you can choose a pre-built survey template that already comes loaded with questions and is ready for launch! Then, just sit back, monitor response rates and watch the data come in. 

If you would rather see a survey with your own questions, you can take one of our customizable survey templates and customize them how you see fit!

Interested in using InMoment’s survey templates to take your business to the next level? Check them out here!

Survey Design 101

When gathering accurate and useful data, how the data is collected is just as important as the results it yields. Reliable insights are discovered when the questions are fair, unbiased, and relevant to the participants. This is why the design of the survey can ultimately determine the survey’s success.

What Is Survey Design?

Survey design is the detailed process of creating surveys that optimize the potential results that can be collected from a well-made questionnaire. Decent design takes into account the kind of questions, the quality of questions, the flow and organization of the survey, and the possible biases or conflicts of both questions and participants.

Though creating a questionnaire may seem simple at first, it can be a complicated and tedious process. Questions can be asked in different ways, both in form and language. How much context or detail is provided can sway a participant’s opinion. What questions are presented first will likely influence the questions posed later in the survey, which can impact results. 

5 Steps for a Seamless Survey Design

Consider the following survey design best practices that have been narrowed down to 5 essential steps. Depending on the topic or purpose of the survey, some steps should be taken into account more carefully than others.

Step #1: Identify the Survey Purpose

First and foremost, identify the purpose of the survey so that you can include the most relevant content in your survey design. It’s helpful to have an overarching purpose, and it’s even better to have multiple objectives that outline the details of your main goal. If you aren’t sure what your objectives should be, start asking some brainstorming questions to solidify your goals and establish a plan:

  • What is the demographic you are targeting?
  • What do you hope to discover by distributing this survey?
  • What kind of questions does this type of topic demand?
  • Do there need to be personalized questions at any point?
  • How will the answers be compiled and transformed into useful data?
  • What is your business or organization prepared to do based on the responses?
  • Who in your organization needs to be involved with the creation of the survey?

Knowing the objectives also helps you structure the survey correctly. It’s best to include the right sections within the survey outside of the actual questions. Some standards sections to include (which are often separated into different blocks for online surveys) are:

  • Introduction: The introduction needs to convey the purpose of the survey, provide instructions, set expectations for how long the survey will take, encourage honest answers, and reassure participants that their responses are secure.
  • Screeners: This section should ask questions that ensure that participants fall within the survey requirements for your objectives. This can include some appropriate demographic information, someone’s position in the company, or any other relevant information.
  • Content Questions: This is the main portion of the survey that features the most focused and topic-relevant questions.
  • Demographics: If you didn’t include demographic information in the screener section, add one after the main questions.
  • Redirect: After the questions and having participants submit their final answers, redirect them to a thank you page of some sort.

Understanding the ins and outs of the main purpose will not make the design of the survey better, but also keeps every question intentional and focused. Plus, if you completely understand the objectives and have a solid plan, you’ll be able to act on the results easier.

Step #2: Come Up with Questions

The most extensive part of the survey is often creating the actual questions. If you’ve planned according to your objectives, it’s easier to determine how many questions are needed and how long the questionnaire will be. Depending on the feedback you’re looking for, certain types of questions will be more beneficial than others. The most common options in surveys include the following forms.

  • Open/Close-Ended Questions: Open-ended questions allow for free responses that can completely vary but give more detailed answers, which will result in more qualitative. Close-ended questions only have so many variables and combinations, which will lead to more quantitative answers.
  • Multiple Choice: One of the most common types of questions, this format offers limited responses but also keeps things simple for participants and straightforward data.
  • Scale Questions: Scales are a great way to get multi-dimensional data while offering a measurable and simple set of options. Compared to multiple-choice, this offers much more range for more accuracy since they measure both which direction someone leans as well as the intensity of that leaning.
  • Slide bars: Similar to scale questions, bars help participants indicate to what degree they feel, think, or prefer one thing over the other on a more granular level. They also provide an interactive element to the survey.
  • Ratings: Rating questions are a great way to offer a range, but specifically for satisfaction about an activity, a product, an experience, a company, etc. Make sure these questions aren’t leading if you want authentic answers.
  • Multi-Select: One way to get more detailed data out of multiple-choice questions is to allow participants to select more than one of the multiple options (depending on the nature of the question, of course.) If you’re attempting to measure what kind of activities participants would like to see in the office, you can allow them to check multiple activities rather than just one.
  • Personal/Demographic Questions: These questions answer more specific questions to the individual and should be left until the end of the survey (see step 4).

Step #3: Refine Survey Questions by Eliminating Bias Factors

Biased answers are a top concern when it comes to surveys. The best results reflect the true feelings of participants without influencing answers one way or another. Remember: people take the path of least resistance, so simple, clear, and thoughtful questions work best. These are common pitfalls to watch for if you’re trying to figure out how to create a balanced survey.

Question Wording

The language used to create questions can yield different results, like the words “assistance to the poor” getting more support than “welfare”. Also, longer questions tend to be more confusing and more easily misinterpreted. Simple wording with clear, short questions helps the customer to answer more accurately.

Answer Order 

Sometimes the order of the answers provided affects results. If a survey is over the phone or in person, people struggle to remember multiple answers and sometimes choose either the first or last answer that they hear because that’s what they remember easiest.

Medium of the Survey 

Make sure that the form of the survey makes sense for the target audience and topic that you’re surveying. Things change between telephone, online, email, and in-person surveys.

Sensitive Subjects 

People don’t always want to share information about sensitive subjects and answer dishonestly about it. Consider your phrasing and reassure participants that responses are secure and confidential.

Social Pressure

Similarly, sensitive subjects that are either politicized or contentious sometimes lead people to not answer truthfully if they worry about social repercussions. Don’t use prestige bias where you associate a topic or answer with one group, i.e., describing a point by associating it with a trusted authority and then asking someone to agree or disagree with it.

Close-Minded or Non-Exhaustive Questions

The available answers need to allow respondents to answer as truthfully as possible. When the list of answers in a survey does not accurately reflect or fit all the potential answers of a consumer, the data can be skewed. For example, if you ask, “Do you ALWAYS exercise in the morning?” If someone almost always exercises in the morning, but not every day, they will put “no” which disrupts your data.

Open or Close-Ended Questions 

Does the survey want qualitative or quantitative data? Also note, too many open-ended questions can lead to burnout for the customer, so be mindful of how many questions you include in that format.

Length of Survey 

Speaking of burnout, length is one of the leading factors for survey completion and accuracy. The longer a survey is, the less accurate the results will be and the more likely the customer will not finish it.

Leading Questions 

Leading someone to answer in one or another doesn’t survey people’s sincere opinions. For example, asking a customer “How enjoyable was your visit with us today?” instead of “Rate your visit with us today” suggests to the customer that they at least enjoyed their visit a little bit and discourages honest answers. The first question is biased and leading.

Number of Questions per Page 

If there are too many questions on a page, the customer may mix up the questions and answer the wrong ones, or simply get overwhelmed and stop taking the survey. Take advantage of white space, and if you’re doing a survey online or with a program, don’t make the participants scroll for too long.

Branding 

Deciding whether or not the survey design should reflect the company’s brand or if it should be a blind survey. This usually depends on the purpose of the survey. If, for example, a company is looking for competition information, removing its brand would be wise.

Step #4: Have an Intentional Question Sequence

The order of the questions matter. Many people opt for a “funnel” sequence where the questions are more general, then specific, and then general again. 

  1. Broad at the Start: These questions will usually warm up the participants to the survey topics and help them familiarize themselves with the formatting and flow of the survey.
  2. Details for the Majority: The middle portion makes up most of the detailed questions that require more focus or deliberation.
  3. Personal Questions at the End: Any necessary or useful personal questions should be saved for the end, which eases participants out of the deep-concentration section and offers more closure.

There are other approaches and sequences to consider, but the funnel approach is fairly universal for most topics. Keep the questions concise and order them logically—people may get easily frustrated if the subjects bounce back and forth too much. By not jumping around excessively, you also prevent accidentally providing too much context for future questions, which can influence the responses given.

Along those same lines, listing more specific questions first can influence a question, too. If you first ask if someone enjoys their position at work and then follow it with a broader question about their overall work satisfaction, the first question will likely influence how the second one is answered.

It’s also important to remember that personal questions work best at the end. Studies show that too many personal questions in the beginning can make some respondents feel anxious about their demographics; they usually feel most worried about their own demographics affecting results. These questions are usually easier to answer and offer more of a cool down, encourage unbiased responses, and create a sense of resolution for participants.

Step #5: Test Out the Survey Design Before Distributing It

Finally, if you really want to perfect your survey research design, test, test, test. Even if you believe that the first iteration of the survey is a masterpiece, it’s essential to test the survey with a focus group or via pretesting. This helps ultimate biased questions, catches misinformation, and prevents wasting time and resources on an ineffective questionnaire. Testing should consider:

  • How long the survey takes
  • Confusing questions
  • Repetitive questions
  • Leading questions or wording issues
  • Missing questions or spelling errors
  • Miscellaneous problems that arise

Survey Design Is Easy with InMoment

Reliable data is the key to sincere, realistic, and effective improvement within a company. Businesses with this kind of feedback can make informed decisions that directly impact the people, clients, and consumers of your organization.

Now that you are prepared with persuasive survey design skills, you can optimize both the quality, design, and effectiveness of your survey with InMoment. Our XI intelligent platform allows you to easily put together an intuitive, clear, and sharp-looking survey. Discover just how simple it is to use InMoment for all your survey design needs.

Three Ways Unstructured Customer Feedback Helps You Improve Experiences

It’s no secret that businesses need unstructured customer feedback to have a successful customer experience (CX) program. Without honest, detailed criticism or praise, it’s hard to assess how well a product or service is doing, but it’s also difficult to understand the “why” and take action to improve. That’s why more and more, customers are seeing open-ended questions in surveys instead of metric-based ones: unstructured feedback can lead to a more authentic insight into the customer experience.

But how should brands harness the power of unstructured feedback in their existing surveys? And how can they take the next step of not only collecting that feedback, but derive actionable intelligence from it so they can improve experiences? Our latest eBook, “Unstructured CustomerFeedback: The Key to Unlocking the True Voice of Customer,” walks you through best practices we’ve learned from our many years of experience. This blog will spell out the major benefits of employing those best practices. Let’s get started!

Three Ways Unstructured Customer Feedback Improves Experiences

  1. Gathers More Genuine and Less Filtered Responses
  2. Collects the Missing Pieces
  3. Follows the Right Patterns

Benefit #1: Gathers More Genuine and Less Filtered Responses

What makes for a “good” survey? Businesses often make the mistake of only asking metric-based questions, which prompt customers to answer very specific questions in very specific ways. This leaves brands only learning what they want to learn and possibly missing other important aspects of the customer experience.

Let’s say a restaurant uses an NPS question to gauge the success of their customer experiences. The brand’s post transaction survey therefore reads, “on a scale of 1-10 how much would you recommend us?” Customers then respond with only a single number and the restaurant is left wondering why customers rate it as low as a 5. As you can see, this metric-based question can only measure the experience, and therefore fails to explain why a customer would or wouldn’t recommend the eatery. 

If the restaurant had followed up the first question with an open-ended “why” question, then its feedback would include the reasoning behind the score, and would help the business understand what it needs to do to improve the CX program. With open-ended questions, brands hear the voice of customer more clearly because customers have more freedom to candidly express themselves, telling your brand what they actually want to tell you, not what you want to hear.

Benefit #2: Collects the Missing Pieces

Open-ended questions mean unpredictable and varied responses, but that’s a good thing! The feedback you receive is so much more detailed, so it can answer questions and address issues your brand wouldn’t have considered in the first place.

One of our clients, a large hotel and entertainment brand, couldn’t figure out why one of its locations was receiving such low scores from guests. This is because it was using a metric that could only see that guests were unsatisfied with their stay, but not exactly why. Through text analytics, the brand was able to analyze its unstructured data and discover that an air filtration problem was allowing smoke from the casino to enter the rooms.

By leaving survey questions open-ended, your brand not only learns the genuine opinion of customers, but also about problems it might have never known about. At the same time, feedback is not always negative; it’s important for your business to know how well it’s executing at certain touchpoints along the customer journey! These game changing pieces of intelligence can help to fill in the blanks so you have a truly holistic view of the customer experience.

Benefit #3: Follows the Right Patterns 

Listening to the true voice of customer gives your business a greater capability to track common problems your customers are having over time. Your brand will then be able to identify and analyze patterns that emerge from responses and address those issues with an actionable plan.

For instance, let’s imagine that customers are having complications with your company’s website. A recent system update has caused a bug that’s disrupting functionability, leading to a seemingly random rise in customer frustration. With unstructured feedback, your brand would be able to recognize a new trend in responses, spot the platform issue, and take action to fix it. 

Unstructured responses make it easier to recognize both positive and negative trends in your CX program, and also helps you to pinpoint new areas to focus on as customer expectations develop over time. 

In the end, failure to employ unstructured feedback means that your CX program will have a hard time realizing its potential. Metrics alone can only measure the past; they can’t help you take action and create better experiences in the future. That’s why the stories you derive from open-ended questions are so vital to your big picture success—and to your bottomline.

 
Unstructured customer feedback can help your business improve customer experiences by unlocking the true Voice of Customer—but how do you best leverage that feedback in your program strategy? Read our latest eBook to read about the best practices recommended by our experts here!

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