Embracing direct feedback from your customers can help you learn a lot about what your company is doing right and what you might improve upon to be more successful. Online customer surveys are one way to gather insight.
Like any method of customer research, its usefulness depends on how well they’re planned and executed. And one of the most important components of planning a survey is crafting the questions it will include.
Tips for Creating Effective Customer Survey Questions
Identify What You Want to Accomplish.
Developing a survey that gives you telling answers starts with knowing what you want to learn. Do you want to get insight into how you might improve the overall experience your customers have? Do you want to home in on what product enhancements would better satisfy your customers’ needs? Or do you want to find out if your customer support services are meeting customers’ expectations?
As you begin to prepare your survey, consider your end goal and eliminate any questions that don’t align with it.
Avoid Tipping the Scales.
If you include too many questions that invite yes/no answers, require rating something on a scale, or give multiple choices, you might unintentionally constrain customers’ input or lead them to answer in a certain way. Consider incorporating some open-ended questions in your survey as well to give customers the freedom to share their thoughts in their own words.
Beware of overwhelming your respondents by making your survey too labor-intensive, though. Consider presenting brief questions first, and then provide the opportunity for customers to offer additional information in a free-form field at the end of your survey. Another approach is to ask simple questions and then follow each with an open-ended question such as “Why do you feel this way?” or “If yes, why?” or “Why or why not?” etc.
Use Plain Language.
Only use industry jargon and technical terms in your questions if you’re certain your survey takers will understand them. If your customers are confused about what you’re asking, they might answer inaccurately, skip questions, or decide to quit the survey before completing it.
Keep It Short and Sweet.
Respect your customers’ time by keeping the overall survey length short. According to an analysis by SurveyMonkey, the more questions a survey has, the fewer time respondents will spend on each question. Shorter surveys (between 5 to 10 questions) may help ensure that your respondents give adequate attention to answering all of your questions.
Customer Satisfaction – Important, Without Question
Regardless of the online platform, you use to implement your surveys, creating effective questions is a must if you want to make your surveys successful discovery tools. If you need guidance as you plan your customer research strategies, contact SCORE FREDERICK to receive an assigned business mentor. With a wide breadth of experience in all aspects of entrepreneurship, we can provide valuable insight and feedback.
Charles W. Thomas is the Chairman of SCORE Frederick and the former President/CEO of Mid-Atlantic Federal Credit Union. He is a certified SCORE mentor.
SCORE is a nationwide volunteer network of 310 chapters dedicated to the formation, growth, and success of small businesses. SCORE Frederick provides free and confidential business advice and mentoring to entrepreneurs, start-up businesses, and to established small businesses in Fredrick and Carroll counties. SCORE Frederick also offers workshops for entrepreneurs and established businesses. SCORE Frederick continually seeks volunteers with small business and or management experience retired or working to become chapter mentors. For details visit http://www.scorefrederick.org or call 240-215-4757.