Insights | Customer Experience

Creating Impactful Customer Surveys

Getting honest feedback is crucial for every organization, so make sure your customer surveys drive business improvement while enhancing customer loyalty and satisfaction.

a hologram showing a customer survey floats above a laptop as a man fills it out online.

As businesses continue to evolve their traditional customer service paradigms by using more comprehensive Customer Experience (CX) strategies, customer surveys will continue to play a vital role in hearing the voice of the customer.  

When implemented thoughtfully, insights gained from customer surveys can identify areas for growth or change and enhance customer loyalty and satisfaction. However, if implemented haphazardly, surveys can distance or alienate customers.  

This article will discuss the benefits of customer surveys, review potential drawbacks, and offer suggestions on how to increase the chances that your surveys will work for your business and not against it. 


Why Customer Surveys?

Customer surveys offer one of the best and most cost-effective tools that you can use to understand more about your customers and how they perceive and interact with your business. Customer surveys are used by both small, growing businesses and large, established corporations alike. 

Below are just some of the benefits of using customer surveys:   

Build rapport with customers. Engaging with your customers and asking them for their opinions shows them that their input is valued, furthering their relationship with your brand.  

Retain customers. It is 6-7 times more expensive to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one. Providing you acknowledge and act on survey feedback, your customers are more likely to remain customers and become loyal brand ambassadors.   

Understand different customer perspectives. Each customer offers a unique perspective on the buying process and your business. Gathering feedback from different perspectives gives you a more comprehensive view of how customers interact with your business. 

Repair the harm. Only 1 in 26 (only about 4%) of customers will tell a business about their negative experience; the rest may simply leave. With a customer survey, you initiate a discussion and show you are willing to listen to and proactively address issues, making it more likely your customers will engage and stay with you. 

Identify trends. After several iterations of surveys, you can learn how customer needs and preferences change over time, helping you make informed business decisions and establish new goals.


[Read More – A Commitment to Success: Our 2023 Client Satisfaction Survey Results]


Identify gaps. Surveys can help identify what is – and is not – working across your business and indicate areas for growth that you may not have been aware of. 

Analyze how business changes are received. After implementing changes to your products or services, particularly changes made based on previous customer feedback, ask your customers if the changes resulted in a more positive or negative experience. 


Potential Drawbacks of Surveys

Low response rates. Low response rates are the most challenging drawback of customer surveys as response rates provide insight into the accuracy of your collected data. Low response can be caused by factors such as a lack of respondent motivation or poor survey UX. Even the wording on the survey invitation can negatively impact response rates. The lower your response rate the smaller your actual sample group becomes, negatively affecting the reliability and quality of your results and can lead to the ever-dangerous nonresponse bias that occurs when an entire demographic in your sample does not respond. 

Low completion rates. Completion rates provide insight into the quality of your survey itself. Low completion rates indicate that respondents disliked the survey due to factors like poorly framed questions, survey length, misleading or unclear questions, and missing the target audience. 

Inaccurate responses. Customers who respond may provide inaccurate or dishonest answers due to factors such as memory lapses, lack of survey clarity, or social considerations.  

Response data can skew toward the poles. Some customers respond to surveys only when their experience is the very best or the very worst, and they may not respond to entire surveys or specific questions if their experience falls somewhere between the two poles. 




Suggestions for Creating Better Surveys

The following suggestions can dramatically improve your ability to create surveys that overcome the potential drawbacks. Before deploying a survey, it’s important to carefully consider how these suggestions can best be implemented to fit your specific business and your desired goals. 

Identify the target audience and goal. Clearly define who you want to hear from, what metrics you want to capture and analyze, and what the target metric scores are.


[Read More: The Top 7 CX Metrics and How to Use Them]


Exclude unnecessary questions. Only ask questions that directly help you meet your goal. Every question should have a defined purpose and a strong case for being included. If a question doesn’t fit the context of the survey or the answer would just be “nice to know”, exclude it. 

Define and maximize survey response rates. A good response rate is vital since it directly impacts the quality of your data. In general, a good response rate ranges between 20% and 30%If your response rate is less than 20%, you should take action to improve the survey. Tactics that can be used to improve a survey and increase response rates include: 

  • Consider incentives. Survey participation can increase when participants are incentivized. Some effective incentives include monetary items such as cash, gift cards, or coupons, and non-monetary items such as business swag or discounts to a company conference or course. Incentives are typically most effective when offering smaller incentives to each respondent instead of large incentives to just a few. 
  • Consider a survey panel. A survey panel consists of pre-selected respondents from a wide range of social backgrounds, interests, age, employment, and other demographics who volunteer to answer multiple surveys. When the same screened and qualified panel is used over multiple surveys, you can be more confident that the responses will represent equivalent comparisons.   
  • Send it now. Response rates increase when you ask for feedback immediately after a survey trigger occurs, and the feedback is 40% more accurate than feedback collected just 24 hours later. Aim to deploy your survey no more than two or three days after the customer interaction/touchpoint. When possible, consider using automation to automatically send a survey after an interaction. 
  • Keep it short. Limit the number of questions to 5-10 total. This includes the initial questions plus any contextually relevant follow-up questions. The survey should take no more than 10-12 minutes to complete. 
  • Consider using yes/no questions when possible. Though ratings scales are appropriate in some cases, they can lead to respondent interpretations that skew the resulting data. For example, what might be a 7/10 for one respondent might be a 6/10 for a second and 9/10 for another. Asking questions with yes/no or other single-choice answer options can greatly reduce the length and repetition of a survey while neutralizing respondent interpretations.  

Create an action plan for the results. Strive to clearly explain to respondents how you will use their feedback and take meaningful action on the results no more than 30-60 days after capturing data.  


In Summary 

It takes careful and thoughtful planning to create a survey that positively impacts your business and drives customer loyalty while reducing the risk of alienating customers. If you’d like more information about how RevGen Partners can help your company create impactful surveys and make them part of a comprehensive CX strategy, visit our Customer Experience site. 

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