Best Practice to Build Effective Customer Experience Surveys

Philip Cleave
September 26, 2019

According to a recent Gartner study, more than two-thirds of companies now compete primarily on the basis of customer experience – up from just over a third in 2010. These findings reveal that customer experience (CX) is now more critical to business success than ever before. So, the ability to measure how your customers feel about your business through a customer experience survey is vital.

While building an effective online survey for your customers is key to this, you’ll know that trying to gather their feedback, without taking up too much of their time is a continual challenge. Therefore, you’ll want to collect as much valuable information from them as you can in as few questions as possible.

That’s why we have put together some advice below to help you with this.

8 tips to build better customer experience surveys

1) Clearly worded questions are essential

If you’ve ever read a survey that you found difficult to understand, chances are you never completed it. That’s why it’s vital to carefully craft every word, to ensure they are as enticing and simple to understand, to help you to collect as much information from your customers as possible.

2) Avoid questions that make your responses more difficult to interpret

In order to ensure your feedback is as useful as you can make it, you’ll need to ensure the questions you have constructed are less likely to yield responses that are difficult to interpret. Questions that are overly complicated or too subjective can be especially challenging for you to define.

For example, a customer question such as “What are your chances of returning to our cafe this year, in terms of a percentage?”

While the objective of this question maybe to measure customer loyalty, its over reliance on personal estimates is more likely to yield difficult to interpret results.

3) Order your questions in line with your respondents’ experience

While the flow of your questions is important, you also need to think about how they are ordered and whether they best match your customers’ experiences in terms of encouraging them to complete your survey.

A bit of order tweaking can make a significant difference to the volume of survey response you get back. Here’s some considerations to think about.

  • Place questions that help get respondents more familiar with the survey taking process at the beginning
  • Gradually ramp up to those questions that address more complex or granular topics
  • Test run your survey before you distribute it to customers, so you can get a better feel for how well it flow

4) Use open ended questions sparingly

Open-ended questions can enable you to gather some great insight but knowing when to use them is critical if you are to best maximize their value.

The most important thing to note is that open-ended questions require more time to complete than other question types such as multiple choice or drop downs, so you don’t want to include too many, otherwise you’ll risk your survey falling victim to respondent fatigue.

5) Respond quickly to any negative feedback

If one of your customers provides openly negative comments about your brand, it’s essential to respond directly to that person as soon as you can.

Responding via a personal telephone call or email is best, as it demonstrates that you truly care about them and their experiences. This can be further reinforced with a small gift or handwritten note*.

Timing is important too, as your approach will appear less sincere if too much time has elapsed between your customer’s feedback and your response. So, when you first get your survey responses back, sift through them to identify negative customers and reach out to them directly.

6) Always thank customers who provide great feedback

When customers tell you how much they enjoyed interacting with your brand, be sure to thank them for their comments.

Similarly, to reaching out directly to those who provide negative comments, you’ll also want a more direct approach to those that have provided great feedback, in order to further strengthen these relationships.

Sending a nice handwritten note or gift to those who have left you a great company review may convert them from a brand loyalist to a brand evangelist.

7) Mark any personal questions as optional

Some people may not be comfortable with sharing personal information, so if you need to ask respondents any questions, which are likely to reveal their gender, age, or income this must be done delicately. The best way to achieve this is by making these questions optional.

Failure to do this could risk alienating people uncomfortable with sharing their personal information, who will then be less likely to complete your survey, which could negatively impact the value of responses you are able to collect.

8) Think about developing a Customer Advisory Board

If you have identified a key group of people who have been using your products or services for a long time and have significant knowledge about your company from a customer perspective that may benefit your brand, you may like to invite them to form a Customer Advisory Board (CAB).

Not only is a CAB a great way of increasing customer rapport, it can also provide additional insight that can be extremely useful in terms of guiding your product or service roadmap, and your future strategic direction.

Review your processes now to create stronger customer experience surveys

Taking longer to think about your questions and processes during the planning stage of a CX survey can yield much better and more valuable results in the future, so it’s worth the extra investment in time.

Why not consider incorporating some of the points we’ve outlined into your own survey. And if you are not completely sure about what questions you should include, you may like to take a look at our questionnaire templates Featuring a great selection of pre-built questionnaires and sample surveys, which you can customize to suit your needs. This should give you everything you need to help get you started.

*It is important to note, there may be privacy or GDPR consent issues around this, so be sure to check first with whoever in your organization is responsible for making decisions in these areas.


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