Creating the Perfect Customer Survey in 5 Steps

Everyone knows that they need a customer survey but actually creating one is a major pain point for some businesses.

Creating the perfect customer survey doesn't have to be hair-thinning(ly) difficult. The internet is saturated in "survey quick tips", but, without the right infrastructure, your surveys can fall flat. Today, we're going to talk about creating the perfect customer survey. One that hits all of the main survey points, appeals to customers, and ensures that you aren't gathering meaningless data.

Why Create a Customer Survey?

"A satisfied customer is one who will continue to buy from you, seldom shop around, refer other customers and in general be a superstar advocate for your business." - Gregory Ciotti

Your business doesn't exist in a black hole. There's plenty of competition, and failing to measure customer satisfaction is a surefire way to lag behind. How do you know whether your customers like your new product/service? How do you go about finding and correcting internal issues? What are your customer-facing weak points (staff, retail locations, call centers, etc.?) Can you fulfill your customers need more efficiently?

If you've ever asked any of the above questions, you need a customer survey. They offer critical insights into business objectives, corporate infrastructure, consumer needs, and customer satisfaction. Really, customer surveys give you the ability to stay fluid in the ever-changing customer-centric market.

The Statistics

To "hammer-the-point-home" let's take a look at some customer survey statistics.

• U.S. based companies lose over $62-billion-a-year due to poor customer service.

• 51% of customers will refuse to do business with a company again after a single poor customer service incident.

• A 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits by 95%!

• 72% of companies say that improving customer service is their #1 priority.

• The average response for a customer survey is 24%, but well-created and expertly-designed surveys can reach over 50% response-rates!

Email surveys have higher response rates than in-app, telephone, or online surveys.

How to Create the Perfect Customer Survey (5 Steps)

Know questions you are going to ask

There's definitely a "right" and a "wrong" way to create a customer survey. Sure, surveys need to be specific to your business, and you can get creative with customer surveys. But, if you don't have the core infrastructure down, you're not going to be collecting valuable data, and your response rate will be abysmal. The right survey is only five steps away!

Step 1) Ask the Right Questions

Yes or no questions

When it comes to cutting unnecessary questions out of your survey, be ruthless. Question bloat is going to send your customers running away in record time. There is an average 17% drop is respondent rates when your survey is over 12 questions long. Customers don't want surveys to interfere with their personal time. Remember, customer satisfaction is more important to your business than it is to the customer — they have plenty of options!

You want to ask questions that are critical to your business needs. So, if you really don't need to know "where they first heard about your business," don't ask them. Don't start dotting the survey with questions that help you fill in marketing/sales gaps; there are other ways to get those answers. You want customer surveys to be centred around customer satisfaction.

To figure out which survey questions are critical to your business, start asking yourself some questions.

1. What metrics are you trying to capture?

2. What areas of your business are you looking to improve?

3. What kinds of questions are going to give you the best insights into your services?

4. Do you want to use the survey to capture other metrics (NPS, etc.?)

Once you've figured out what you're looking for, jot those questions down, then continue to the next section.

Step 2) Open-Ended vs. Closed-Ended

Once you've figured out what questions you want to ask, you need to figure out how you want to ask those questions. Do you want your questions to be open-ended or closed-ended? Really, you should be aiming for a combination of both. You want the majority of your questions to be closed-ended. These are the simple bubble-form questions that the customer can quickly fill out.

But, you need to include at least one open-ended question. Typically, we see this at the end of the survey in the form of a "respondent outlet." This is an area where the customer can explain their situation or why they gave the answers that they gave. Putting the "respondent outlet" at the end of a survey lets customers feel a sense of progress as they blaze through the closed-ended yes-or-nos.

The respondent outlet gives you more insight into the issues without forcing customers to spend a lengthy amount of time filling your survey out.

Step 3) Carefully Word Your Questions

Types of questions to ask

After you've figured out which questions you're going to ask and how you're going to ask them, you need to figure out specifics. When you're wording your questions, remember the following:

a. Don't make your questions "loaded."

Make sure that your questions have unbiased wording. Questions like "What do you think of our world-class service?" insert bias into the survey. You want to avoid this wherever possible. Not only because it's going to turn your customers off, but it will also "muddy" your data. Make sure that your avoiding questions that have a preassumed notion.

b. Avoid industry jargon.

Don't assume your customers' knowledge of your industry or any other industry. Make sure that your questions are simple, short, concise, and apply to every knowledge level. If the customer wants to get into your industry specifics, they can make use of the "respondent outlet at the end of the survey.

c. Make sure you're asking one question at-a-time.

Survey form example using Enginemailer

Avoid branching questions whenever possible. Questions that are linked to other questions may confuse the customer and impact the validity of the data you gather.

Step 4) Design Your Survey

Prebuilt templates you can use in Enginemailer

Once you've figured out all of your question specifics, it's time to design your survey. There are a ton of survey templates out there. If you're using Enginemailer, we offer some fantastic pre-built survey templates (send an edit my way if this is false). If you're sending them out yourself, find a template that's attractive but functional.

Step 5) Automate and Analyse

Now that your survey is ready-to-go, it's time to send it out to your customers. There are multiple ways to set this up. If you're using Enginemailer, you can segment and automate the surveys to be sent out to your customers. If you're doing this "by hand," you can send surveys out to customer’s post customer service interaction or post-purchase.

All that's left after the survey hits the customer’s inbox is to wait, gather data, and analyse that data. You should set up a survey-response team if possible. This team can reach out to customers who leave negative comments or state specific problems in the respondent outlet.

Customer Survey Q&A

FAQs of customer survey form

When should I send my surveys out?

According to Survey Monkey data, Monday is the best day and Friday is the worst day. However, the difference between days was relatively minor. Really, there is no best day to send out a customer survey. They should be sent out based on other criteria (recent interactions, purchases, behaviors, etc.)

What if I want more closed-ended/open-ended questions?

The number of questions and type of questions are business-specific. If you feel like you need more open-ended questions, put in more open-ended questions. It's crucial that your survey tells you what you need to know. These are guidelines, not rules.

How do I measure my survey responses?

There are a ton of different ways that businesses measure their responses. Some plug the numbers into their CRM or other software in their tech stack.

Survey Tips

Quick survey tips

Finally, we'll end this post with a few quick-burst tips.

1. Include a "Thank You!" page after the survey.

2. Consider a gift. Making surveys "worth" the customers time is a surefire way to increase your respondent rates. This could be something as simple as a discount.

3. Double-check your questions for typos.

4. Don't change the rating scale halfway through. If you're using a rating scale, keep it consistent. Don't switch up 1 meaning "great!" and 1 meaning "unsatisfactory!" halfway through the survey.

5. Stay on brand! Make sure that your survey copy is on-brand. Keep your language, graphics, and design brand friendly.

6. Make sure it's mobile friendly!

7. Send the survey again! If respondents don't answer the survey the first time, feel free to send it again.

If you're looking for a better email solution that gives you the flexibility, control, and automation that you need, contact us.