4 Keys to an Effective Customer Survey

If your customer survey is just so-so, you might be missing out on meaningful insights. Here are 4 foolproof ways to harness the power of smarter surveys.


Jana Barrett

July 21, 2018

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Want to learn more about your customers’ needs and preferences? A customer survey can reveal countless ways to improve your business. But too often, businesses miss out on insights because they’re sending so-so surveys. Here are 4 foolproof ways to unlock powerful customer feedback through smarter surveys.

1. Pick the right customer survey metric

What are you trying to achieve with your customer survey? Are you looking for at-risk customers who need extra help? Do you want to monitor service quality? Hone in on your primary goal. From there, you can select the metric that makes the most sense for your needs. Here are a few customer experience metrics to consider.

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Score

Good for measuring key customer touchpoints and interactions.

You’re probably familiar with this widely used rating question. The Customer Satisfaction Score measures specific aspects of the overall customer experience. For example, you might ask customers to rate a product they purchased or support they received. Customers are given a range of options (Very Dissatisfied to Very Satisfied), which produces a nice, simple metric that you can track over time.

Learn more about measuring customer satisfaction

Net Promoter Score® (NPS®)

Good for measuring brand perception and sentiment

Net Promoter Score focuses more on the general sentiment customer has toward your brand by asking, “How likely are you to recommend us to your family or friends?” The score a customer selects places them in one of three distinct categories: Promoter (9-10), Passive (7-8), or Detractor (0-6). These distinctions help companies segment and prioritize customer needs, so they can win back at-risk customers and turn happy buyers into brand advocates.

Learn more about measuring Net Promoter Score

Customer Effort Score (CES)

Good for measuring the overall support experience

The easier it is to find answers, the happier your customers will be. That’s the basis of the Customer Effort Score, which quantifies the energy customers have to expend in order to get issues resolved. If your customers seek support through a number of channels (email, live chat, knowledge base, etc.) then it’s smart to ask this question. Though support teams typically own this metric, you can use it creatively across your business.

Learn more about measuring Customer Effort Score

2. Include an open-ended question

A score alone can only tell you so much. In order to translate metrics into meaningful action, you might need a bit more information from your customers. Following up with an open-ended question gives customers the chance to expand. And that’s often where the most valuable feedback comes from. Using survey logic, you can present respondents with different follow-up questions based on the score they give you. Here are some examples.

For positive scores:

  • “What is the best part about ____?”

  • “How can we make your experience even better?”

  • “What did you like most?”

For neutral scores:

  • “Why did you choose that score?”

  • “What could we do better?”

  • “Anything you’d like to add?”

For negative scores:

  • “What could we do better?”

  • “How can we improve your experience?”

  • “What did you dislike the most?”

3. Keep it short and sweet

If you’re planning to build an effective survey, you have to take design into consideration. When you don’t pay attention to the survey taker’s experience, it damages their perception of your brand. Here are some tips on improving the customer survey experience.

Stick to the essential questions

No one wants to spend 20 minutes filling out a survey they’re not incentivized to complete. Aim for 2-5 questions maximum. Each additional question you ask will lower your survey response rate and undermine your data. If you’re struggling, it often helps to make a list of all the questions you want to ask, then cross anything off that doesn’t directly support your end goal.

Be clear and concise

When writing survey questions and answers, keep your language simple, avoid complex sentence structure, and get to the point fast. Customers don’t want to spend time decoding confusing questions—they’ll either answer inaccurately or bail entirely. So, don’t make them think twice.

Ask one question at a time

Presenting customers with 15 cramped questions on a single page is a sure way to overwhelm them. That’s why GetFeedback surveys ask one question per page. It makes for a cleaner, stress-free survey experience, which leads to higher-quality feedback.

Reduce the clutter

Images can be a great way to enhance your survey, but it only makes sense if the images is integral to the question you are asking. Remember, most of your customers will be taking your survey on a mobile device. Use the screen space you have wisely and only incorporate essential information.

4. Personalize the survey experience

Did you know that 79% of consumers expect a more personalized experience with brands? This includes a personalized customer experience, messaging, and even surveys. When you use a survey provider, here are some ways you can personalize your customer survey.

Use survey logic to increase relevancy

Survey logic is the best way to cut down on irrelevant questions. You can present survey takers with different questions and answers based on their previous responses. For example, if a customer says they’re “dissatisfied” in Question 1, you can use logic to ask a personalized follow-up question.

Make the most of merge fields

Merge fields are unique codes that pull specific information from one source and feed it into another. For example, if you integrate GetFeedback with Salesforce, you can use merge fields to pull relevant info from the customer record into your survey questions. This allows you to include the customer’s name, case information, contact info, preferences, and more. Plus, you can use merge fields to attribute survey responses to specific people and keep your customer information accurate.


As you build your next customer survey, think about how you can make the experience better for your customers. Their feedback is one of the most vital pieces of data at your disposal. It helps you get to know them better and spot new opportunities to improve the customer experience. So spending a few extra minutes improving your survey design or reducing clutter can make a major impact in the long run.

I hope these tips help you hit gold more often. If you have anything to add, let us know in the comments!

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*Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.