How to Create the Perfect Customer Survey

Three ingredients to create the perfect customer survey and improve customer service and overall experience.


Sara Staffaroni

December 17, 2018

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Customer service and customer feedback go hand in hand: to provide the best service possible, you need insight from your customers. This means using the right customer surveys, in the right places, at the right times.

And while it might be tempting to rely on your intuition when it comes to creating and placing surveys, at GetFeedback we advise against it—there’s an actual order to the madness. The process of developing a customer survey is similar to that of baking a cake: which things you add, where you add them, and when you add them, matters. If you try the “freestyle baking” approach you’ll most likely be disappointed with the result (I would know given my many failed baking attempts).

If you’re reading this and thinking, thanks Sara for making me feel more nervous about creating a good survey, I have some good news for you: At GetFeedback we’ve got years of experience (with many trials and errors) in developing the perfect customer survey. And today I’m sharing with you our secret recipe:

  1. Design an engaging and “on brand” experience

  2. Align questions with your business goals

  3. Place the survey in the right customer journey milestones

Now let’s dive into each ingredient.

1. Design your customer survey the right way

It’s common sense: a well-designed survey will yield a higher survey completion rate. For instance—not to toot our own horn—hearing aid company Eargo saw a 20% increase in survey completion rate when they switched their survey creation to GetFeedback.

The following is what you need to consider to create a well-designed survey.

Stick to 5 questions or less

With targeted questions, less is more. Some of the most effective surveys are only two questions: the first asking users to rate a statement (i.e. 1-10), and the second question asking to explain the reason for their rating in a short, open-ended answer.

Include at least one quantitative question

If you’re collecting feedback with a survey that only has qualitative questions, it will be difficult to sort through and identify useful trends. Some quantitative questions to consider: a 1-10 rating, a Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree scale and an Extremely Satisfied to a Not Satisfied scale. By including at least one quantitative question, you’ll have a metric to organize, filter, and compare qualitative responses by.

Keep it short and sweet

The more concise you can be, the better. You’ll get more accurate responses, more satisfied survey respondents, and more usable data.

Give balanced answers

When asking quantitative questions, think symmetrically. For instance, Extremely Satisfied, Very Satisfied, Neutral, Somewhat Satisfied, and Not Satisfied is a symmetrical scale of possible answers customers could choose from.

Use unbiased language

Keep language unbiased for more viable data and more satisfied survey respondents. There’s a reason a good Net Promoter Score® (NPS®) question is more along the lines of, “How likely would you be to recommend us to a family or friend?” and less like “How likely are you to tell a family member or friend about how amazing we are?”

Make it beautiful and on brand

Your survey should include your brand’s colors and imagery. You can use a background image that speaks to your brand without detracting from the survey. You can also plug images into certain survey questions, such as the image of a recently purchased item. If this is done right, your survey will be highly engaging.

Make it readable

Check the contrast level to make sure it’s easy for survey respondents to read your survey. It’s become increasingly fashionable in web design to include very thin fonts with low contrast coloring compared to the background. The last thing you want to do is frustrate a customer who is volunteering their time to give you feedback because they can’t read your survey!

Make it mobile-friendly

With Google switching to mobile-first indexing, it’s no surprise that more and more surveys are being completed on mobile. Create and test the mobile version of your survey, checking for readability, tap target sizes, and general functionality.

2. Align your customer survey to business goals

Before choosing the type of survey for a certain place in your customer’s journey, ask yourself, What kind of feedback am I looking for from my customers?

Case in point: decreasing customer churn

For instance, if you want to decrease customer churn, your best options are the Customer Effort Score (CES) survey and the Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey.

The CES survey asks, “Did we make it easy for you to resolve your issue today?” In doing so, it reveals the underlying factors that impact your customers’ satisfaction. With it, you can identify what’s making things easy for customers and where they’ve run into difficulties.

It’s important to remember that because CES focuses on customer effort, it only works in certain contexts, such as after a support chat, call, or accessing online help resources. Check out the sample CES survey below.

To contrast, the NPS survey has more options for placement since it’s less situation-dependent than the CES survey. The NPS survey gauges customer loyalty by asking, “How likely are you to recommend us?” An NPS survey can be applied to many stages of the customer journey, such as before or after a purchase, sign-up, or relationship milestones down the road. See the sample NPS survey below.

Of course, there are many other customer survey types to choose from. The survey you choose will be based on your business goal(s). Once you’ve determined the right survey for your goal, it’s time to determine where it fits in your customer journey.

3. Place your customer survey within the customer journey map

When thinking about placement, you want to make sure surveys are in the right context for your customers. You also want to make sure you don’t have redundancy or too many surveys. The customer journey map makes finding where to strategically place surveys much easier than an ad-hoc approach.

Find the most strategic places for customer surveys

Creating a customer journey map is the best solution for identifying optimal customer survey placement. Because all of your potential options are laid out in front of you—and from the customer’s perspective—you’ll have a bird’s eye view, and will be able to find the most strategic placement for your surveys.

Uncover the weak links in your customer journey and fix them

A weakness that plagues many businesses is the customer hand-off from one department to another. A customer journey map can help you determine if your customers are being affected by disjointed departments, or if they’re experiencing the seamless customer experience that they expect. By viewing your business from the customer’s point of view, you can make internal integrations that positively affect both your customers and your teams.

Your customer journey map can also help you improve the performance of specific departments. For instance, if you think there’s room for improvement in the sales department, a win-loss survey after a sales interaction can help you gather customer feedback on what went right and what went wrong during the sales process. This feedback can help you improve that specific area in your business.

Using your customer journey map as a tool for continuous improvement

Each stage of the customer journey map includes qualitative information (what they are thinking, asking, and feeling at this stage) as well as quantitative information (percent of customers dropping off, key business metrics).

By strategically adding surveys to the customer journey, you can make it more and more difficult to prospects and customers to leave it. Collecting customer feedback gives you the data you need to improve your customer service at each stage of the customer journey. Once you’ve used your insights to improve your business, you can update your customer journey map to reflect this new reality, and repeat the process.

For more on this topic, check out our free guide on how to create your own customer journey map.

Learn how GetFeedback can help you create the best customer surveys—start your free trial today.

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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.