5 Steps to Design Customer Surveys for Insightful Feedback

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Online surveys have become an efficient way of collecting information from customers. They can include customer feedback about products and services, or just demographic information. However, not every survey delivers great results.

Many are too vague or created with unclear expectations.

To avoid wasting time on surveys that won't bring you the results you need, your survey must have a precisely defined purpose, and your questions need to be designed to encourage customers to complete them.

That's easier said than done, which is why I'm going to show you five steps to design insightful surveys for customer feedback. Ready?

1. Determine your survey goals.

Surveys made for customer feedback collection can have different purposes. That’s why it’s essential to define what information you want to collect and why you need it.

So how do you home in on the purpose of your survey?

Ask yourself (or your team) critical questions like:

  • What are the questions you need the answers to?
  • Who will be the ideal respondents?
  • What type of data do you want to filter and analyze?

You don’t have to limit your survey to a single goal, but make sure not to overwhelm the respondents. For instance, if your main goal is getting feedback on your product, it's okay to ask how their customer support experience has been, too.

If you realize that you need more room for additional topics, it's better create separate surveys. One of your priorities should be to keep the survey as simple as possible so more people complete it, and so the answers they give are more helpful. More on that next.

2. Make it easy to complete.

Respondents have pretty limited patience for filling out surveys. So, if your survey seems complicated or takes too long to complete, they’ll probably skip it.

But what's considered a simple survey?

Netflix has a good example:

PC: The Cord Cutter Life

They designed a simple questionnaire with multiple questions per page. Even though it's a longer survey, questions are grouped together simply to help respondents focus on the topic and complete it quickly.

Try another example from Skype:

PC: BlogSpot

Skype asks several questions within a single window, reducing the number of separate windows popping out. They get several data points for the same question - a star rating, two types of issues, and open feedback.

This survey is also more engaging because there are different types of questions on the same page. (You don't want to do that if you'll still have, say, five pages or more, but it's a good option to use sparingly to keep respondents alert.)

A couple tips for creating easy surveys:

When you create a survey, make sure to choose a good survey maker that will let you organize the questions in a way that works best for you and your goal.

Also, try to create surveys that take less than 5 minutes to complete, and that have fewer than 15 questions, to avoid customers giving up due to survey fatigue.

3. Make your survey provide real value.

If you aren't careful, it's easy to create survey questions that lead respondents to give unhelpful answers. You want to avoid this, because those questions will not bring you real value.

Survey Checklist

Here's an example of a bad question about a new textbook being launched:

“How useful will casual readers and professionals find this book to be?”

This is a double-barreled question, meaning it's a question that actually addresses two separate issues - how useful casual readers will find the book, and how useful professionals will find it. To get helpful answers, you need to split the question into two.

"How useful will a casual reader find this book?"

"How useful will an industry professional find this book?"

Next, as you create questions, give respondents room to develop and share their own independent thoughts. It's okay if they say negative things about your brand. Surveys can only help you improve the way you do business if they are based on honest feedback.

4. Test the survey before launching it.

To avoid unnecessary costs and frustrations, make sure you test the survey within a controlled audience before you launch it. The easiest way to check if the survey will provide the kind of data you want is to test it within the company.

Reach out to staff members that didn’t participate in the survey creation and ask them to complete it. They'll help you realize:

  • If your questions are easy to understand
  • If there are questions that can be eliminated
  • If there is a need for additional instructions or explanations
  • If your survey is too demanding of time or concentration

Another great testing strategy is to offer the test group different versions of the same survey, to check which one of them provides the most useful feedback.

5. Choose the most effective way of sharing your survey.

If customers are regularly coming to your site (or a particular page of it), the easiest way to get engagement may be to embed your survey on your site, and set it to automatically pop up when customers reach that page.

Otherwise, to reach your target respondents, you have to know their preferred form of communication. If you aren't sure, you may want to test survey platforms, email surveys, and SMS messages (or maybe all three).

After you test this with one or two surveys, you can stick to the most effective channel to keep things simple.

Related: How to Get More 5-Star Online Reviews for Your Business

How to Transform Your Business with Insightful Surveys

While a poorly designed survey will only waste your time and money, a well-developed one can give you a great chance to improve your business. It can also help you identify insights for future changes and considerations.

Remember to keep your survey short and to create an appealing design, so that respondents stay engaged with it. A truly useful survey is the one that doesn’t only provide value for your business but also makes customers feel comfortable answering questions.

As you roll these survey methods out through your company, you will gather unique data that will help you transform your business for the better!

Related: How to Get More Responses from Your Outbound Communications