Tips for Building a Better Customer Survey

by Kathryn Hawkins

2 min read

Do you know how happy your customers are with your products or services? What could you do better? What changes should you make to grow your audience base? There’s one simple way to find out: Just ask.

Creating a customer survey is a valuable way to gain important insights on who your customers are and how you can improve both your product or service offerings and your marketing strategies. Here are some tips on building a survey campaign that gets the data you need to boost your business.

Provide an incentive. Very few customers will take the time to fill out a survey form without the promise of a reward. In exchange for filling out the survey, offer customers an incentive like a discount on their next purchase or a raffle entry for a high-value product.

Pay attention to timing. You’ll want to customize the timing of your surveys depending on the type of business you operate. For the most truthful and trustworthy responses, you’ll want your customers to respond immediately after using your services or products. If you own a landscaping business, ask your clients to fill out a survey form at the end of the fall season; if you own a restaurant, hand out comment cards at the end of the meal along with the bill. If you provide an ongoing service, like bookkeeping, choose one or two times of the year to distribute surveys to all of your clients.

Ask questions that require real answers. When you ask customers to use a one-to-five scale to rate your products or services, it’s impossible to gauge why they gave the ratings they did. Instead of using a numeric scale, focus on creating open-ended questions, such as, “What did you enjoy about your customer service experience, and what would you like us to improve?” If you’re using paper survey forms, leave at least four or five lines between questions, so that your customers have enough space to adequately explain their answers. If it makes sense for your customer base, however, send an online survey (using a tool like SurveyMonkey) instead: Customers will be able to write as much as they want, and you’ll be able to easily analyze the data you’ve collected without worrying about deciphering illegible handwriting.

Make use of the data you’ve collected. It’s nice to learn more about your customers’ opinions and attitudes, but surveys will only improve your business if you use the results to make notable changes. If a customer complained about appalling customer service, call him immediately to apologize and offer a refund if he left his contact details. If not, focus on monitoring your customer service staff and watching for similar incidents or survey answers. If a survey answer seems to indicate a larger problem, make the necessary changes in staffing or policy to prevent future issues.

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