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Customer Surveys: The Dos and Don'ts

We always wants to think that we are making our customers are happy, but how do we know for certain? Customer surveys can give us valuable insights into what our customers are thinking, wanting, liking and disliking. Then, we can apply these insights to help make our products better and our relationship with our customers stronger.

So you know customer surveys can help you to improve your business. But how do you do it right? There are lots of different ideas about the right way to conduct customer surveys. We’ll go through the main dos and don’ts to help you create an optimal survey that will gather the right data in the right way.


Make sure your survey is clear and concise.

  • Establish one clear goal of your survey (for example, to find out if one kind of product you’re offering is desirable/useful for customers or if your website layout is serving your customers well) and then ask only questions that pertain to what you are trying to learn.
  • Make good use of yes/no questions. Customers will skip questions that ask for commentary. You can include them but get specific with yes or no questions and you will be more likely to get answers that can help you.
  • When using a ratings scale (say 1-10) keep the scale consistent. In other words, do not make one question with 1 being “very satisfied” and one set with 10 as “very dissatisfied.”
  • Ask one question at a time. Do not load all of your questions onto one page. It will overwhelm your customers. Instead, ask one question per web page. Once they’ve inputted their answer, they can move onto the next.
  • Do include answers that require commentary but save them until the end and include no more than five questions that ask for customers to provide an answer in their own words. 

Test your survey before making it live for your customers. 

Have friends and family members test it and give feedback; this will help you find superfluous questions, make sure the questions are not vague or use confusing, or have terms that people do not know.

Let customers know what to expect from your survey.

Many people will abandon a survey if it goes on too long. BUT if you feel strongly about having a lengthier survey, there are a few things that you can do. Let people know ahead of time how long the survey will take, include a progress bar at the top of the page so they can see how far along they are AND include a benefit for them at the end, like a discount code, gift card or a chance to win something.

Give customers something for their time, effort and information.

Providing a gift card or a chance to win a larger prize will make it more likely that more people will take your survey. Advertise these benefits when you’re publicizing your survey and you’ll get more answers, and customers that complete your survey will feel that you value their time.


Avoid making assumptions about your buyers’ knowledge.

You want to make sure that you are using terms that everyone knows. Everything you ask should be common knowledge to your customer. That means no acronyms and no jargon.

Do not use leading questions.

You want people to be honest so you need to be careful that your wording does not point them towards the answer you want.

Do not ask personal questions.

If you ask questions about age, gender, race, etc. you risk turning customers off. If you would like to collect this kind of data because it would be beneficial for your decision-making (and understanding of your customer demographic), make the questions optional, make your survey anonymous and ensure customers that their information will be kept private.

So are you ready to start developing customer surveys and excited to see the data streaming in? There are a lot of tools out there to help you get started. We recommend Survicate, eSurveys and SurveyMonkey. And we want to hear how it goes. Tweet us about your experience! 

Good Luck and Good Sales.