8 Customer Experience Survey Best Practices to Keep in Mind

June 4, 2018

Customer Experience Surveys Are Critical to Business Success

In previous articles, we’ve covered why customer service and customer experience are important, and we even made some predictions about this year’s customer experience trends.

But building truly effective customer experience surveys can be tricky. 

There’s a constant tug-of-war between trying to gather feedback, and trying to respect your customers by not bombarding them with surveys. You want to get as much information from your customers as possible, in as few questions as possible. 

These challenges are why it’s always a good idea to keep the following eight best practices in mind while building and distributing customer experience surveys.

8 Customer Experience Survey Best Practices 

1. Clearly word your questions.

Since your goal is to get as much information from your customers as possible, in as few of questions as possible, it’s essential to make the most out of each and every question that is presented to respondents.

There’s nothing worse than including questions in your survey that people have a hard time understanding. If respondents can’t figure out exactly what you’re asking, then they will most likely stop taking your survey. 

2. Know when and when not to use open-ended questions.

Knowing when to use open-ended questions is important, as these should be used sparingly.

While lots of great insight can be derived from open-ended responses provided by your customers, open-ended questions require more time to complete than other question types such as multiple choice or drop downs. And time is always a big factor to consider when thinking of optimizing the survey experience for respondents. 

If you consistently send lengthy surveys comprised of open-ended questions to your customers, it can be expected that they will fall victim to survey fatigue. 

3. Avoid questions that yield difficult to interpret, subjective responses.

The whole point of distributing customer experience surveys is to receive detailed feedback from your respondents. Therefore, if your survey questions yield responses that are difficult to interpret, all of your effort has has gone to waste.

A classic example of a question that relies too heavily on subjective responses is “What are your chances of returning to our restaurant this year, in terms of a percentage?”

While the question aims to measure customer loyalty, it relies too heavily on personal estimates being made by the customer, and therefore will yield difficult to interpret results.

4. Consider your respondents’ experience while determining question order.

Question order matters. While ordering your questions, it’s best to consider how the questions flow from one to the next. A well structured survey has ordered the question set in a specific way to yield a high volume of complete responses. 

Some tips for ordering your question set:

  • Put higher level questions that get respondents familiar with the survey taking process at the beginning of your survey

  • Slowly ramp up to the questions that address more complex or granular topics

  • Do a dry run of the survey experience, specifically to judge the question flow before distribution 

5. Respond to negative feedback as soon as possible.

If a customer provides overtly negative feedback in regard to their experience with your brand, it’s imperative to respond to that person directly and as soon as you can.

It’s best to reply to the customer via a personal phone call or email. This lets the customer know that you truly care about them and their experience.

Following-up with a small gift or handwritten note is best when it’s just that — a follow-up from personal outreach. Sending a gift or note does take time, and if used on its own could be interpreted as not actually acting on the feedback that was provided, or that you are trying to sweep negative feedback under the rug. 

Timing is everything. When you first get your customer experience survey responses, sift through them for the significantly negative customers, and reach out to them directly.

6. Thank the customers that provide delightful feedback.

If customers provide feedback that their experience with your brand was delightful, then thank them for their business!

We’ve explained why handwritten notes are not ideal for responding to negative feedback, but they are a great way to reply to positive feedback!

If a customer leaves a good review of your company, and they receive a nice handwritten note or gift, they may just turn from a brand loyalist to a brand evangelist.

7. Develop a Board of Customers program, or something similar.

If you have a group of people that have been using your product or services for an extended period of time, and you feel that they have intimate knowledge of your business from the customer perspective, then invite them to become part of a Board of Customers!

A Board of Customers is a great way to build rapport with top clients and receive their feedback in an even more personal manner.

8. Make sure that personal questions are marked as optional.

Asking personally intimate questions about things like your customers’ gender, age, or income must be done so delicately. Because some people might not be comfortable sharing these types of information, it’s essential to keep these survey questions optional. 

If you fail to do so, the people that are uncomfortable will stop taking your survey then and there, which will have a significantly negative impact on your response data.


You now have a list of best practices to keep in mind while building your next customer experience survey

Do you have anything that you believe should be added to this list of best practices? If so, we’d love to hear from you! Drop us a line in the comments below.

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