How to create good survey questions

Surveys
If you make an effort to remedy customers' complaints, 82 to 95 percent of them will stay with you.

How to create good survey questions

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By Lisa Kobek, EVP of Client Services and Operations at CustomerCount

It’s time to get serious when it comes to customer surveys. If you want meaningful and actionable survey data, then creating good survey questions is a craft you need to master. After all, a survey is only as good as the questions you ask.

Poorly asked questions will not only give you answers you can’t use, but completion rates will be low and the drop out rate will be high. And for the long-term health of your business, the customer experience will be negative with a direct effect on your brand’s reputation.

Indeed, survey question development is important that Erika Hall, author of Just Enough Research, explains: “If you write bad survey questions, you get bad data at scale with no chance of recovery”.

So now you know it’s worth spending some time developing your questions, we asked Lisa Kobek from CustomerCount® for her top tips for writing good survey questions.

Ensuring you set yourself up for collecting valuable data is a combination of crafting an appropriate question and corresponding response options.

These can help you:

  1. Optimize your opportunity to capture valuable, actionable, germane data
  2. Optimize customer perception of you through the questions and response options you present.  A poorly crafted question works against you.  Focus on questions that make sense to the customer and are meaningful from their perspective as well.
How to write good survey questions
A survey is only as good as the questions you ask

How to create customer survey questions?

1 Define the objective

Understand and define the data you want before crafting the question.  Know what you want to know before you start.  What’s the purpose and how will it help your operations and bottom line?

2 Make it actionable

Avoid asking a question that will elicit a non-actionable response.  If you can’t act on what the respondent is telling you, the information is not useful or valuable.  And as importantly if you’re not willing to act on the response, don’t ask the question.  Can you and are you willing to do something with the responses that will positively impact customer engagement, loyalty and the bottom line? 

3 One thing at a time

Don’t ask about more than one thing in the same question.  While tempting in order to keep the survey succinct, it doesn’t pay off. 

For example: don’t ask the customer to rate a customer service representative’s responsiveness and level of knowledge in the same question. 

When the customer rates the performance he may have been thinking about only one of the two attributes in this example.  Or worse yet the customer doesn’t understand how to answer the question given it’s asking about two things – risks bad impression with the customer or leads him to just skip to the next question or abandon the survey altogether.

4 Closed end

Think about how you will analyze results before you craft a question and the corresponding response option.  When possible, make your back end analysis as efficient and effective as possible. 

For example:  You may want to find out what new product features would be of most interest to your customers to help guide your product development efforts.  You could ask an open-ended question such as “what new product features would be valuable for you”? 

Verbatim comment responses take more time and effort to analyze in order to identify trends.  In contrast, if you pose the question with pre-defined response options, analysis becomes much easier. 

For example:  Of the following possible new product features, which one(s) would interest you most?  Then list the options.

Remember, there are text analytics tools available to help sort through unstructured (verbatim comments) data.  If you don’t have access to such a tool, creating closed end questions can greatly enhance your speed and effectiveness of response analysis. 

How CustomerCount can help

The survey data you receive can have a huge impact on the decisions you make as a business. The wrong questions to the wrong people could result in the wrong actions being implemented.  So don’t leave it to chance.

While there is a wealth of online survey solutions available, using the services of CustomerCount ensures that the right questions are developed for the answers you need. Our online survey system makes survey data capture quick and easy with high response rates and survey satisfaction. And the data is presented in a way that is clear, precise and understandable.

To find out more about our customer survey and feedback solutions and learn how CustomerCount can help you craft the perfect question, contact Bob Kobek on 317-816-6000 or bobkobek@customercount.com.  You can also follow them on our blog, on Twitter or Facebook.

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