How to Get More Insightful Replies from Your Customer Surveys -

How to Get More Insightful Replies from Your Customer Surveys

There aren't many things worse than putting lots of time and effort into a customer survey just to get crickets in response. And even if your customers do take your surveys, turning their responses into actionable insights for your business can be tricky. If you'd like to get more specific and valuable replies when you reach out to your customer base, these tips for writing more effective surveys will help.

Pace Yourself

Your customers will get "survey fatigue" if you ask them to answer too many questions too often, so don't send out a new survey every month. A good rule of thumb is to check in a couple of times a year. Timing is important here: you'll get the freshest, most focused replies from customers who have just interacted with your business. Ideally, each survey should hit the customer's inbox within 24 hours of making a purchase or calling customer support.

Segment Your Surveys

A repeat buyer will have different things to say about your business than someone who's just made their first purchase. Just like you segment your marketing emails, send different surveys to different parts of your email list, too.

Be Upfront About What You Want

To get people to open your survey, be honest about why you want them to take it. Tell them what you're trying to learn and how it will help your business, and give them an estimate of how long completing the survey will take. Create a sense of reciprocal effort by focusing on the fact that you want to serve your customers better.

Focus on the Customer

Everyone likes to talk about themselves, so ask customer-centric questions in your surveys. For instance, "Rate your experience with our business today" is a stronger question than just "Rate our business." In addition, people tend to make emotionally-based purchasing decisions, so word your survey questions to get to the bottom of your customers' feelings. Let them tell you why your product makes them happy or they were frustrated with their last purchase. Your customers will feel heard and cared-for, and you'll get information that helps you improve in concrete ways.

Prioritize Your Questions

Each survey you send out should contain only a handful of questions. Three is a good maximum to aim for, but two is better. Each additional question you include will whittle down your response rate, so resist the temptation to include every question that crosses your mind. Create focused surveys by pinning down what you want to learn before you actually write the questions.

Use Neutral Phrasing

Be careful not to nudge your respondents towards saying what you want to hear. There shouldn't be an obviously "correct" answer for any of your survey questions. Be as clear and neutral in your wording as possible, and encourage participants to give you their real, unfiltered thoughts. Text responses tend to provide the most insightful answers, but keep in mind that people are more likely to complete a survey with easy multiple-choice questions than they are to type a response.

Multiple choice questions are easy to answer, so you may get a better response rate. Source

With text-input questions, you avoid putting any words in the customer's mouth. Source

Protect Your Customers' Privacy

Many people are hesitant to give out information online, particularly if they haven't established trust with your business yet. Avoid asking for potentially sensitive personal information, such as a customer's income level, in your surveys (or make these questions optional). If it won't mess up your results, consider letting people answer your survey anonymously -- you may get more candid responses this way.

Offer a Trade… Maybe

You can increase your survey completion rate by offering a discount or reward to participants. However, be careful with this tactic. Sure, you'll get a greater volume of answers, but most people aren't inclined to complain about a business that's about to give them something for free, so you may miss out on useful critical responses. Use this approach when you want a lot of audience participation, and skip it when you're looking for constructive criticism.

Improve Your Business with Insights from Customers

Your customers themselves are your best source of information for how your business is doing, so listen to them! There are a lot of factors that go into a successful customer survey, but if you want replies that are truly useful, the most important thing is to ask the right questions and not too many of them. Two or three carefully-worded questions can bring you plenty of valuable information to improve your business going forward. Don't forget to let your survey participants know how much you appreciate their help!

How do you design customer surveys that yield useful responses? Tell us in the comments below!

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By Amanda Disilvestro on October 25, 2018

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