The way you build a customer survey and the questions you ask determine whether you will get the information you need to improve your service and grow your business. Here are some general guidelines to follow:
- Know exactly what you want to find out.
- Keep the survey short. Eliminate any question that does not directly meet a goal.
- Test your questions to be sure they are absolutely clear.
- Keep questions short. Use short words. Then make the questions shorter.
- Test each question on a few people outside of your business to be sure it is clear.
- Have several people try the survey to see how long it takes. Include that time in your request. Example: “Please help by taking this two-minute survey.”
Types of Questions
The Structured Question
A structured question limits options for answers. Types of questions include multiple choice, yes/no and ratings. When to use the structured question:
- You know exactly what you are looking for. Example: Did your technician arrive on time?
- You want an average score. Example: You want to track a change in overall customer satisfaction.
- You will take action based on a single response. Example: An employee gets a bonus for a score of 5 on a section of the survey.
Test your structured questions to be sure they are clear and the answer options cover most situations.
The Unstructured (Open-Ended) Question
An unstructured or open-ended questions lets the customer fill in any answer. An open-ended question that provides some direction will usually get better results than just “Comments.” Example: “Would you recommend us to a friend and why or why not?” When to use an open-ended question:
- You want to leave the question open for any complaint, compliment or suggestion.
- You don’t have time to develop structured questions.
- You want to keep it simple for your customer.
- This is a catch-all question at the end of the survey.
Test an unstructured question to be sure it is clear and the results will address one of your goals.
Delivering Your Survey
This responsibility should be assigned to one employee. Occasionally you may want to make a few calls yourself, just to keep your finger on the pulse of your customer base.
See Do You Know What Your Customers Really Want? for tips on email and telephone surveys.
Deliver the survey one or two days after the service is provided. The experience will be fresh and the customer will have had time to observe the results of the job. Whether you are following up by email or phone, begin by explaining the reason for the call/email and how long the survey will take.
And of course, always include a thank you to your customer for helping you out. If you want to boost participation, you can offer an incentive for completing the survey.