I think the best teacher is experience. Or said another way by Alfred Einstein, the only source of knowledge is experience. Experience is to credit for these tips in improving your customer satisfaction survey. I hope my experience can add to your knowledge.
Never survey your customers more than once a year.
Your customer satisfaction survey should only be sent on an annual basis to each customer. There can certainly be others surveys your customers receive from your company based on onboarding or an interaction with customer service, but even those should be minimal.
So, what if you want that customer feedback on a more frequent basis, perhaps quarterly. Simply segment your customers into four segments (Q1, Q2, Q3, and Q4 for example) and then in January send your survey to your Q1 list and in April send to your Q2 list for example. Now you can get more regular data and only survey each customer once a year.
Never ask for information you have.
Receiving a customer satisfaction survey should feel like an opportunity to assess and reflect on the relationship with your company. Asking for information you already have like their name or email address damages this relationship and makes you look careless. Even surveys that want you to believe they are anonymous typically have some backend data tied to your custom survey link to know a bit about you. In todays’ world, nothing you do is anonymous.
Never ask a closed-ended question.
A closed-ended question or one that can be answered with Yes or No should never be asked. That’s lazy question writing and with a tiny more work you can get more valuable data. For example, instead of asking “Did we meet your needs during our recent customer conference?”, ask “What did you enjoy…” or even a “Please rank in order what you enjoyed most about…”.
Never send more than two survey reminder emails.
Let’s be honest, no one enjoys filling out a survey and typically those who do want to sing your praises or have an axe to grind. Often, the first reminder email can bring in as many survey responses as the initial email and the second reminder can be clear this is your last call to gather their feedback. If your survey is resulting in a poor response or even unsubscribes from your mailing list, you are getting valuable feedback – your survey sucks.
Never have your survey too locked down.
If a customer is willing to start filling out your customer satisfaction survey, they likely already have something in mind they want to share. They will likely entertain you with filling out a few of your questions that benefit you but are not what they want to share. Nothing is more frustrating that completing this survey and never having an opportunity to share that feedback. With many questions, it can be helpful to have an “Other” option where the customer can provide an open-ended response. A great catch all can be a “Is there anything else you would like to share with us” question or even an opportunity to provide their contact information for further follow up.
Even as a marketer, I have a love/hate relationship with surveys. I don’t like when they are too long, difficult to complete, or ask for information the company should already know about me. I do love a well thought out survey that is easy and quick to complete while providing actionable data.
The set of questions below I have fine-tuned over many years and have found it to be an effective way to get some valuable customer data.
Please select your customer type from the list below.
Which of the following best describes you?
I use X products
I manage those who use X products
How would you describe your overall satisfaction level compared to last year?
What does “company” do particularly well to earn your recommendation? (seen for those giving Very Satisfied rating)
What would “company” need to do to earn a better recommendation? (seen for those giving any other rating)
How likely are you to continue using our products and services?
Overall, how satisfied are you with the following “company” products?
Overall, how satisfied are you with the following “company” services?
Overall, how easy is it to do business with “company”?
Regarding your answer above, what could we do to be easier to do business with?
Please tell us the 3 most important things we can do to improve our existing products and services.
Please tell us the 3 things you liked most about our products and services.
Here is some additional insight to better understand why these questions are what they are:
Customer Type: Ideally, this is information you already have and shouldn’t be asking the customer. However, depending on how truly anonymous this survey is, the ease in having this data tied to the other survey data, and to allow the customer to segment themselves which may differ than how you perceive them, this is valuable. Knowing the type of customer is valuable for segmenting with any of your other survey questions.
User or Manager of User: Often those who use your products differ from those who purchased your products. Another valuable way to segment your survey data.
Satisfaction Rating: You could certainly replace this question with the Net Promoter Score (NPS) question or add it as well. Aside from your opinion on the value of the NPS question, I would argue it’s much easier to respond to a five-point scale Very Satisfied to Very Dissatisfied question than to figure out a 0-10 scale question.
Likely to continue using our products: A great question to see how answers differ between those who are using your products and those who are managing those who are using your products. Also, this may give your sales and support teams a heads up about customer frustration that can be addressed.
Easy to do Business: Perhaps in some way your company has the customer in a stranglehold so they will tell you they are going to continue using your products. Truly, no one wants an unhappy customer. Let’s find out if we are making their lives painful in some way and trend this data to see if the customer is noticing our improvements.
3 Things: You may be asking why I would only ask for three things we could improve or three things the customer likes about us. We originally just asked for feedback and that questions was left unanswered more often than not. By asking three things, those who want to provide more still will and those who maybe weren’t going to will see this as a more doable request. Test this for yourself and see.