How does your customer service team address the challenges that your customers are facing? How can you reduce churn and improve retention by providing exceptional customer service?
Every customer experience team knows that these are important questions.
However, creating a customer satisfaction survey with questions that reflect the subtle nuances of customer experience while still maintaining clarity, avoiding bias, and getting enough responses that will help generate meaningful insights seems to get in the way of most customer experience teams.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to differentiate your business by delivering exceptional customer service and solving your customers’ challenges by creating an effective customer satisfaction survey.
Keep reading to learn how to uncover the challenges your customers face—and want you to solve—with effective questions for your customer satisfaction survey.
You’ll also get access to templates that can help you create a survey structure that makes it easier for your customers to provide sufficient responses that will help you generate meaningful insights.
In this article
What is a customer satisfaction survey?
It is a set of questions that you ask your new and existing customers to help you learn about their overall experience with your product or service.
In addition to sharing their experience, a customer satisfaction survey also helps you know whether your customers are getting value for their money.
Effective surveys are like a compass guiding you through unfamiliar territory which is often the opinions that your customers have about your product or service. Surveys encourage your customers to open up and share their opinions, unique perspectives, needs, and preferences.
Through the insights you derive from survey responses, you gain clarity on the decisions you need to make and align your customer service strategy to meet your customer’s needs.
But pulling this off in a single survey requires more than just picking up a premade survey template and sending it out to gather feedback.
What makes a good customer satisfaction survey?
For a customer satisfaction survey to hold up under scrutiny, it has to have these qualities:
- Backed by a clear purpose: What kind of feedback do you specifically want to collect from your customers?
Do you want to know how easy or difficult it is for customers during checkout when they’re paying for your product or service?
Do you want to know how likely they are to recommend you to their friends and colleagues? Or do you want to know how satisfied your customers are with your product or service?
- It asks the right questions: Your questions should be clear and easy to understand to help your customers provide accurate feedback. This includes using both open-ended and closed-ended questions to collect comprehensive feedback.
- Short and concise: Your survey needs to ask relevant questions. Anything outside the topic or what feels like “a good-to-know question” shouldn’t make it into your survey.
- Mobile-friendly design: Your survey needs to render properly on different devices so it becomes easier for respondents to view and answer questions without hurting their user experience.
- Timely: Why is it necessary to send out your survey right now? Does it align with a specific action they took or a brand interaction that requires them to provide feedback?
Take a look at this survey snippet from Airbnb’s survey:
- It’s backed by a clear purpose: These two questions immediately help you understand that this is an NPS survey. A scale of 1-10 and an open-ended question provides the customer with an opportunity to talk about their experience based on the score they provided.
- It’s timely and asks the right questions: Ideally, such a survey will go out as soon as a guest leaves the rental they paid for, which means the experience of their stay is still fresh on their minds.
- It has a mobile-friendly design: Not all guests will access their desktop devices to take the survey. Making sure that it renders properly on mobile devices increases the number of responses.
All effective surveys share these fundamental qualities, and they come from taking the time to understand who the target audience is, their stage on the buying journey, the objectives behind the survey, and the channels used to reach customers.
How to create a customer satisfaction survey
Here are the steps you need to follow when creating your next customer satisfaction survey:
Step 1: Clarify your objectives
Before creating your customer satisfaction survey, you need to know why you need feedback from your customers and what you intend to do with the information you collect.
Are you looking to find out what is causing customer churn? Do you want to compare yourself with your competitors and benchmark against industry data? Do you want to identify specific pain points or challenges customers are having?
Each of these objectives is valid. Pick one that will influence your customer service strategy and contribute to your overall business goals.
Secondly, the objectives you choose should be relevant. Instead of relying on what your gut tells you, run a survey based on what’s happening in the business, such as the release of new features or changes in your industry.
For example, AI is shaping how customers interact with different products and if you plan to incorporate it into your product or service, you need to know how that influences how customers use your product or service.
If your product helps your customers create AI-generated videos, wouldn’t you like to know whether those videos are effectively driving brand awareness and conversions?
Step 2: Identify the questions you need to ask
Creating an effective customer satisfaction survey means knowing the questions that you need to ask that are relevant to them on their buying journey.
There are three types of questions you can ask in your customer satisfaction survey:
- Behavioral questions: These questions seek to understand how your customers are behaving. For example, how often do they use your product or service? What features do they use often? What problems do they use your product to solve?
- Attitudinal questions: These questions seek to understand how your customers feel and think about your product or service. Are they satisfied with the product or service they paid for? How was their purchase and onboarding experience? For example, “On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your experience with our product/service?”
- Classification questions: These questions help your customers identify themselves based on their demographic information and they’re useful in understanding the context of their responses. For example: “What industry are you in?” “What best describes your role?” “What’s the size of your company?”
Step 3: Structure your survey
We started off by helping you identify your objective and we’ve talked about the different types of questions you need to ask in your survey.
Now, let’s structure your survey.
Your survey should start by asking for facts before asking for opinions.
Start with screening questions: Screening questions ease in your customer into the survey. They’re easy to answer and effective at bringing down any resistance your customers might have had towards answering your survey questions.
Your screening questions might also involve asking about their demographic information, helping them self-select from the options that resonate with them.
In cases where you provide more than one service, use multiple-choice questions to screen your customer. They allow your customer to choose the service they use and answer questions that are related to it.
Based on the answers you get from your screening questions, you can add conditional logic using Woorise to ask a relevant question that aligns with the answer that your customers provide.
Ask for opinions: Here, you go deeper by looking for specific information from your customers. When asking for opinions, use different question formats such as closed-ended questions, open-ended questions, and Likert Scales to get the information you need.
Closed-ended questions don’t provide a lot of room for your customers to share information other than what you’ve asked for and the options you’ve provided.
However, if you want more information, add an “other” option in your survey so that customers don’t feel restricted by the options you’ve provided:
On the other hand, open-ended questions allow your customers to freely express themselves by sharing their concerns, motivations, desires, and pain points.
5 Customer satisfaction survey best practices
Before we dive into best practices, let’s look at an example of a customer satisfaction survey that lives up to what we’ve been talking about.
This survey by Agility CMS went out after they held a training session for their customers on how their new user interface, Plenum, works:
As we mentioned, your questions will vary based on the feedback you’re looking for. For example, you might want to measure the impact of recent changes and know whether the changes and improvements you make have had a positive or negative effect on customer satisfaction levels.
That’s exactly what Agility CMS does here:
On the surface, these questions seem like the typical questions you’d receive via email asking you about your level of satisfaction with a new feature.
Despite face-value similarities that you may encounter when dealing with similar surveys, this kind of survey is likely to receive better responses.
It pays attention to the experience that a new content manager has had with the new user interface, starting them off with simple screening questions such as their name and email address. It then proceeds with Likert Scale questions before asking about their opinions as an open-ended question.
The choice of questions and structure of this survey accomplishes several things:
- It primes the content manager to answer other questions down the line by narrowing down to their interactions with the new feature, making it easier to get in-depth feedback in the open-ended section.
- It’s short and the customer will be done in a few minutes, because they’ve been using the new UI, then they must have formed an opinion or two about it.
- It strikes the right balance between being simple and capturing relevant details. Content managers already using the tool have some working knowledge of the technical aspects of headless content management tools. In this case, using overly simplified questions might lead to incomplete or superficial responses.
- The order of questions in this survey also eliminates order bias, as it starts with broad questions and then narrows down to specific questions later. This allows customers to share their thoughts, attitudes, and opinions about the feature and what Agility CMS needs to focus on when improving the new user interface.
Now that you’ve seen a survey in action, here are the best practices to follow when creating your customer satisfaction survey:
1. Make a case for your survey
Depending on the channel you use to distribute your survey, your customer needs to understand why they need to take that survey. Ideally, you’re answering the questions “Why now?” and “What’s in it for me?”
Open your survey with clear instructions, explaining why they need to take the survey and how long it will take, as well as reassure them that you will protect the information they provide. Here’s an example:
2. Use simple language
Even though your customer might be well-versed with different technical terms, overusing them might alienate other customers who don’t have the same level of competence. Avoid jargon in your questions.
On the same note, keep an eye on word choice. The words and phrases that you choose express the meaning and intent of the question to your customers, and they’re critical in making sure that they respond in a uniform manner.
Some words might be offensive while others might cause an emotional reaction that will alter the responses you get.
For example, words such as ever, always, and never are absolutes, and might give you skewed responses because your customers feel like they have to choose a definitive side.
3. Keep your survey short
Your survey requires your customer to stop what they’re doing to respond to it. Respect their time by keeping it short and easy to fill in.
Including 3-5 open-ended questions that require them to think will lead to low response rates or inadequate responses.
If you want to know more about your customers, distribute your survey across several touchpoints, making it easier to get the information that you need instead of sending out one long survey on one single platform.
This might require you to align your survey with your customer buying journey. For example, immediately after purchase or onboarding, send out a survey while the experience is still fresh and you’re likely to get more accurate insights.
Additionally, include a progress bar on your survey to help your customers monitor their progress. When the finish line is clear and “gamified,” they’re more likely to push themselves to cross it.
4. Collaborate with your colleagues
Creating your customer satisfaction survey should be a collaborative process. Working with your team improves the quality of your surveys as you collect different opinions and perspectives on the topics to focus on, as well as how to structure, design, and distribute your surveys.
Besides, once the survey is ready, you’ll want to send it out to the team first to collect feedback on the quality of the questions you chose and the amount of time it takes to fill out.
5. Avoid bias
Bias in surveys creeps in when one question affects how your customer will respond to the next.
For example, suggestive questions assume what the customer thinks, leaving no room for contrary opinions.
Suggestive question: Do you agree that Woorise is the best tool for running contests and giveaways?
An alternative to this question might be: What is your experience using Woorise when running contests and giveaways?
Bias might also be present in the question itself, where all options are confusing and your customer is spoilt for choice.
For example, when asking closed-ended questions that have a list of options, the options you include should not overlap with one another as this causes confusion. Make them mutually exclusive.
The quality of service you deliver and how you’re able to differentiate yourself from your competitors depends on the quality of feedback you collect from your customers and how well you implement it.
To create an effective customer satisfaction survey, you must first identify your objective amd pick the right survey tools. Choose relevant questions and structure your survey to help you collect feedback. Implement the insights you gather to help you achieve your business objectives.
Most importantly, test your survey and improve based on the feedback you get from your team to help you make it more effective.
To get started with your next customer satisfaction survey, sign up for Woorise’s free trial and use any of the free survey templates to create your survey.