Nine Best-practice Tips for Customer Surveys

I don’t dine out often but, recently, I had such a great experience at a local eatery that I wanted to tell the manager about it. When I asked him why his restaurant didn’t include a feedback form with the receipt like many others do, he replied, “Usually we only get feedback when people want to complain, so we stopped.”

Our conversation made me think about how other companies may be missing the opportunity to gauge real-time responses from their customers. Are you hurting your business by avoiding or even ignoring customer feedback?

A recent study confirmed that many consumers tie brand loyalty to responsiveness on customer feedback. The results showed that 85 percent of the respondents had provided some form of feedback to big box retailers, yet only 46 percent believed that brands actually use this feedback to make constructive changes.

So, how can you find out how your customers feel about your brand? A survey is the obvious choice and here are nine best-practice tips:

  1. Using an online service like Survey Monkey or Poll Daddy is an easy way to collect and analyze survey data. Customers may be more likely to respond because, unlike a phone survey, they can complete the survey on their own time. Once you have created the online survey, simply share the survey via email or social media. 
  2. Keep it short and sweet, using mostly closed-ended questions. (Closed-ended questions are easier to answer and will give you easily quantifiable data.) For the best response rate, your survey should take less than five minutes to complete and avoid questions with more than 10 answer options.
  3. Write the questions from your customers’ perspective, focusing on what is important to them. For example, ask about the quality of your product or service, delivery time (if applicable), customer service (including courtesy and responsiveness of staff), and price or perceived value. To encourage candid feedback, you may want to offer the option of anonymity when designing the survey.
  4. When organizing your questions, the first question or two should be interesting and easy to answer to engage the respondent. Profile or demographic-related questions should be placed at the end. You may also want to group similar topics together and use text boxes to introduce each section of the survey.
  5. Offering an incentive -- even a nominal one -- has been shown to increase response rate. This is especially important with surveys that take more than five minutes to complete.
  6. After developing the survey, send it to a couple of trusted associates to provide feedback on the overall flow and check how long it takes to complete. Also, be sure to test online surveys in different Internet browsers for any technical glitches. 
  7. Promote, promote, promote! Before sending the survey, let your customers know to look out for it soon to significantly improve your response rate. Then, send a reminder or two to non-respondents after it’s sent reiterating the deadline date and incentive to reply.
  8. Share the results! Let the respondents know what you’ve learned and what actions you’ll be taking as a result. When customers feel like a part of a business, they’re more likely to remain customers!
  9. Lastly, to make sure you constantly have your finger on the pulse of your business, continue to conduct surveys, at least, annually – more often if time and budget permit. You may also want to craft separate surveys to potential customers, or even to lost customers, to gain greater perspective.

More often than not, your customers have stories to tell about their experiences. Listening is just the first step. Treat customer feedback as the most valuable form of constructive criticism. For help with customer surveys or other market research, contact Malouin Marketing for a free consultation.


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Malouin Marketing
2110 Artesia Blvd., #356
Redondo Beach, CA 90278
(310) 880-7890

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