This is a guest post from Adam Enfroy.
The average four-year-old child asks 300 questions a day. Their minds are constantly churning: They just have to know everything right this minute.
Developmentally, 300 questions a day is normal. At that age, kids are learning so much about the world around them, and they’re starting to understand more complex ideas.
For caregivers, however, all those questions get tiresome.
But questions are also powerful. If you’re a brand, asking your customers questions may be the only way you have to find out whether you’re meeting their needs, whether your product is working as expected, and whether customers trust you.
But you also don’t want to end up annoying your customers either.
Read on to learn more about the purpose of surveys, where you can find the right questions to ask, and how to get the info you need (without resorting to 300 questions).
But do we really need questionnaires?
Couldn’t you just wait for negative feedback and address problems that way?
The problem with this approach is that customers don’t always complain. More often, they just won’t come back.
Customer satisfaction can impact whether someone recommends your product, how they feel about your company, and your bottom line. In fact, after a positive experience, 83% of customers are happy to provide referrals, according to MyRoofingPal.
High rates of customer satisfaction are strong indicators of high sales and low churn rates, and it goes without saying that there’s a huge ROI on customer experience.
Effective businesses know they need to regularly poll happy customers so they can continue to create positive experiences.
Check out how Eterneva, a company turning ashes into diamonds highlights their customer satisfaction by featuring customer testimonials from Google and Social Media.
However, Eterneva doesn’t just stop there. Instead of just highlighting text-only reviews, they further boost their social proof with multiple client testimonial videos as well for a more powerful result.
In addition to gauging customer satisfaction, polls and questionnaires can help your brand uncover pain points or bottlenecks in your sales funnel and find opportunities for new products or services.
The truth is: asking your customers questions can help increase sales, retain customers, and even attract new customers. For successful brands, it’s a no-brainer.
The challenges many businesses face, however, are figuring out which questions to ask and how to ask those questions.
Tips for building a successful questionnaire or survey
There are a few different ways to measure customer experience through surveys. Each well-known method uses different measurements, so keep that in mind.
- Net promoter score (NPS) This is one of the most popular measures of how a customer feels about your brand. It’s a quick survey that usually asks, “How likely are you to recommend X to a friend?” Customers’ answers are recorded using a Likert scale, which rates how likely they are to recommend a product or service on a scale of 1 to 10.
- Customer satisfaction (CSAT) This scale measures how happy customers are with a purchase and can be used for either products or services. A typical CSAT question might be, “How would you rate your overall satisfaction with the X you received?” Customers respond on a Likert scale indicating whether they were very satisfied or unsatisfied.
- Customer effort score (CES) This scale measures how difficult it was for a customer to complete a specific task. For example, you might ask, “How easy was it to reach a customer service representative?” CES can be useful for post-interaction polls with service or support teams.
The three methods of measurements above use specific scores: However, you can also ask more casual or open-ended questions like, “What do you like most about X product ?” or, “What could we do better for X service?”
Using a survey with a calculated score makes it easy to measure improvement: However, that might not be the purpose of your survey. So, before you decide how to build your survey, you need to determine what success looks like.
Determine your survey’s purpose.
You wouldn’t start cooking without knowing what dish you were making, and that same logic applies to creating a survey. If you don’t know what success (or failure) looks like, there’s no way to measure it.
So, before you start writing questions or choose the survey method, ask these questions.
- What type of information are we looking for? This information will inform the questions you ask, the format you select, and the language you use.
- How will the information we’re gathering be used? For example, are you looking to measure overall brand appeal or find ways to improve an existing product or service?
- What will success look like for this survey? Without knowing what success looks like, you can’t judge whether a survey is successful.
- Do we have a budget? Measure both personnel resources (like time) and monetary budget to determine if you can, for example, offer prizes.
- How long will this survey run? Some surveys many run for a short time to get very specific feedback. Or you may choose to consistently run a survey like the net promoter score to measure feedback over time.
- How will customers take this survey and how will we distribute it? Will the survey be a website popup, get delivered via your email marketing strategy, or are you using a survey software like Survey Monkey or Google forms?
Once you have these questions answered, it’s time to dive into the actual creation of your questionnaire.
Use a writing app.
When you sit down to create your questions, you might get overwhelmed by organizing and finding the right words to use.
That’s where writing apps can be extremely useful. Thanks to technology, you’re no longer stuck with plain old Word.
Remember, the language and tone of questions can impact the answers you receive, so be careful to use neutral language that doesn’t encourage inaccurate questions.
Google docs makes it easy to collaborate on survey questions, as multiple people can work from the same document, leave comments, and make changes all at once. Files are also easy to share; it just takes the click of a button.
To keep your language on point, use a tool like Grammarly, which allows you to set goals for the content and proofread your questions. It tends to catch more complex grammar mistakes that programs like Word often overlook.
For organization, consider using a writing app, such as Scriver or iA Writer, that make it easy to create templates for your questions. You can drag and drop sections to rework your questionnaire or build storyboards for multiple surveys.
Aim for quality, not quantity.
Most people aren’t super excited to fill out surveys. Don’t waste their time by writing complex questions or creating 50-word surveys. Brad Smith from Codeless suggests “focusing on subjects your customers actually care about.”
For example, you might ask, “What are your goals for the coming year? How can we help you reach those goals?” versus, “What other services could we offer?” By turning the focus back to your customer instead of your brand, you’re more likely to get useful feedback.
Be careful not to ask double-barrelled questions. For example, don’t ask, “Is this tool easy to use and useful?” That question touches on two subjects (ease of use and usefulness), but only allows one answer.
What if they find the tool useful but hard to use?
Double-barrelled questions can cause inaccurate results. Instead, break these up into two questions:
Is this tool easy to use?
Was this tool useful?
Now you get the answer to both questions and can take action if customers find your tool to be challenging to use, for example.
Look at reviews to generate question ideas and get feedback.
Not sure what questions to ask? Your customers have more actionable knowledge about your product or survey than anyone else, and you can also use that knowledge to generate ideas for your survey.
Social media comments can be a great source of questions, due high usage rates. In fact, we highly recommend taking advantage of your social traffic to get the desired intel you need.
Just ask the more than 2.62 billion people using social media accounts in 2019 (for the record, there are around 7.5 billion people in the world, so that’s a good portion of the world’s population).
But don’t just take my word for it.
Take it from Lyfe Marketing, who reports that it’s likely people are talking about your company on social. Do you know what that means?
You need to be there to listen to what they’re saying and be able to respond to comments or questions, whether you handle them personally via a streamlined social media tool or outsource to a social media manager.
Whichever option you choose, the most important thing is that your brand shows up for your audience/customers. Don’t leave them hanging—answer their questions.
Direct product feedback, review sites, app reviews, podcast reviews, and blog comments can be another great source for survey question ideas. For example, you might find from a review that some customers think your instructions aren’t clear. Is it a widespread problem you need to address? Add it to your survey and find out.
If you’re growing your Instagram account, Instagram comments are a great source of questions. For example, hair care company LUS could mine their Instagram comments and find dozens of questions that might make a good addition to their survey.
For example, one customer asks about sustainable packaging options. LUS could use a survey question to determine if non-plastic containers would be popular with their customer base.
Have you started a blog yet? You may even answer many of the questions you get in the form of a blog post or on your social media account, so you can focus your survey on broader questions.
Use the KISS acronym
Keep it simple, silly. Remember, your customer’s time is valuable to them. Don’t make your survey too long or overly complex. Make sure every question is valuable and necessary.
The truth is: you’ll get more survey answers if you ask shorter questions. However, sometimes you need more detailed information, and that’s okay.
If you truly need to create a longer, more detailed survey, let customers know how long the survey will take and consider offering a coupon or entry into a prize drawing for taking the time to provide their feedback.
5 brand questionnaire examples to inspire you
Ready to build your very own survey? Here are a few examples to inspire your next survey or questionnaire.
Skype has been around since 2003, so they’re no stranger to asking for feedback. In fact, for about as long as I can remember, they’ve asked about call quality after you finish a call.
What stands out about this survey is that it’s to the point and easy to answer. It also gives customers the option to share additional feedback, which helps customers feel heard.
This survey also addresses what’s likely one of the most important metrics in their company: call quality. By making the questions easy to answer and asking consistently, they can track issues and improvement over time.
As mentioned above, blog comments can be used as a more casual survey tool. For example, you could explain an issue, then add a CTA asking readers to drop a comment if any sections were unclear or that they’d like more information about.
Many companies are turning off comments in an effort to reduce the time needed to manage their blog, but that can result in losing a solid source of communication with your customers.
Lendio, for example, always asks a question at the end of their blog posts to encourage customers to ask their own questions about complex topics, such as the different types of business financing.
They use Akismet to reduce spam, while still keeping this line of communication open.
Unlike more formal surveys, this method can be left open all the time and doesn’t require writing a ton of questions, offering a prize, or managing a spreadsheet of answers.
Fast food giant Taco Bell is so committed to getting customer feedback that they gave their survey its own catchy name and website. Tell The Bell aims to gather feedback about the food, service, and cleanliness of Taco Bell restaurants.
The survey is quite detailed, but Taco Bell makes it worth a customer’s time by entering each participant into a drawing to win $500 cash.
They also help ensure the accuracy of their responses by requiring a code printed on every customer’s receipt. This prevents people from entering false answers just for a chance to win. It also makes it easier to track which store the customer shopped at, allowing the company to pinpoint stores that aren’t meeting expectations.
If you’re looking for feedback related to a specific product, look for a way to verify purchases, either with a code or by sending the link in a post-purchase email.
The comments section on Tell The Bell is another source of information, much like the Lendio example above.
Remember, not all surveys need to be structured. Feedback can come in many forms, and making it more convenient for customers to ask questions may provide a broader perspective.
For example, questions in an AI chatbot feature on your website might indicate if customers are having a difficult time finding information or navigating your site.
Housecall Pro, an online software company for home service companies, uses a live chat feature that pops up when visitors head to their site.
The ability to add emoticons and GIFs is a nice touch too. It keeps the conversation fun and engaging—a small detail, but it can impact the overall perception of the brand.
Live chat can also make it easier for customers to find the information they’re looking for, resulting in fewer customer support calls, so it’s a double win.
Vacation rental website Airbnb relies heavily on customer satisfaction to be successful. They don’t sell any actual products or provide direct services, so making sure customers are happy is a top priority for them.
To track customer satisfaction and brand trust, they use the net promoter score to ensure customers are happy with their rentals and Airbnb service overall. After a stay, they send out a survey email, like the one below.
There are a few things that stand out about this email. Airbnb taps into the “community” aspect of their platform, which makes customers more likely to respond because they feel invested.
It also mentions “experience a new place like a local,” which is a common refrain from travelers who want to be more than just tourists.
Adding how long the survey will take to complete would likely increase their responses but, overall, it shows they understand their customers well.
Ready to get started building your survey or questionnaire?
Successful businesses know that customer feedback is critical for long-term success. There are multiple ways to seek feedback, including casual formats like live chat and building a landing page for surveys, as well as more structured formats, such as the net promoter score.
As it turns out, you don’t have to be an annoying four-year-old to get the information you need to keep customers happy.
How do you know which survey type is right for your brand? Start by outlining your goals and then tap resources you already have to create a list of simple, targeted survey questions.
Adam Enfroy writes about how to scale your blog like a startup to 100,000 monthly readers. He launched his blog in 2019 and started generating over $20,000/month in revenue within 7 months. He wants to teach new bloggers how to do the same.