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Customer Satisfaction Survey Questions: The Do's and Don'ts

Make your customer satisfaction survey questions more than just "satisfactory"

Think of your competitors as crocodiles.

They’re patiently waiting for you to screw up your customer service. And the moment you do, they will pounce and devour your brand—taking your customers with them.

If you mess up your customer success, you might as well be shouting out what you did wrong to a few thousand people. Or worse, be tweeting it to millions.

When United Airlines were in the midst of a social media and news nightmare, the crocodile attacked. Emirates peeked its head out the water and struck with slick tweets and promotions for the world to see.

So, how do you avoid being crocodiled?

You have to be on top of your customer service—always. But to start improving, you need to know where to begin.

Send out a customer satisfaction survey to see where you stand with your clients. Turn detractors into your biggest fans by showing them that you can do better—but don’t forget to reward your brand’s fan club too.

Okay, not everyone is going to become a promoter for your brand. But at least by opening a conversation, you’re doing everything you possibly can.

How to write customer satisfaction survey questions that people want to complete

DO: Let people skip questions

Sometimes people just don’t know—and that’s absolutely fine. How can Katy answer the question “how did our store smell today?”, when she was completely blocked up with a cold and only dashed in for some lemon and honey?

When people are presented with questions they don’t know the answer to, they usually desert the survey completely. We’ve all done it.

Avoid this by letting people skip a question if they don’t want to fill it in, or by adding a simple “I don’t know” response. Your customer satisfaction survey isn’t a test.

Be the Bear Grylls of customer service

Didn’t really think I’d be writing about Bear Grylls in a post about customer satisfaction survey questions, but hear me out—there’s a lot to be learned from him:

•  Stays cool in every situation and thinks things through

• Courageous, confident, and loved by all. You love him too right?

• Bear knows how to deal with crocodiles—and the rest

So, how can you become the Bear Grylls of customer satisfaction?

•  Take time to think and keep calm. Don’t rush writing your customer satisfaction survey questions for the sake of a deadline. Think, then write.

• Keep your brand voice in your survey, your customers really don’t want to hear from the robot. Be confident that you can be the best, but never cocky—and grow your fan club

• Stay one step ahead of your crocodile competitors so they can’t attack—send out a customer satisfaction survey so you know what’s going on in people’s heads

DON'T: Influence people

We’ve all filled out cheesy customer survey questions which are completely biased towards the company.

“How were our amazing customer success team today?”—Actually not so great, Dave hung up on me.

“Was it easy to find things in our organized aisles?”—No, it looked like someone had let a few bears loose.

“Who made your visit extra special today?”—I’d say it was Karen, she smashed my eggs while scanning them.

If you’re asking questions like these, you’re going to be left with a load of useless answers—and a few replies from trolls.

Instead of asking “How were our superstar team today?”, sack the superlatives and ask, “did our team resolve your problem?”

Let every customer tell their own story, and listen very carefully.

DO: Remember that timing is crucial

Generally, the sooner you send the survey, the better. Are you going to strike while when the order form has been processed or wait till the product lands in their hands?

Segmenting your users is essential before sending out your customer satisfaction survey—and timing is all.

Ask how people’s shopping experience was within 24 hours and it will still be fresh in their minds. Any later and they’ll probably have forgotten, unless it was awful—looking at you Karen, put those eggs away.

Likewise, find out how the shipping process was after the package has hit the doormat, and not a minute earlier.

DON'T: Forget the goal

You want to find out how happy your customers are. You’re not trying to do market research for a new product just yet, so don’t be tempted to veer off course.

Every survey you send out should have a clear goal. Before you even start putting the blocks of your typeform together, think:

 1. Who are these customer survey questions for?

 2. What are we actually asking?

 3. How are we going to use this information?

If you can’t answer these questions, take a breather and rethink your customer satisfaction survey plan. Go for a walk, catch-up with your dog—or start planning how to build a barception.

DO: Talk like a human

Robots haven’t taken over our jobs yet, so don’t start acting like one. Engage people by creating a customer feedback survey that mirrors a conversation.

Turn “users” into people. Ask questions as you would if you were speaking—ditch any jargon or formalities. Say hello, ask their name, and why not add a thank you screen with a discount code on their next purchase? They’re doing you a big favor.

It’s the little things that make the difference and will take your business from meh to YEH.

DON'T: Create questions to reach a "limit"

As long as you’re writing a customer satisfaction survey that will give you the information you need, don’t get too worked up over the number of questions.

Some people say 10 questions is the optimum number. Others warn you not to go over 20 questions. Sometimes, even one Likert scale question can do the job. It really depends—but as a rule of thumb, the shorter a customer satisfaction survey is, the better.

52% of people said they wouldn’t complete a survey if it took them over 3 minutes. We close more surveys than we complete, so keep it short and sweet.

Make it simple for people to whizz through your customer satisfaction survey and you’ll end up with a higher response rate. And that means you can really start concentrating on how to give the best service ever.

How you ask is everything.