You can funnel tremendous amounts of money to design a website, app, or product, but if it doesn't appeal to your audience, then it's all for nothing. Understanding your customers/visitors is the key to maximizing conversions.
According to Barclays’ analysis of the feedback economy, online customer feedback has been beneficial for 85% of small and medium-sized enterprises.
Surveys are one of the best ways to hear the voice of your customer. Survey feedback acts as a marker to guide you on the road of performance optimization, customer engagement, maximize customer satisfaction, and ultimately growth.
If done correctly, online surveys conducted using a survey software can save both your time and resources. However, if done in haste or without proper understanding, they can lead you to focus on all the wrong places and adversely impact your business.
The bottom line is you absolutely need surveys to know what your audience wants. In this guide, we’ll discuss how you can easily develop focused survey designs to write good customer survey questions that give you the actionable insights.
Let’s understand your survey objectives to begin with so that you can learn how to write a survey question.
A good survey question is one that lets you collect actionable insights while ensuring respondents’ engagement to reduce survey abandonment. They offer a quick and easy survey-taking experience to the respondents.
Here Are a Few Perks of Good Survey Questions:
Crafting good survey questions takes practice. It demands understanding your audience and knowing what kind of information you are looking for from the respondents. You need to establish your survey goals and do extensive data-based research before designing questions for your surveys.
1.) They Let You Collect Focused Feedback
Effective survey questions are important because they make it possible to collect focused feedback from the respondents. Each survey is designed for a specific purpose, such as NPS measures advocacy, CSAT gauges satisfaction, etc.
Therefore, your questions should resonate with the type of feedback you are looking for. A loosely designed survey risks unreliable results.
2.) They Form a Crucial Part of the Optimization Process
Website optimization improves the design and functionality of different website elements to render the best possible experience to visitors. Whether you are introducing new features or updating existing ones, you need a data-backed approach.
You cannot work on intuition. Focused survey questions will help you identify visitors’ issues and pain points. A good survey question lets you go further and discover the reasons behind their behavior without annoying the respondents.
By collecting meaningful insights, you can stay on track to make the changes to improve customer experience.
3.) They Eliminate Ambiguity for Respondents
The reliability of your survey results depends on the respondents’ answers. And their response will depend upon the interpretation of the question.
A good survey question is direct and eliminates chances of ambiguity. It helps in maintaining the accuracy of the results.
4.) They Ensure Data Validity, Accuracy, and Reliability
Writing survey questions that work will produce correct and accurate data. To follow a data-backed approach, you need to ensure the validity of your survey results. It will let you find issues, explore marketing opportunities, uncover pain points, understand your customers, segment the audience, and much more.
The WHAT (the Question Types)
What do you want to gather information about?
What aspect of your product do you wish to get feedback on?
Is it a simple poll to compare two features?
Do you want to know why a page has a good number of visits but significantly fewer conversions or a high bounce rate?
The WHO (the Target Audience)
The what will give way to the who. Who do you want to ask the questions to? Who is your target audience for this particular survey?
Your target audience will change with the aim behind the survey.
The WHERE, WHEN & HOW (Targeting Options)
The next step is to figure out where, when, and how the survey will target your audience? To maximize the number of responses, you need to place your survey where most people can interact.
You can also choose multiple channels simultaneously, such as putting it at the right places on your website, sending it by mail, adding it to your app, and more.
With the what, who, when, and how taken care of, you are now ready to start framing the survey questions.
Asking the right questions at precisely the right time will get the answers you are looking for from the prospects or customers.
The right question gets the right response.Knowing which questions to ask can make or break your survey!
A good survey should provide quantitative feedback and also give insights on the reason behind the specific feedback.
For this reason, you need to add questions that are:
It brings us to the question types that you can add to your surveys.
Survey question types can be divided into two types:
Most of your surveys would have to utilize both types to get real actionable insights into user behavior.
1. Open-Ended or Free-Text
These question types allow the respondents to type the answer in their own words instead of choosing from given options. Open-ended questions are instrumental in understanding the users' concerns.
You can use them to collect initial data on user dynamics and behavior when creating your first surveys. You can also use them to get suggestions and insights about customer's issues in any survey.
The main drawback of free-form questions is they require more time and effort to answer, which may reduce the response rate. Plus, the lack of structured responses makes it difficult to analyze them to produce conclusive feedback.
However, a lot of survey tools provide in-built mechanics to analyze the free-text questions, such as AI-based analytical engines to make the job easier.
Examples of open-ended questions:
Close-ended questions are those where the respondents can only select their answer from the given options.
The limitation provides the advantage to get more focused responses. Plus, they take relatively less time to answer for the user. It is good to add them in the beginning to get the user started on your survey.
You can quickly analyze the responses using graphs, charts, and more. They can give you quantitative insights and track the progress over time, such as improvement in customer satisfaction scores.
Close-ended questions can be further divided into different subtypes as given below:
Each subtype has its visual representation and usage depending on the type of input you want from the respondent. We will now go over each of these separately and to help you learn how to write good customer survey questions, we’ll discuss each type with sample questions.
Multiple-choice questions have a set of options, typically 4-5, and the respondents can choose a single option or multiple options as the answer depending upon the settings.
Multiple-choice questions are of two types:
a. Single Answer
In these, the respondent can choose only a single answer from the set of options.
Multiple answer types allow the respondent to choose all the options that apply to the answer.
You don’t want to force the respondents to choose a single option and want to allow a range of responses.
4. Dichotomous or Yes/No Questions
Dichotomous questions are straightforward 'Yes' or 'No' questions. They have only two options as responses for the user, and the respondent can select only one of them.
The most common way to pose a dichotomous question is to use branching logic to direct the respondent to further questions depending upon his/her answer as yes or no to understand the reason behind the answer.
Dichotomous questions are particularly useful to segment your users into two groups quickly. They are also great to start your surveys as it requires little to no effort in answering them.
5. Rating Scale
Rating scale, popularly used in surveys like NPS, is the question type where responses are mapped on a numerical scale. It asks the respondents to provide their ratings such as satisfaction or product recommendation on a scale of 1-10 or 1-5.
The lowest number signifies negative sentiment, while the highest number indicates a very positive emotion.
For example, an NPS rating scale:
Rating scales are beneficial to read progress or trends over time. Sending the same question to respondents over different periods can help you visualize whether the score has improved with time or not.
They are used to get customer satisfaction scores, product recommendation scores, rating customer support, to name a few.
6. Ranking Questions
Ranking questions ask the respondents to arrange the answers in order of their preference. The importance of this question type is to find out the most preferred and least preferred option for the users.
Ranking questions are useful to direct you toward customers' needs or preferences. You can get qualitative information about the areas you should prioritize to improve to provide the best user experience.
7. Likert Scale
The Likert scale is also a comparison metric, but unlike the rating scale, it calculates the user's level of agreement or disagreement with the given statement in the question.
Likert is a 5 or 7 point scale in which the median acts as a neutral point. The extreme left and right end show strong dislike/disagreement and strong like/agreement, respectively.
Likert scale is better than 'Yes' or 'No 'type questions because they give the respondent more options, making the data more reliable. It allows you to quantitatively measure the respondents' sentiment and opinion towards your product or service or any other topic.
Use the Likert scale when you want to dig deeper into how your users feel about a particular aspect of your business, such as shopping experience, changes in a process, etc.
8. Matrix matching
Matrix matching is a closed-ended question type in which you can ask several mutually exclusive questions in a grid form. The questions are added to the rows, and answer options are added to the columns. The respondents answer each question against the options provided in the column matrix.
A multi-select matrix question reduces the length of the survey form. It comes in handy when you want to ask multiple questions about various elements of the same product or service.
One major drawback of this question type is that it may lead to straightlining, where the respondent gives identical responses to all questions, thereby reducing the data quality.
The blueprint of your survey is now ready. We have established the survey's objective, identified the target audience, and know the question types at our disposal. It leads us to the most critical step, i.e., writing the questions.
While writing survey questions, you need to keep certain points in mind to make the survey short yet conclusive and, most importantly, non-invasive to the respondents; otherwise, you risk high form abandonment.
1. Ask Simple and to the Point Questions
Use questions that are concise and simple to understand for the respondents. The words and phrases you use may mean different things for different readers.
Instead of asking, 'Do you have a high daily activity level?' we can rephrase it as;
Now, we can get a much more in-depth answer to the question. Therefore, be specific about what you want to ask. It will help you get precise answers from your surveys.
Also, be polite in the process.
Here’s a handy guide on how to ask for feedback without annoying your customers.
2. Avoid Using Jargons or Buzzwords
This point is an extension of the last point but very important to keep in mind while designing your survey.
How will your users answer the questions if they don't fully understand them or need to look them up in the dictionary?
It would lead to the following situations:
This question requires the user to understand the meaning of the term 'BMR,' which may not be possible in every case.
Hence, it is essential to frame questions in a language you usually use while communicating with someone in day-to-day life.
3. Try to Make Your Questions Optional for Users.
Sometimes a respondent may want to avoid answering a question. The reasons can be personal or lack of precise response. There should be a way for them to continue the survey without being obligated to answer it.
Forcing the answers on users can lead to form-abandonment and may annoy them because they took the time to fill in other answers but cannot complete the survey now due to no skipping choice.
It is also possible that the user may select an option at random decreasing data reliability.
4. Opt for More Close-Ended Questions Than Free-Text Type Questions
There are a few points in favor of choosing closed-ended questions over open-ended type:
If you have to add free-text questions to your surveys, add them towards the end, if possible and try to keep them optional so the respondents do not quit the survey, and even if they do, they would have already answered the other questions.
5. Do Not Overlap Options in the Multiple-Choice Questions
Consider the following question: 'What is your age group?'
Suppose the provided options are 18-24, 24-32, 32-45, 45-60, above 60. The problem with this data range is that the user whose age is 24 or 32 or 45 has two answer choices, which will skew your response data.
Therefore, each option should be mutually independent to provide clear answer choices to the respondent.
6. Add 'Other' or 'Don't Apply' to the Options
A good survey should never force an answer out of the respondent's comfort. Always allow an 'out' for the customers to choose a neutral option to the question because:
If personal information is mandatory, expect some users to jump ship! Keep all hands on deck and make sensitive information optional
Adding an alternative option is a reasonable thing to do to avoid such situations. You can add 'other' or 'don't apply' to the options and then ask them to specify their reasons by adding a free-text box to the option.
7. Avoid Double-Barreled Questions
A double-barreled question adds/presents two questions into one. In such a case, the respondent may have conflicting views or different priorities about two statements. This makes it harder for the user to answer it and also decreases the reliability of the answers.
Here, the user may be very satisfied with the customer support level but may not share the same sentiment with the response time.
An easy fix is to divide it into two separate questions. It makes your survey more focused, to the point, and less confusing to the users.
8. Avoid Assumptions and Loaded Questions
A loaded question is the one that inherits an assumption in itself about the respondents. Such questions may add the surveyor's opinion into the questions and sway the answer in a certain direction. It may result in misleading answers.
If your user can't possibly say no to the question, then the question BIASED
What’s your favorite beer?
In the above example, the survey assumes that the user drinks beer, which may not be right for everyone. Always keep questions neutral without alluding to some bias.
The problem can be solved by changing the question's perspective or splitting it into multiple ones.
You can now add branching logic to this question to direct the respondent to the next relevant question depending upon the answer.
9. Apply the Foot-in-the-Door Principle, i.e., Start With Small Questions
The foot-in-the-door is a compliance technique that assumes agreeing to a small request increases the likelihood of agreeing to a second, larger request.
It means that if a user starts to do a survey, there is a higher chance that he/she will complete it. The foot-in-the-door principle allows you to commit the user to take the whole survey.
You should start by asking small questions like 'yes' or 'no' and then asking more focused questions. But do take caution not to go overboard and annoy your respondents by forcing them to answer questions they usually would not want to answer.
10. Alternate Your Survey Questions
Alternating the survey questions lets you collect data points on different types of user scenarios and issues.
It helps to draw a complete picture of user issues, suggestions, and pain points.
Therefore, offer a variety of questions to the respondents to get a deep understanding of what your customers are thinking about your products and services.
11. Always Test Your Surveys Before Sending Them Out
Because everybody makes mistakes.
You should always test the surveys to catch errors, make improvements, and perfect your questions.
Imagine designing a good survey and finding minor mistakes after sending it out to the users. It will not only affect the responses but may also skew your results. Therefore testing is pertinent to creating the surveys.
Send your survey to the internal team or some control group to test its efficacy and make necessary improvements to get the users' best results.
Writing effective survey questions allows you to reap the benefits of survey feedback to improve both; conversions and UX.
Let’s visit some scenarios where you can use surveys to achieve different goals.
1. To Understand Why Your Product Is Not Selling
Effective survey questions can help find what customers like about your products and why they opted to buy or not buy them.
Use the correct survey questions to understand the customers' buying intent and figure out how to increase sales.
Examples of good survey questions to know the selling point of your products:
2. To Know Your Audience and Users
How will you personalize the user experience if you don't know your user types, demographics, and preferences?
A smart technique is to invest in creating user personas of your customers.
Surveys are one of the best ways to build customer personas to help you identify who your users are, what they need, and the leading causes preventing them from achieving them.
Good survey question examples to create a user persona:
3. To Explore New Product Opportunities
One more crucial advantage of surveys is in exploring product opportunities. You can understand the customers' needs and map demand for new products with perfect selling points to appeal to the target demographic.
Examples of survey questions to understand the market fit for products:
4. To Understand Users' Purchase Preference
Post-purchase surveys are helpful to find out customers' preferences and collect data that can be used in retargeting them to come back again to your website.
Examples of questions to build feedback into your product's lifecycle:
5. To Understand Why People Leave Your Website or Product or Services
A high bounce rate drastically affects sales opportunities, SEO rankings, and your customer base.
Therefore, it is essential to get behavioral insights into user actions and determine why people are leaving your website without completing the desired actions, such as buying the product, filling the form, signing up for newsletters, and more.
Exit intent surveys are resourceful means to collect feedback from leaving users. They target various user actions such as cart abandonment, landing page abandonment, checkout abandonment, etc., to collect actionable insights.
Examples of good exit-intent survey questions:
6. To Understand Your Customers' Fears and Concerns
Your priority should be to understand your customers' problems, address their worries, and clear the doubts. Addressing customer concerns can improve your products and increase conversions.
Sample questions to ask to understand users' fears:
7. To Measure Customer Satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is the epitome of measuring the success of your business. Satisfied customers are directly proportional to revenue, customer retention, growth and brand loyalty, and brand exposure.
Therefore, It is necessary to design customer satisfaction surveys carefully. They measure customer interactions with various elements such as customer support, website, app, product performance, and more.
Sample questions for collecting CSAT score from users:
Designing a survey from scratch can be overwhelming. If you are new to survey methods, it can be challenging to come up with focused questions.
There are various standardized survey metrics types available in the market; you can choose to design your first surveys. They can help you measure customer satisfaction, usability, and efficiency of your products and services.
As you gather more feedback from initial surveys, you will recognize the type of questions you need to ask from your users in subsequent surveys to collect desired data points and design your survey from scratch.
Many tools also provide pre-built templates to create surveys in minutes to save time and effort.
1. NPS (Net Promoter Score) Survey
NPS surveys are prevalent because of the simplicity and response rate. They consist of a customer rating scale from 1-10 to evaluate general brand or product loyalty, customer satisfaction, and product recommendations.
The users are generally categorized into Detractors, Neutrals, and Promoters based on their low, medium, and high ratings.
You can also use branching logic to gather further insights depending upon their answers.
2. CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) Survey
CSAT Score, as the name suggests, is a direct metric to measure customer satisfaction. It is useful when you want to know how happy your customers are with your product or services.
The CSAT survey may contain a rating scale, such as an emoji scale or star scale, to determine the respondents' satisfaction level.
You can also add an open-ended question and other multiple-choice questions to get further information about their experience.
3. CES (Customer Effort Score) & UES (User Effort Score) Survey
CES or UES measures the effort the customer or user has put into completing an action. The action can be making a purchase, getting an issue resolved by customer support, etc. It measures the user's experience and interaction with the product or service. Thus, it is a post-action survey.
This survey also features a rating scale or Likert scale, which can be followed by other questions.
CES and UES are real-time feedback metrics that can identify the customers' problems and resolve them. They are also great metrics to map the customer journey and user experience at each point of their action.
4. SUS (System Usability Score) Survey
SUS survey is a standardized questionnaire that employs a Likert scale to measure your product or services' perceived usability. It consists of 10 question statements on a 5 point Likert scale. The scores are then normalized to get percentile reading.
The SUS is useful to assess specific features of your product and understand the problem areas for the user. You can also use it to measure user reactions to new features and products.
5. UMUX (Usability Metric for User Experience) Survey
UMUX is a short qualitative survey slightly different from SUS. Whereas SUS assesses perceived usability and learnability, UMUX measures the product's usability by gauging effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction. It has 4 question statements on a 7 point Likert scale.
6. Five Second Test
A Five-second test, also called the first impression test, is the assessment to measure the product's usability and learnability upon first glance by the user. The survey is shown to the users five seconds after they have opened the product or website.
The goal is to understand if the first impression of the product or service is on point or not. These surveys are useful for mock designs, prototype testing, graphic designs, and more.
7. ASQ (After-Scenario Questionnaire)
ASQ is used to gauge how difficult a task was for the user. It is presented to the users after they have completed the scenario.
It has three question statements on a Likert scale to measure the ease of completing the task, overall completion time, and support information received while performing the task.
The ASQ is used as a usability testing questionnaire suited for testing prototypes or live websites and products.
A customer survey is a powerful tool that lets you communicate with your audience and listen to your product's feedback. It helps to resolve the customers' issues promptly and optimize the products. Writing good survey questions is an arti with a science behind it which you can understand with this analysis. Now that you know how to write good customer survey questions, it is time to design and send out the surveys to your audience.
The Beginner’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is an in-depth tutorial designed to help you convert more passive website visitors into active users that engage with your content or purchase your products.
With a 30% or higher response rate, every product owner should be asking their customers these questions.
Whether you are developing a new product or have been selling the same one for years, you need user feedback.