What is a customer survey?
A customer experience (CX) survey is a tool that businesses can use to collect data and actionable insights from a specific group of respondents. It can help companies understand how well they’re serving customer needs and what they could do better. Using customer feedback surveys drives revenue and brand loyalty and helps businesses deliver the quality of service customers expect.
Customer feedback surveys ask one or more questions that can vary in detail, depending on whether the survey format includes open-ended questions, multiple-choice options, ranked-choice, dropdowns, or rating scales. They are used by organizations of all types and sizes — from healthcare providers and fast-food restaurants to government agencies and academic institutions.
When to use surveys
Companies can use surveys whenever they want to:
Understand their quality of service or product, brand, or customer support in order to know what is working, what the issues are, and how to improve customer satisfaction
Make better business decisions based on what their customers want
Collect customer feedback for other marketing purposes
Types of surveys for data collection
The following are types of qualitative and quantitative surveys commonly associated with customer care.
Net Promoter Score surveys
The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a customer satisfaction metric used to measure how loyal a customer is to a company. NPS surveys typically ask a single question with a number for an answer. For example, the customer might be asked, “How likely are you to recommend our services to a friend or family member on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being very unlikely and 10 being very likely?” People who give very high scores are your most loyal and satisfied customers. These are your promoters who can help you drum up new business.
Customer Satisfaction Score surveys
A Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) survey asks customers to indicate their level of satisfaction (very dissatisfied, neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, somewhat satisfied, or very satisfied) with your products, services, website or mobile app experience, or team members.
Customer Effort Score surveys
Customer Effort Scores (CES) measure how easy your services or products are for people to use and how much effort is required to find information or get help with a problem. For example, a customer might be asked, “How easily were you able to get help with your problem on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being very difficult and 5 being very easy?”
Visual rating surveys
Rating surveys ask closed-ended questions about overall product quality or the experience you provide. For instance, if a customer has recently purchased a product from your business, you could follow up with an email survey asking, “How satisfied are you with your new [product name]?” The customer would then answer by clicking on an emoji or the number of stars (or some other visual representation of satisfaction) that corresponds with their level of happiness.
Conditional surveys use conditional branching, or skip logic, to lead respondents along a path of answers based on previous responses. This eliminates questions from the survey that don’t apply to the respondent, saving them time and effort while increasing the likelihood that they will fill out the survey in its entirety.
Custom surveys can be built and tailored to your audience, questions, and branding. Customization allows you to make the right impression and get the exact responses you’re looking for.
Save yourself time and effort with pre-built, templatized surveys that can be sent out with minor modifications. Using these prepared templates to gather information can help surface opportunities for other questions to include that you may not have considered in the first place.
How customer care surveys are distributed
Depending on the nature and preferences of your business, you can conduct a survey in a variety of ways to reach a large number of people. Surveys are deployed via the following methods.
Sending out an email is an easy way of conducting surveys. The respondents are targeted, and their knowledge about your brand gives them a better chance of responding. Email surveys are beneficial because they are cost-effective, simplify data collection, and are easy to mass send. However, it is difficult to understand the sentiment behind the answers and can lead to response bias.
Social media and chat
Social media surveys are published as links on social media platforms, and people who follow the brand can respond. These surveys are great for those looking for far audience reach and large sample sizes but can be time-consuming and more costly than other survey methods.
SMS surveys are perfect for quick responses. These surveys should be short and straightforward. This method increases the open and response rates of feedback collection. SMS surveys are easy to deploy and are an instant way to get feedback. However, many people respond negatively to unwanted texts, so you should have permission before sending them.
Website surveys can be used when a person enters the website or leaves it. This digital format allows answers to be collected and analyzed quickly. Online surveys are cost-effective because they require minimal staffing. They also provide anonymity which increases the likelihood of honest responses. However, you might see an increase in errors and unanswered questions than with other survey types.
Surveys can also be conducted over the phone through inbound or outbound calls. However, it may be good for agents to schedule a call in advance when conducting telephone surveys, as it has become less common for people to answer calls from numbers they do not recognize. Phone surveys are convenient for trained staff but require a limitation to questions and may make it difficult to connect with customers.
Leveraging the right call center technology will help you establish managed workflows, proper resources for agent-customer interactions, and secure survey data collection.
Written surveys via mail are another option if you prefer more traditional surveying methods or if your respondents are more likely to respond this way. This method is beneficial for gathering feedback from specific populations, but it can be difficult to follow up once the feedback has been collected. It may also require more staffing and may be more costly than online surveys.
Benefits of omnichannel surveys
An omnichannel approach is the best way to increase the reach of your customer feedback survey and maximize the chances of people taking it. Omnichannel surveys are integrated across all channels you use to interact with your target audience. Not only does this make for a seamless user experience, but it also enables your customers to pause and resume taking your feedback survey from any channel they prefer — whether email, SMS, website, social media, live chat, or any other touchpoint along the way.
Ways to improve your survey quality
Brands should continuously strive to increase their survey quality so they can get accurate results and a high return on investment. Here are some simple tips for creating better surveys.
Ask survey questions in the best way possible
When making a questionnaire, the best way to ask a question will depend on the information you’re trying to gather. If you want specific details about improving your customer experience, an open-ended blank field response may be the best approach as it enables the respondent to write as much as they want without limitations. If you simply want to know how well an agent has served a customer’s needs on a scale of 1 to 5, then a rating-style survey would be the better option. The way you ask questions directly impacts the detail of the responses, so make sure you ask the appropriate survey questions to elicit the types of answers you want.
Don’t ask for more personal information than necessary
People agree to take surveys because they’re eager to share their thoughts on your business — not because they want to give you all their personal information. Asking for too many personal credentials may lead some people to quit the survey prematurely. Before asking for personal details, make sure you don’t already have that information — and that it’s necessary to collect in the first place. You’ll also want to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations, as well as your own company policies.
Use the right channel for distribution
Certain demographics may be more responsive on specific channels. It will take some survey research to understand what your target audience’s preferred channels are, but learning where they are online will be worth it. You’ll then be able to send them surveys through social media platforms, messaging apps, or other channels where they spend the most time — thereby increasing your chances of participation.
Make sure your survey is on brand
If you send out a survey that has no apparent connection to your brand, your respondents are less likely to complete it. It may look more like a suspicious attempt to gather personal information than an actual branded survey from a business. Take the time to design your surveys so they look official, are consistent with your brand, and are easily recognizable as being administered by your business.
Run a quality check prior to distribution
Survey errors could compromise the integrity of your survey data. Before sending a digital survey out, make sure you’ve previewed and taken a test survey yourself — ideally across several different devices and browsers to verify that there aren’t any glitches or other functionality issues. Share your survey with others to ensure additional testing for proofreading and comprehension.
Enable branching functionality
Branching refers to automatically skipping questions in a survey that don’t pertain to the respondent based on the answers they’ve already provided. Branching will prevent survey fatigue resulting from sifting through many irrelevant questions, so it’s good to use a survey platform with this capability.
Benefits of survey software tools
Customer survey software can tell you exactly how customers feel about your company and its products or service offerings. With the proper survey software tools, you’ll be able to create custom surveys for any channel, schedule them for automatic distribution after an interaction with a customer, and synthesize the data into information on improving customer satisfaction. With survey software tools, you’ll be able to:
Cut down on customer service expenses: customer surveys leave nothing to guesswork — carefully constructed surveys will generate the specific and honest feedback you need to make informed decisions surrounding customer service strategy
Learn more: Can You Have Your Cake and Eat it, Too? How to Balance Quality and Efficiency in Customer Care
Reassure customers that you care: by sending out surveys, you communicate to your client base that you care about their opinion and want to better meet their needs — this will set you apart from other brands and help ensure repeat customers
Increase agent engagement: Using customer survey software tools, you can quickly see which of your agents are the most engaged and which could benefit from additional training
How to create a survey
The quality of a customer experience survey is contingent upon the foresight and planning in every step of the survey creation. If you take the time beforehand to plan and research the best design and distribution methods, you will end up with high-quality results that can improve your business. We’ve outlined some of the key aspects of survey creation below and the best practices for each step.
1. Pinpoint what you want to learn
Thinking about your questions and goals will guide you in creating a survey. Without a formal survey research question, you’ll generate information, but not the kind of information you need to make strategic business decisions. An example of a reasonable research question could be learning what your customers think of the latest version of your product or finding out which of several service offerings would make the best addition to your current services.
2. Know when and who to send the survey to
Once you know what your research goals are, it’s time to hone in on the right audience. An audience could be past or present customers, prospective clients, incoming or departing employees — whoever your research goals are geared toward. When you know who your audience is, you can figure out the best time of day and place to reach them, whether that be social media in the evening, telephone in the morning, email in the afternoon, etc.
3. Choose the right type of survey and questions
Some survey methods are better for certain types of questions. Multiple-choice surveys are by far the most common type of survey question because they’re easy to use and analyze, and they make for a quicker user experience. Still, they aren’t ideal if you wanted to know a respondent’s priorities from least important to most important in a product, for example. In that case, a ranking survey would be best. Other options include:
Rating scales: closed-ended questions that gather information about a product or topic; for example, “On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being not likely at all and 10 being extremely likely, how likely are you to recommend our services to someone you know?”
Likert scales: closed-ended questions that ask the respondent to indicate how much they agree or disagree with a statement
Matrix questions: a group of Likert-style questions presented in a table format; the rows serve as questions and the columns contain the answer options
Open-ended questions:require the respondent to provide a written reply in an empty text field without any pre-filled answers
Dropdown menus: a scrollable list of answers that presents multiple choices in a cleaner and less overwhelming way
Image-choice questions: allow respondents to select image answers to indicate favorable visual characteristics of a logo, a product, an ad, or other topic, to break up the monotony of text answers
Click-map questions: present respondents with an image and allow them to click on elements of the picture as a way of answering the question (i.e., “What is your eye first drawn to on this product packaging?”)
4. Design and test your survey
Having established all of the above, you can then move on to the design phase where you write out the questions, implement them into your survey tool or platform, and add your branding (when appropriate). Then, you’ll want to test the survey to make sure the questions are clear and all the interactive elements work properly.
5. Send the survey and analyze the results
Before you send your survey, it’s important to devise a plan for achieving your goal response rate. Again, everyone in the sample should reply to the survey to determine the response rate.
Sending the survey is only part of the work. Once the results are in, you may benefit from having specific software in place to turn open-ended responses (which will otherwise take a long time to work through) into actionable information. These tools can also analyze an entire data set and draw conclusions from it that you can make a plan to act on. The insights provided by your survey software can condense key results into a digestible, contextualized report for decision-makers or team members who will be implementing the survey findings.
Thanking survey respondents for their time is not enough of a follow-up. Many companies fail to take advantage of the opportunity to circle back with their survey respondents. These are missed opportunities to get deeper insights on ways you can improve your processes, performance, and revenue. Following up is a great way to show your customers you listened to their feedback and are working to implement it. It’s also the perfect opportunity to ask for more details on the most interesting and helpful responses.
If you receive harsh feedback, consider sending a follow-up email with the following types of questions:
Does our team have your permission to contact you regarding your feedback?
If we were to implement your feedback, may we reach out to you again to discuss the changes?
What could our team do to improve your satisfaction by just one percent?
One percent may sound like a low bar, but it elicits more realistic suggestions that your teams can feasibly act on. Allow your respondent to reply in a blank field with an unlimited character count so they can give as much detail as they want.
Extracting insights with survey analysis
Raw data isn’t beneficial if you don’t know how to analyze it. Survey analysis is the process of gathering, synthesizing, and extracting information from customer survey results. This process can produce actionable insights for improving products and services, or reveal the need for agent training and coaching. Analysis can be done manually, but results are typically more reliable when analyzed by software — especially when dealing with larger amounts of survey data.
If you’re analyzing your responses manually, asking the following types of questions may help you extract the answers you’re looking for:
How did most people answer X question?
Which responses have the most substantial impact on our company?
How has satisfaction increased or declined since [date range]?
What demographic is most impacted by X problem?
What is the most common complaint about X product?
What is the general sentiment about our customer service?
Use Sprinklr Modern Care to get customer feedback that can help you identify issues and improve customer satisfaction
With the world’s only unified customer experience management (Unified-CXM) platform, Sprinklr Modern Care makes it easy to create customized, on-brand customer surveys — and then deploy them automatically on any channel, according to your rules. Then it integrates all customer responses onto a dedicated survey reporting dashboard that analyzes feedback, measures NPS, and recommends improvements. Sprinklr’s customer survey software makes it easy to:
Add customized questions to pre-built survey templates in minutes, with multi-language support to ensure you can reach all customers in all markets
Control the visibility of questions based on the customer’s responses — so they only see questions that apply to their experience or reflect answers they’ve already given
Deliver surveys to customers on the channels they choose, via private message or through a public survey
Send surveys automatically across a full range of digital channels, all from one platform
Configure rules to ensure that each survey that gets sent out matches the audience
Identify and head off urgent issues by sending surveys to a random sample of customers — reducing the time and work needed to gather important information
View and analyze customer feedback from multiple channels — and transform it into insights that drive better service and customer experiences
Make sure your responses match each customer’s feedback
Associate survey responses with relevant cases and agents to see who’s creating the experiences that customers love — and who could use some coaching
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