chad hendren
Chad Hendren

Are Your Customer Satisfaction Survey Questions Actionable?

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With customer experience today’s biggest competitive differentiator, it’s more important than ever to understand what customers want and need. This requires measuring customer satisfaction on an ongoing basis. High levels of customer satisfaction directly correlate to important future behaviors like the probability of buying again or referring your brand to others.

Yet, gauging customer satisfaction and being able to take actions from customer survey data are not simple tasks. They require asking actionable questions that will enable you to effectively gather data that can guide smart and strategic business decisions. So, what are actionable questions and how can you ensure your survey has them? Keep reading!

Determine What You Want to Know?

Start by getting down everything on paper that you want to learn from your customers. This probably will begin with an extensive list of questions. Then, start refining by considering why each question needs to be asked. Is this information essential? What are you going to do with it? The goal is to limit the survey to just questions that are essential. During this exercise, keep in mind your overall goal of the survey. Whether that’s improving the customer experience on a specific communication channel or understanding their entire journey, every question should help you achieve this goal.

Make Surveys Easy

Customer satisfaction surveys should be easy and understandable. Keep questions short like “What did you like about using online chat?” Every question should focus on one insight you’re trying to discover. Don’t muddy the water by asking vague or complex questions that can be construed in different ways. If you include a comment section for a question, don’t make it necessary to complete it or require a minimum character count. Give respondents the ability to answer in the way that works for them.

Don’t Influence Answers

Along with providing a survey that is easy to respond to, you want to make sure you’re not asking questions that lead respondents to answer a certain way. Your objective should always be to obtain unbiased feedback. Thus, avoid questions like “How well did you like the wide variety of self-service options to handle your service request?” This question can be asked in a way that is more neutral, such as, “What are your thoughts on the number of self-service service options provided?” Remember, how you phrase questions can significantly sway the responses that you receive.

Offer Incentives

It can be challenging to get customers to participate in surveys. However, the greater the participation you receive, the more valuable the data you’ll collect. Getting customers to share their thoughts often requires incentives. Entering their name into a prize drawing rarely generates interest, so you’ll need to think a little deeper into what your customers will deem valuable enough to offer their time and thoughts. This begins with communicating that their opinions are very valuable and that their input will be used to help solve problems or address certain needs. This helps humanize the survey process. You will also want to share with them that you will be using their feedback to take specific steps to improve products or services. This makes them feel involved and valued. Of course, a small token of your appreciation for their time can often help, too!

Carefully Segment Your Survey Audience

To understand the data you’re trying to gather and make actionable, you want to clearly understand your respondents, even if a survey is anonymous. A good way to do this is to include a profiling question that identifies their level of connection with your brand. This can be as simple a question as “Are you a regular customer, occasional customer or have never been a customer?”

This information will help you obtain a cross-section of customers and understand them at their stage of the relationship. You may discover that certain segments respond differently which can help you develop more actionable strategies for issues that impact processes, policies or marketing efforts. You may also want to segment based on demographics, such as age, gender, or psychographics like their attitudes or beliefs. Of course, you don’t want to bog down your survey with too many of these types of questions, but a couple can help you identify who you’re dealing with to better understand their responses.

Get Both Qualitative and Quantitative Feedback

You will want to capture responses that can be analyzed mathematically, as well as gather anecdotal comments. Quantitative questions can be multiple choice or on a rating scale. This type of data is particularly beneficial because it can be used to provide numeric results that can be tracked over time. Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a great example of a quantitative question. How likely are customers to recommend your brand? In contrast, qualitative feedback provides greater insights and details that can help you design the specific actions that lead to improvements.

Put It All Together

When you decide to conduct a customer satisfaction survey, you have a specific reason to do so. Stay focused on this reason throughout the survey process, from designing the survey to implementing actionable strategies based on the results. By keeping in mind that short, simple, smartly-crafted questions will generate the best data, you can make the most of your survey efforts. And, this will help you obtain the insights that will help propel implementable change.

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