How to create great customer surveys

in Business Hacks

by
Samuel Cabodi (sca)

Get to know your customers better and improve your strategy

To keep your customers satisfied, it’s important to know them. And although good marketing research will give you great insight into what they want, having actual customer feedback is the the best way to ensure you're using the right strategy.

Surveys allow you to get your customer's specific point of view and opinions - that is, if you can get them to actually complete the survey. And writing a survey that customers will take the time to fill in is a hard task.

Here are the "rules" to follow if you want to get the intelligence you're looking for.

1. Keep it short

The longer your survey is, the more chance people will abandon it before the end. Limit your questions to the essential ones. It’s more important to get good insight on fewer subjects than none at all.
Try to keep all your questions on a single page so that people see how long (or actually short) it is. If you feel like it's going to be too long for a single page, put only a few questions on each page. It's better for the recipient to see that there are several pages that each take a few seconds, than two pages with loaded with questions.

With Odoo, you can create as many pages as you want and add as many questions as you like to each page.

2. Tell the participant how long the survey is

Most people avoid surveys because they think they'll waste a lot of their time. If you give your customers a clear idea of how much time it'll take to complete survey, they'll be more likely to participate. Make the time commitment sound as minimal as possible with friendly phrases such as "Please spare us just two minutes to complete our survey and give us your feedback!" But, make sure your time estimation is realistic, or participants will feel lied to and you'll create unnecessary frustration.

3. Ask one question at a time

Make sure that you only have one question per answer field. A question like "Does the quality of our products and the shipping costs meet your expectations?" is actually two separate questions. Respondents may want to answer yes to the product quality and no to the shipping costs, but won’t be able to. They will probably pass on the question or give an answer that doesn't truly represent their opinion - and what's the point of collecting survey data that's inaccurate?

4. Allow for no answer

People may want to avoid some questions for a variety of reasons. Allowing them to skip these questions will actually help you get accurate overall data from the surveys. An incorrect answer will bias your results, whereas no answer will have no negative impact.


Odoo's survey tool is set to allow all questions to be left unanswered, but, if you really want to, you can very easily change the settings to make answers mandatory.

5. Use only one scale of answers

If you use scales for some of your questions, the scale should be the same for every one. Using different scales will confuse the respondent and frustrate them as they waste time understanding and applying the new scale. If your question doesn't fit the scale, reformulate it rather than adapting the scale.

Bear in mind that it's up to you to decide what scale best fits your needs, but that the scale will affect the results. If, for instance, you use a scale with just three choices, your survey will be more simple for participants and it will be easier for you to analyze the data - but nuance will be harder to get so your survey may not produce in-depth results. On the other end, a scale of 9 will give participants a lot of choice, but it will be tougher to use to the data to find out what (if any) changes you should make. You can use a pair number for your scale if you want to cancel the "neutral" effect.

6. Avoid pushing towards one answer

Sometimes, even unconsciously, we tend to formulate a question in a way that leads the reader to favour one specific answer that they wouldn't normally have given. Surveys are not made to flatter your ego, but to find out what has to be improved. Keep your writing style neutral.
For example, you shoud write "How would you rate the quality of our service?" rather than "Was our service up to the excellence we aim for?"

7. Ask only what you need to know

The aim of your survey is to enhance the quality of your service, product, communication, etc. But chances are you will want to ask questions outside of that field of research. That will make your survey longer while bringing answers that you won't be able to use right away. Focus on your subject, and if you feel the need to ask more questions, keep them for another survey you send out at a later date.

8. Use incentives wisely

A good way to grab participants' attention is to offer something in return for the time they've given. However, make sure that the present isn't too attractive so that you don't get thousands of participants answering badly as they rush towards the end of the survey (and their chance at winning!). 

You can also require a written answer for some questions so that people will take their time and the uninterested participants will be weeded out.

9. Contact customers at the right time

Most people will only complete surveys during their free time, so it's important to contact them at the right moment. Sending the emails outside of working hours, for example in the evening around 7pm, will increase the likelihood of people responding.

10. Use filters

Some participants will give the same answer to all questions for any kind of reason, so filtering out their answers is a good way to keep only the more accurate ones.
In some cases where you could avoid asking several questions, filters will be very useful. For instance, some questions you ask depend on an answer given before. Example: for answer A, questions 1, 2 & 3 are relevant, but not questions 4, 5 & 6. For answer B, it’s the opposite. If you put a filter from within the survey on that answer, you can eliminate the questions that are irrelevant to that answer.

Think these tips are useful? Feel free to share on social media!


Subscribe to our newsletters

Human Resources & Productivity


Marketing