How Can Surveys Be Helpful in Improving Your Customer Experience

Customer Experience Statistics

No matter what size a business you are, your customers will be essential to you. It doesn’t matter even if you only have a handful.  

You do your best not to be pushy with your customers while selling your products/services. You try to engage with them periodically. You try to address their queries and challenges the moment they come in. You try to keep them happy by always talking about their benefits. In short, you try to make use of everything under your power to provide good customer experience.

After all this is done, you expect just one thing – — feedback on how you’ve done and if they’re happy with you.

But we all know how difficult it is to get proper customer feedback, even after you have provided good customer experience. When you finally do get one, it usually doesn’t talk about the specific aspects of your overall Customer Experience (CX) efforts that you’d ideally like to know. 

Sure, positive feedback is always encouraging, and negative feedback rings the alarm bells. Acting upon feedback, without knowing which specific aspect of your CX is making the headlines or putting you in dire straits, could be a very uninformed decision, which you might regret later.

App reviews, appreciation mails, comments & messages on your social channels are fine, but they are mostly vague. If you try to go back with additional questions, you might draw a blank from them as only a handful of your customers might respond.

In lieu of this, a better solution for taking feedback to improve your CX is Surveys!

While the most important thing about surveys is you can get specific feedback about every aspect of your CX efforts. An additional benefit of surveys is that with the advent of tech-based survey platforms, you can get a holistic and unified view of every single thing your users care about, be it good or bad, in turn letting you act smartly on it. A Vision Critical study found that 86 percent of customers are more likely to participate in a survey to make a difference in the world.

Let’s have a look at some of the benefits of surveys.

Benefits of Surveys

Online surveys are not only easy to create and send but are also less time consuming and convenient for the recipients. While everyone understands the effectiveness of surveys in terms of both costs and being very direct, yet there are 3 understated benefits of surveys.

1. Broad Data Collection

Apart from user preferences, surveys help gather diverse qualitative data. Through a judicious mix of closed and open-ended questions, you can gauge the sentiments of your users, concerning not only your brand at large but also the specific aspects of your product. All the quantitative data that you get from your analytics tools are, no doubt, very much needed, but the qualitative data, such as to answer specific “why’s,” is something in which survey tools can help you.

Apart from that, at times, people also establish an emotional attachment with brands. For example, when a certain brand goes out of its way to help you during difficult situations. Surveys can be best utilized to have such kind of understanding from your users.

2. User Retention

Extrapolating on the previous point, how would you know what is it that your users are liking, or disliking, for you to improve upon it? The bottom line of surveys is they help you gain a deeper understanding of your consumers, their behavior, and their aspirations, and without having a profound knowledge of these, you cannot do a good job with your retention and engagement efforts.

Once you have an understanding of your user preferences and their specific inclinations, you’ll be in a position to make informed decisions regarding what your users need and how you can better their experience with your product offerings, for example, the EdTech Marketing solution we’ve build specifically for EdTech startups. This will help you retain your users for much longer duration.

Here’s a brilliant example of using surveys for customer retention by one of the biggest brands of the world – Starbucks. Way back in 2008, the global coffee chain launched a new initiative called “The Starbucks Idea”, as an engagement and retention mechanism for its customers.


3. High Audience Representativeness

Sample size is a very unique & important terminology in marketing. The reason being, as a business, you always want to understand what your users’ preferences are. But more often than not, you hit a block because what one user might like, a second user might not.

Solution? Data that has a large enough representation of your user personas, in short, a large enough sample size.

Surveys are perfectly positioned to help you with this as you’d ideally want all your users to participate in your business decisions. And when you send a survey questionnaire to a large segment of your users, that data will have a good representation of your users’ inclinations. Of course, you’d still need to first evaluate the total percentage of your users who responded, but if it’s large enough, say, a sample size of more than 50 or 60% of your users, then that should be sufficient.

It is important to remember that any survey you send to your user for feedback needs to be designed carefully.

The reason being, you send it too soon / too late, and you might not get a response. You send it to a wrong segment of users, and you might get trolled on social media. You send a survey with a convoluted questionnaire, and you might end up facing user churn.

Read more: What’s the Best Time to Send a Survey

To solve this, there are five key elements of Surveys that you need to take a good hard look at, before sharing them.

  • Purpose

While you might argue that the purpose of a survey is a given thing and a survey cannot be even designed without one, let me tell you that as much as I want to agree with you, sadly, it isn’t true.

Time and again, we all have come across poorly designed surveys, without a sense of purpose, without a top-down approach and with questions pointing to seemingly, every possible department of a business. 

The problem with not having a well-defined purpose or objective for your survey is that you might end up asking those questions to your users that might not be relevant to them, depending on the stage they are in their customer life cycle. Because of this, either your survey might fail to provide you the answers you need or might annoy your customers. 

Let me also stress how difficult it is to go back to your customers with multiple feedback requests. 

After bad products and non-responsive support teams, multiple feedback requests are arguably the next in line as the biggest deterrent for people to continue with a service.

Here’s a great purpose-driven survey example from Airbnb.survey example from Airbnb

  • Survey Design

Survey design refers to structuring your survey and asking the right questions, based on the objective you want to accomplish.

To give you an example,

Let’s say; you wish to send a survey to your users who have spent 30 days with your product (after their purchase), and you want to understand how their experience has been with using your product.

In such a scenario, asking something like, “have you been able to make use of the full feature set of the product” makes sense, but “how sure are you that you’d still be using the product 1 year down the line” doesn’t. 

It’s simply too soon to ask the latter and might irritate your customers on account of you being pushy.

Some of the other aspects of survey design include, 

  • No. of questions you should be asking which will dictate the time it’ll take to finish — the shorter, the better
  • Kind of questions — preference to yes/no, multi-choice and scale/range based question types as compared to long answer types
  • Closed-ended and unbiased questions
  • Asking for one thing at a time 
  • Consistent and to-the-point answer choices
  • Target Group

The third most important facet of your surveys will be your target group.

Imagine you signed up on an e-commerce website, surveyed through their catalog, added the best-selling t-shirt (as per the website) to your cart, and decided to make the purchase later after reaching home. You reached home but forgot about the t-shirt and the next morning, you see a small survey in your inbox, asking for your feedback on the t-shirt you purchased yesterday!!! 

You saw what went wrong here and how not having the right target group could leave a bad taste in your user’s mouth. 

I don’t know about you, but I’ll certainly have reservations against visiting such a website again.

Another example of why target groups matter because you might have been in interaction with one person during your sales cycle, but the chances are that the one who’s using your product might be someone else. Case in point is for big-ticket SaaS platforms, you might ideally be dealing with the CMO, but the person interacting with the platform regularly might be a junior.

In such a case, the CMO’s feedback might not be tangible enough for you to work upon. Hence, before reaching out, always define your target audience first.

  • Timing

After defining your target group, the next important act you’ll be faced with is the “timing of your surveys”.

Not all of your customers will be on the same stage of their buyer’s journey, at any given time. They might not have used all the aspects of your product or might have been a new buyer. In such scenarios, sending a feedback survey right away might not be a great idea.

It’s quite a bit of a problem — after a purchase has been made, you ask for the feedback too soon, and you might not get the desired feedback. Ask too late, and they’ll probably not remember about their experience. 

Hence, a balancing act is necessary here. Few of the starting requests might go awry. But with time, you’ll figure out the sweet timing of your customers when they’re most likely to give you the proper feedback you desire, on your products or platforms.

One company that scores full marks on the timing aspect is Uber.


Image Source: Uber

  • Amount of Information

Finally, you need to make sure that you seek to receive only that information that you’re either going to use directly or will give you significant insights into your CX. Because, let’s face it, no one likes filling surveys.

When your unnecessary questions lengthen your survey, it directly means more drop-offs. 

You need to stick to the objective you’ve defined for yourself and the reason you’ve outlined for the customers as to why their participation is important. Anything outside of it is likely to be met with resistance, which is not something you’d want.

Do you know which company does a great job of asking only what’s required? – Slack.

Qualaroo GIFImage Source: Qualaroo

So, there you have it. 

Taking care of the above pointers will ensure that you receive maximum responses to help you improve your CX efforts.

Best Practices for Surveys

Any operation cannot be executed if you don’t know about its best practices. In light of this, the following are some of the best practices that anyone sending surveys for feedback should implement.

  • Set expectations with “time it will take” — Will result in fewer drop-offs.
  • Incentives — Always helpful in getting people to agree to your requests.
  • Keep distractions to a minimum — So they only do what they’re supposed to and not venture around.
  • More optional questions — So that they can skip what they don’t want to answer.
  • Intention behind the survey — So that they fully know what they’re indulging into.
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About the author

Anand Vatsya

With 6+ years of experience, Anand is currently working as a Content Marketer at WebEngage. He is extensively involved in the organic growth of the company and has deep-lying interests in Growth Marketing, Product Marketing & UX. He’s a life-long Chelsea fan, an avid non-fiction reader & a Psychology nerd.

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