Surveys are a crucial part of the customer experience. They let your customers know that their opinions matter, that – in fact – their opinions are at the heart of your business’s success. Customer insight is so important that, according to Gartner, in 2016, 89% of businesses will compete on customer experience, with customer feedback a crucial component of providing that experience. Industry leaders recognize the value customer insight holds but, likewise, understand that gathering this insight can prove to be a challenge.
A recent study shows that survey response rate have declined in the past two decades, the result of various factors. Over-surveying, lack of incentive, time-commitment, and irrelevancy are cited as main causes of response fatigue. But another reason for fatigue can be found in the design of the survey questions themselves. Poorly written survey questions not only cause respondent fatigue; they prove to be a waste of your time and resources.
Designing Questions for Maximum Completion Rates
One way to ensure better completion rates is by carefully crafting your questions. Unfortunately, there are often no magic bullet, one-size-fits-all questions to include on surveys, as the specific goal of each survey will dictate which questions are asked. However, regardless of the survey’s aim, or the questions asked, there are several tried-and-true approaches you can take to improve the design of your questions. Here are three suggestions for crafting questions which will yield beneficial results but won’t exhaust your respondents.
Minimize your bias. Avoid asking loaded or leading questions which influence how the reader is going to respond. Leading questions will generally begin with “Wouldn’t you say…?” or “Don’t you like it when…?” These kinds of questions will only confuse your reader. Likewise, they will probably feel frustrated by the blatant manipulation inherent in these kinds of questions. Establish and maintain a neutral tone with each question. Remember, the point of customer feedback isn’t to tell them how to feel. You want them to provide you with an honest account of their feelings and impressions. A well-written question will allow respondents to answer truthfully without being pulled to one side or the other.
Use very simple language
Do not use jargon or unfamiliar acronyms, and avoid words that could have multiple meanings without appropriate context. Customers want to provide you with opinions but don’t want to sit through a lengthy question-answer session with a dictionary and thesaurus at their side. Although acronyms and jargon may seem appealing, lending your survey an air of professionalism and knowledge, certain sample groups may not know what you are referring to, making this kind of language potentially disastrous for completion rates. Sticking to clear and concise language will ensure that anybody can complete your survey.
Only ask actionable questions
Only ask a question if you can take action on the response. Does knowing your respondent’s family income level help you take action? Maybe. Probably not. If you can’t do anything with the information, don’t ask the question. Otherwise, respondents are likely to feel imposed upon. In fact, according to a recent Vovici study, a common complaint heard from many was that surveys asked for too much personal information. To justify whether or not a question is worth asking, gauge its value for providing you with ways to track and measure customer satisfaction. Your goal, after all, is to collect useful information to improve customer service, not amass databases of useless customer information.
Good Survey Design is Key to Completion
Don’t exhaust or alienate your customers with poorly executed feedback opportunities. Invite your customers to provide feedback in the clearest and most efficient way. Otherwise, you are likely to cut yourself off from the customer voice which is, arguably, the most necessary ingredient for building your brand in today’s marketplace.
Feedback burnout is a real problem, and your survey design will, in many ways, determine whether or not respondents complete your survey. But the above strategies will improve your response rates, providing you with enough feedback that you can make sound customer service improvements.