5 Customer Satisfaction Survey Mistakes

A well-designed customer satisfaction survey can provide your organisation with essential insight that will help you compete in today’s competitive market. By listening and acting on feedback you can improve your customer UX which will increase referrals and keep consumers coming back for more.

Customer satisfaction survey
How to avoid customer satisfaction survey mistakes

Top 4 reasons to conduct a customer satisfaction survey

  • To identify problems and manage customer expectations
  • To keep up-to-date with consumer preferences
  • To focus on customer-centricity and two-way communication
  • To nurture brand loyalty

When designing a customer satisfaction survey, there are pitfalls which can prevent questionnaires from achieving their purpose. Below is a list of the 5 most common mistakes related to the preparation and timing of surveys designed to find out satisfaction levels with products and services.

5 customer satisfaction survey mistakes and how to avoid making them

#1. Making the survey too long

As you might guess, the number of questions in your survey can lead to respondents giving you misleading information. If the number of questions is too small or, on the contrary, the list of questions is too long you may not get reliable results. On the one hand, respondents’ time is valuable so they would be discouraged by long sets of questions; on the other hand, including too few questions means that the feedback obtained will be insufficient. Experts on survey design recommend that the optimal number of questions is 10 to 15.

#2. Incomplete answers

Another common type of customer satisfaction survey mistake is related to the room provided for customers to add their comments in open-ended questions. To collect qualitative feedback you can use a textbox question. You can choose between single or multiple textboxes or a matrix of textboxes so that respondents can enter text answers to rows and columns. You can add an “Other” answer option to a multiple choice question, allowing them to enter their own choice of answer. It is recommended that you use a selection of open-ended and close-ended questions in your surveys and develop a strategy for the use of textbox questions in a structured survey.

#3. Ignoring unhappy customers

Customer satisfaction surveys should not just be aimed at repeat customers who are likely to be pleased with the products or services offered. To avoid getting an unrealistic picture of overall satisfaction you should survey all customers, not just happy customers. To obtain a more complete picture dissatisfied customers, who leave after one purchase and don’t come back, should also be surveyed. Asking unhappy customers the reasons for their dissatisfaction is a crucial component of understanding where and how to improve your business.

#4. Choosing the wrong time to send surveys

Choosing the wrong time to send surveys is one of the most frequent mistakes when sending a customer satisfaction survey. Sending surveys first thing on a Monday morning or at weekends can mean they get overlooked which leads to low response rates. Furthermore, if your target audience is in a particular business or industry sector that has a peak season or busy periods, you should avoid sending surveys during these times as they will most likely not be given sufficient time or attention. There are many differences between B2B and B2C and the best approach is to A/B test your surveys to find the optimum time to send them. Monday’s can be better for B2B and Sundays should be avoided for B2C but don’t forget that other factors such as subject line and branding can influence open rates as well.

#5. Asking more than one thing per question

To avoid collecting unreliable date make your questions clear and easy to understand. A helpful tip is to avoid asking a double-barrelled question that touches on more than one issue but only allows for one answer. It is one of the most frequent mistakes when designing a survey. For example, “How often and how much time do you spend shopping during the week?” This question should be split into two separate questions – “how often do you shop” and “how long do you spend shopping” so that you receive accurate data in your results.

Avoiding the customer satisfaction survey mistakes listed above will help you collect the data needed to make insightful decisions to improve your business. Customer feedback surveys are a traditional part of the marketing kit and one of the most affordable ways to gather data and are practical to use. Advantages of sending a well-designed online customer satisfaction survey include;

  • Fast results that can be acted on immediately
  • Extensive reach, enabling you to gather data from large audiences
  • Advanced reporting features, allowing for easy analysis of results
  • User anonymity and privacy
  • No time pressure as respondents can answer when convenient

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in September 2012 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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