5 Ways to Create a CX Survey You Would Take Yourself


Share on LinkedIn

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Upton Sinclair is reported to have said: “It is difficult to get someone to understand something when their salary depends on them not understanding it.” The same could be said about people in the CX industry, which is built upon the sacred notion that “customer surveys drive invaluable insights, so we must do more of them, and do them more often.”

But what if more surveys aren’t the answer? If we’re honest with ourselves, we may already know what we need to about our customers (although these insights may be hosted in numerous disparate places across the organization, but that’s another problem for another column). What if, instead of thinking about doing surveys on our terms, we looked at surveys through the lens of the respondent? We’ve all taken surveys ourselves (or, more importantly NOT taken them); what can we as researchers do that would make us take our own survey?

Here are 5 common reasons your CX survey aren’t as effective as they could be, and how to fix that.

Problem: Low/Non-Response Rates Too High. Stuck in a rut with response rates that disappoint?
Solution: Survey On The Customer’s Terms. Pick the right mode for the circumstances (e.g. email invitation, in-store kiosk, SMS or even an always-on feedback tab on the website). Approaches such as invitation by SMS can improve response rates by 300%. Consider the effort needed by the customer to both receive the invitation and complete the survey, don’t just depend on the approach used by the survey company.

Problem: Drop Off/Incompletes Rates Too High. Customers are dropping off because you are asking too many demographic/customer profile questions.
Solution: Ask Only Unknowns. It can be difficult to get all the data you need from other departments, but a focus on the customer means you don’t ask them to answer questions where you should already know the answer. Minimize the customers’ efforts to provide information such as transaction details, locations and loyalty levels.

Problem: Haste Makes Waste. Customers rush through without thinking, or hit the same rating just to get to the incentive and your data is skewed or useless.
Solution: Include a Check Question. If you have to use a longer survey, include a check question that makes certain the customer is reading the questions for which they are providing responses. It can be as simple as “Select 7 for this question” or ask them to answer the same question that was asked earlier to see if the same response is provided.

Problem: Get Past the Start Gate. Maybe your most valuable customers don’t even bother to start a survey because they’ve been burned.
Solution: Email-Embed Question. Put the overall rating, whether NPS or CSAT, into the body of the invitation to make it easy for them to respond. Then ask their permission to ask any other questions.

Problem: Time Constrained Customers. Despite our efforts to make surveys shorter, many if not most are still too long.
Solution: Smarter Surveys. Use tools like NPS+ and connectivity to CRM/databases to make a smart, and short regular transaction survey. Use relationship surveys to capture more detailed information about your customer with an incentive.

With planning that includes the customers’ perspective, you can build better surveys that get better response rates and more reliable data. While the survey will always be a part of understanding the customer, our goal as researchers should be to use the hard data contained in our systems within the organization first, then use the survey to fill in the gaps. In a sense, imagine the world without any surveys, then decide what vital information does not sit within the company walls, and use only that for your surveys.

Ken Peterson
Ken Peterson has over two decades of experience in the marketing research, retail, technology, hospitality and transportation industries with a recent focus on Big Data Business Insights, and SaaS deployments. This ties in with his long history of P&L responsibility and detailed understanding of improving business operations. He has had the privilege of helping clients in retail, hospitality, technology, travel, sports and media better understand how to make use of the vast quantities of data that is now available, but often underutilized and misinterpreted. He enjoys delivering relevant insig


  1. Hey Ken,

    Great points. I would also add a few others. First, try to figure out the Whats-in-for-them. Some appeal, promise, or better yet…reciprocity for their time. Second, use it as an opportunity to build relationships. AirBnB has used their rating system to great effect as a (usually) fair arbiter of truth that can be used to build relationships . Finally, sometimes the customer isn’t the right person to ask. People lie about their age, income, and all kinds of stuff. There are MOUNDS of FREE data out there from the US CEnsus down to the census track on all kinds of stuff. Third party data integration is overlooked far too often.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here