6 Common Mistakes in Customer Satisfaction Surveys


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Wondering about the secret to creating effective and actionable customer satisfaction surveys?

More companies are turning to surveys to get a live pulse on the health of their customer base and redefine themselves as customer-experience driven. Yet the increase in survey popularity has bred common survey mistakes that companies fall prey to. If you steer clear of these survey pitfalls, however, your chances of creating a customer satisfaction survey that helps your bottom line and ensures a high response rate greatly increases.

Keeping your customers satisfied and engaged is not only important for loyalty and referrals, but also increases the likelihood they will expand their buying power with you. A study by Watermark Consulting shows that businesses with satisfied customers have better performing stocks over a six-year period than those with less satisfied customers. And a study by Cint suggests that consumers are more likely to purchase from a brand that has asked for their feedback.

Keeping in mind the importance of customer satisfaction surveys, here are six common mistakes you’ll want to avoid when creating your own.

Businesses with satisfied customers have higher performing stocks than businesses with less satisfied customers. (Credit: QuickTapSurvey)
Businesses with satisfied customers have higher performing stocks than businesses with less satisfied customers. (Credit: QuickTapSurvey)

No incentive

Customers are unlikely to give you something for nothing. Research shows a strong correlation between offering a survey incentive and the likelihood that customers will complete your survey. Provide an incentive such as a contest, giveaway or entrance into your loyalty program for completing your survey. Consider showing an image of a gift on the first screen of your survey and at the end of your survey get customers to fill in their email address for a chance to collect the prize.

Too many questions

This point can’t be stressed enough. One of the biggest challenges you will face with a customer satisfaction survey is getting enough responses for it to be statistically significant. There is nothing more demoralizing than spending time and resources creating a long and detailed survey only to have it answered by a tiny fraction of your customers, rendering it an inaccurate representation of your customer base.

Data shows that the number one reason customers won’t complete surveys is because they have too many questions. There is a direct correlation between survey length and survey abandonment rates. Surveys should rarely have more than seven questions, and depending on the nature of your business, you may be able to do with just three.

Leading questions

Survey questions should never be phrased in such a way that imply a positive bias. For example, “How much did you enjoy the service we provided today?” assumes that the customer had a positive experience. A more open-ended way of phrasing the question would be “Please rate your experience today” and include a scale or rating as part of the question.

No clear objective

Your survey should have an overarching theme that starts with general questions and gradually gets more specific. If you need feedback for a specific aspect of your business, stay on topic and screen out customers early on who have a lack of experience with that aspect of your business. The data you collect should provide actionable feedback that allows you to make changes to your operations. The more time you spend defining the focus of your survey, the greater ROI you will receive from your survey.

Unbranded and ugly surveys

If customers are going to take the time to fill out your survey, it’s important to remind them of who you are and why they should be doing you this favour. Inserting your logo in the survey tells customers they are filling out a survey for a reputable brand. Also remember to choose a digital survey tool that is aesthetically appealing, allows for large images, and customizable fonts and colours.

Forgetting to say “thank you” and explain survey purpose

Thanking customers for completing your survey may seem obvious, but it is often overlooked. It is also imperative that you inform customers about how their feedback will be used. Make customers feel emotionally invested, as though they are improving the product or service you are offering. Customers want to know you are acting on their suggestions, so consider adding an introductory message telling them exactly how you plan to use their feedback.

Can you think of other common mistakes to avoid in surveys? Share them in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.

Sources: Watermark Consulting, MyCustomer, Vovici, Cint


  1. This is a good start but there is nothing here on timing of feedback. There is almost no point in getting feedback after the event. The customer may have defected or worse, defected and complained on line. Hence feedback has to be actionable by being administered on the spot and committed to immediate follow through.

    Mobile technology with analysis allows this.

  2. That’s a great point, Matt. Getting feedback during the customer’s interaction with your product/service, or immediately after, is important for accuracy reasons as well. Customer’s rarely remember the details of their experience a few days later. This is why our survey tool (QuickTapSurvey) is intended to be used in person, eliminating the need for email surveys.


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