8 Rules for Writing a Not-Awful Survey

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Writing a good survey isn’t hard, but there are some gotchas if you’ve never done it before. Here are a few rules of thumb to help avoid the biggest mistakes:

  1. Keep the survey short:
    • Phone interviews should be under 5 minutes
    • Online surveys should fit on a single screen without scrolling
    • IVR surveys should be 5 questions or fewer
  2. Keep the questions short and use simple language. Avoid jargon or brand names, since there’s a good chance customers won’t recognize them.
  3. Always begin by asking the customer to rate the company as a whole, even if that’s not what the survey is about. This gives customers who have a problem with the company a chance to get it off their chest so they won’t penalize the representative.
  4. Put the most important questions (usually your tracking metrics) near the beginning. That way they are less likely to be biased by other questions and more likely to be answered.
  5. Be as consistent as possible with your rating scale. For example, don’t switch from a 0-10 scale to a 1-5 scale.
  6. In the U.S., it’s conventional for higher numbers to be better. Don’t make “1” best and “10” worst as it’s likely to confuse people. (This rule may differ in other cultures).
  7. Always have at least one free response question.
  8. Plan on making regular changes to the survey. You won’t get it perfect the first try.

Following these rules won’t necessarily give you a great survey, but breaking these rules will almost always make it worse.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Peter Leppik
Peter U. Leppik is president and CEO of Vocalabs. He founded Vocal Laboratories Inc. in 2001 to apply scientific principles of data collection and analysis to the problem of improving customer service. Leppik has led efforts to measure, compare and publish customer service quality through third party, independent research. At Vocalabs, Leppik has assembled a team of professionals with deep expertise in survey methodology, data communications and data visualization to provide clients with best-in-class tools for improving customer service through real-time customer feedback.

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