Improving the Quality of Your Survey Design and Analysis


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Survey design can be a tricky skill to master. The difference between a high and low-quality survey can affect your response rate, data analysis capabilities and your customers’ ability to respond thoughtfully. The design tips below will help you to get the most out of your survey so you can gain the greatest amount of insight from your customers.

1. Stay on topic

You may feel that since you have the opportunity to survey your customers you should ask them everything that you want to know about. Or specific departments might be coming to you asking you to include questions relating to what they are working on. You should do your absolute best to avoid this. Keep your survey on topic. This not only helps with the length, but the survey should serve a specific purpose or goal and not stray. If it is a customer experience or satisfaction survey don’t ask about marketing or product development unless it is entirely relevant. Your customer is essentially doing your business a favour by responding to your survey, so you should make it topical and easy for them so they understand why they are responding.

2. Make it short

This refers to both the number of questions in the survey and the amount of time required to complete it. Having surveys that are too long affects the quality and quantity of your responses. Filling out a long survey will be an arduous task for your customers, and many will choose not to finish it or not give a lot of thought to their answers. If your questions are simple and to the point, they will be easier to answer and take less time.

3. Integrate where possible

An important rule of thumb in survey design is to never ask your customers questions you already have the answer to. The information you have in your CRM, POS or other IT systems should be integrated into your survey tool so that you don’t need to ask your customers about their contact information, demographics or purchase history. You want to gain as much insight from your customer responses as possible and you want to make the survey quick and easy for them to complete. The level of integration shows the difference between sophisticated and amateur survey design. The more data you integrate, the more robust your data analysis can be.

4. Provide scaled response options

For the best quality data you can get from your survey responses, you should avoid asking your customers Yes/No or True/False questions. You want to extract as much insight from them as possible and with single-sided answers, you do not allow for any complexity or nuance to the answers. It is better to provide answer options that are scaled. Rather than asking “Did you enjoy your experience?” which is a Yes/No question, ask “How much did you enjoy your experience?” and give your customers a 0-10 scale to choose from or options such as “Not at all, slightly, moderately, very, extremely.” From this, you can extrapolate much more interesting data.

5. Incentivise

High quality data requires a high quantity of survey responses. One of the best and easiest ways to improve your response rate is to incentivise your customers to participate. Note we don’t recommend this for all scenarios, but sometimes offering a potential prize, discount or perk to your customers will make them pay greater attention to your survey and take the time to complete it. While some businesses may offer 5-star luxury vacations as an incentive, there is no need to offer anything so grand. Simple incentives work just as well to draw your customers to your survey and have a positive impact on your response rate. This will allow you to perform a meaningful and robust analysis of your data.

Sarah-Nicole LeFlore
Sarah-Nicole "Nikki" is a Customer Success Manager at CX Index, a Dublin-based Voice of the Customer (VOC) Vendor. She contributes her insights on the many benefits of prioritising customer experience to the CX Index blog. She is currently based in London but has lived in New York, Dublin and Paris. She has a B.A. from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT and an MSc from Trinity College Dublin.


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