Survey road map: What will you ask?

Increase your survey’s response rate by asking the right questions.

You’ve pinpointed customers based on demographics and data. You’ve created your ideal customer. Now you’re ready to finalize your survey questions. What will you ask your sample group?

First, remember that customers come into your survey blind. They don’t necessarily know exactly what to expect as survey recipients. Therefore, it’s important to create questions that your customers will be able to answer easily and effectively.

For example, a professional service organization mulled over whether to offer guidance on a certain pressing topic to its customers. Would customers prefer to review lessons online or download an app? Or, would they rather receive a textbook? The membership organization decided to survey these customers, hoping to ascertain learning behaviors and technology preferences. They narrowed the market, and then sent emails. But, did they ask the right questions?

Well, they asked open-ended questions like “What do you need from us?” or “What product can we create?”

These were the exact questions they wanted answered. The problem? The customers did not have enough knowledge about the problems mentioned to offer high-quality responses. Rather than receiving helpful feedback, this resulted in the customers
feeling overwhelmed and unable to respond accordingly.

How to ask your questions?

Instead of using open-ended questions, it’s often best to ask leading questions, demanding a response. Multiple-choice answers or ranking scales are quick for the customer to fill out and easier to analyze on your end. Open-ended questions often work as a sounding board at the end of a more structured survey. They provide a forum for happy or upset customers, with anecdotal responses that can help you as a business owner by potentially offering you authentic customer testimonials.

Occasionally, you’ll get the response that’s wonderfully off-the-wall – or so illuminating that it begins your thought process. However, the customer’s light bulb won’t always go off just based on open-ended questions. As a rule, they work much better at the close of a survey, after your customer has given targeted, structured responses that you can use to develop trends.

Remember, with a survey, you’re hoping for a baseline of data in return. The anecdotal responses from out of nowhere aren’t the goal, quality insights are…so we encourage you to enjoy the anecdotal responses simply as icing on the cake.

Key takeaways

  • Use leading questions and multiple-choice questions.
  • Keep open-ended questions to a minimum and avoid making these the focus of your survey. When creating your survey questions, be sensitive to of your customers’ time.
  • You’re searching for a baseline of comparable responses, open-ended anecdotes are icing on the cake.

Up next: How will they receive your survey?


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