How to run a Customer Satisfaction Survey–Your Step-by-Step Guide

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Customer experience is especially critical in the digital age. Technology allows customers to share their experiences and opinions with a vast audience through online reviews, social media posts, and other digital platforms.

Find out everything you need to know about implementing and running an online customer satisfaction survey with our detailed guide, including sample questions and best practices

Online customer satisfaction surveys have gained increasing attention over the last decade as brands realize the power they have to inform and improve processes, enhance the customer experience, and increase conversions and sales. As an opportunity for brands to gain honest feedback from the customers they want to engage and retain, there are few tools that do the job better. 

However, if it’s your first time running a survey, you might be wondering where the best place is to start. You don’t want to make a mistake on a form that’s going to be sent to many of your valued customers, or accidentally bias data that’s needed to improve decision making. 

If you’re running a survey for the first time, then you’re in the right place. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll be walking you through everything you need to know about customer surveys and how to conduct one successfully. By the end, you’ll have the tips and tricks you need to engage your customers in the right way, and uncover the data and insights that are going to inform, guide, and improve your product or service.

Here’s a list of everything we’re going to cover in this post, so you can jump to the section that interests you the most. 

Ready to learn more? Then, let’s go!

What is an online customer satisfaction survey? 

A customer satisfaction survey is a tool used by marketers, businesses, and other organizations to find out how satisfied clients and customers are with the service or product on offer and how they feel about the brand overall. Customer satisfaction surveys can be distributed physically, but these days it’s more common for companies to utilize online survey distribution tools in order to reach wider audiences and target specific groups. Conducting surveys digitally also means users can fill them in comfortable and familiar settings.

A customer satisfaction survey usually consists of a range of questions. Some questions will be open-ended, requiring the user to provide details of their specific experience, while other questions might be closed, requiring simply a yes or no answer from the user. Other questions might use a scale, such as a Likert scale, that asks users to rate an experience using a number system. It’s important for companies to utilize all of these types of questions in order to gather both quantitative and qualitative data that they can draw insights from and use to improve their product or service.

Why are customer satisfaction surveys important?

Customer satisfaction surveys bring about a host of benefits for both users and businesses, from empowering the user to helping businesses increase conversions. Let’s take a look in more detail. 

Benefits to users of customer satisfaction surveys

Users feel empowered
A customer satisfaction survey gives the user a feeling of empowerment. This is because the survey provides users with an opportunity to express their opinions about a product or service to those who have the power to change and improve it. By offering users this opportunity, a company is giving users a sense of control over their experiences with them, which boosts the user-brand relationship and builds trust.

Users feel valued
By asking users how they feel and experience a product or service, users feel like their opinions matter and that the information they’re providing will be used to improve the company’s offering. When users feel valued and heard, they are more likely to return to a brand and recommend it to others.

Provides an opportunity to make an impact
Users can often feel quite passive in their interactions with big brands. Offering them the chance to provide feedback via a survey gives them an opportunity to make an impact and actively contribute to improvements. This leaves users more invested in a brand and in their relationship with it.

Benefits to businesses of customer satisfaction surveys 

Create better content
Using the insights from a customer satisfaction survey, brands can create content that better suits the needs of their users. Rather than making assumptions about what users want to know more about, survey insights provide brands with specific ideas of the content they need to create to answer user queries, help users solve their problems, and assist users in reaching their goals. An organization may also find that they’re inspired with many new content ideas when the results of their surveys come in.

Enhance design
A survey is a great way for a company to identify what’s working within their design and what’s not. By analyzing survey results, a designer can quickly determine where improvements in the design need to be made and how well the design is communicating key messages. If users aren’t picking up on the benefits of using the brand, the design needs adjusting ASAP! Luckily, with the right questions, survey results can provide the information the design team needs to make the design more appealing to their target users.

Increase conversions
With deep insights into user preferences, a website can be better designed to increase conversions. Maybe users can’t find the shopping cart, the pricing isn’t clear, or the advantages of the product aren’t clearly coming across. With the knowledge gained from gathering user insights, a brand can tailor their website to better meet user needs, in doing so bolstering conversions.

Develop your product roadmap
When developing a product roadmap a team should take into account the needs, behavior, and preferences of users to ensure its success. A customer satisfaction survey provides valuable insights and ideas into what customers like or dislike about a product, which will inform the product development team with the best ways to prioritize each element in the roadmap.

Identify patterns
Surveys produce hoards of data. Through the analysis of this data, UX design and product development teams can uncover useful patterns in user preferences, behavior, trends, and attitudes which they can use to better tailor their product or service to their users. Identifying patterns in user behavior can also be useful when teams are hoping to get buy-in from stakeholders to make bigger product or design decisions; by demonstrating the patterns in user behavior, stakeholders can clearly see common trends that need to be addressed.

Improve UX
Increasingly, user’s expect their experience of a digital or physical interaction to be both seamless and delightful, with each element they encounter assisting them as they try to reach their goals. By asking users specifically about their experience of a product or website, brands can then make the improvements needed to not only meet user expectations but to exceed them.

Increase repeat customers
When the data collected from a customer satisfaction survey is used to boost the user experience and tailor products to better meet user needs, users are not only more likely to make a purchase, they are likely to return to the brand and recommend it to friends. They may even become brand advocates; positively reviewing the brand on social media.

Determine in-house priorities
The results of a customer satisfaction survey enable teams to determine what needs to be tackled most urgently. Are the customers struggling to find what they’re looking for? Are the prices too high? The data collected will inform your in-house priorities and ensure the most important issues get addressed first.

Achieve product-market fit
Achieving product-market fit happens when a product or service's values match the needs of target customers. Collecting customer data via a customer satisfaction survey is therefore the ideal way to ensure a product is aligned with its customers. With this data, a brand can ensure customers buy, use, share, and evangelize about its products.

Types of customer satisfaction survey metrics

Companies who create customer satisfaction surveys need to consider how they want to measure the data they are going to collect. Here are some of the most popular customer satisfaction survey metrics to bear in mind. 

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) 

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a simple metric that is used by brands to gain an understanding of customer loyalty and satisfaction with their product or service. It’s calculated by asking just one question:

“On a scale from 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this product/company to a friend or colleague?”

Users are then grouped into “detractors” (those who answer with 6 or lower), “passives” (those who answer with 7 or 8) and “promoters”, (those who answer with 9 or 10).

Promoters are typically very satisfied customers who could potentially act as brand ambassadors.

Passives are typically fairly satisfied customers who are unlikely to recommend a brand but are also unlikely to seek to damage it with negative reviews. They are also close to becoming promoters.

Detractors are unlikely to become repeat customers or to recommend the brand to friends. They could potentially discourage others from engaging with the brand.

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

CSAT, or customer satisfaction score, is another popular metric used by brands to find out how satisfied their customers are with their offerings. A CSAT survey will ask customers how satisfied they are with different elements of the product, service, or process, with users given the option to reply with “Very unsatisfied”, “Unsatisfied”, “Neutral”, “Satisfied”, and “Very Satisfied.”  To calculate the CSAT, a company will take the number of satisfied customers (those who gave a rating of “Satisfied” or “Very Satisfied”) and divide these by the total number of answers.

Customer Effort Score (CES)

The Customer Effort Score is a metric for measuring customer satisfaction that specifically measures how much effort customers put into their interactions with a brand or business. A common question in a customer effort score survey might be: “To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following: Checkbox made it easy for me to create my survey.” Users then choose a number from 1 to 10 to indicate their agreement or disagreement.

Which metric is right for you? 

It’s important to bear in mind that different metrics suit different business needs. Are you interested in knowing the effort your customers are making when interacting with your product? If so, then the CES score is probably the appropriate score for your survey. If you are more concerned with general customer satisfaction with all aspects of a product, then the CSAT is more likely to meet your needs. Finally, if you’d like to know which percentage of your customers are brand evangelists, passive, or actively against your brand, then the Net Promoter Score will provide you with an overview of customer reactions to your product or services.

Types of online customer satisfaction survey questions  

Let’s dive a little deeper into the question formats used on customer satisfaction surveys and the value found in each. 

Open and closed questions 

The questions a company uses in their customer satisfaction survey will depend on the type of data they would like to collect.

A closed question on a survey or questionnaire might look like this: 

“Would you recommend this product to a friend or family member? Yes / No ” 

While an open question on the same questionnaire might look like this: 

“Please explain how you felt when you first saw the image on the homepage.” 

Closed questions are great for collecting quantitative data; this is data that can be easily measured, tracked, and compared. Open questions, on the other hand, are more suited to the collection of qualitative data; this type of data provides valuable insights into a customer’s experience with a brand as well as giving the team useful anecdotal evidence which can support quantitative findings.

A survey can consist of all closed questions, all open questions, or a mixture of the two. In our experience, a combination of the two gives a company the clearest picture of customer satisfaction. Although restricting your survey to just closed questions can make it easier for a team to draw quick conclusions about what needs to be improved, this type of survey can leave customers feeling as though their opinions aren’t fully heard. It’s important to provide a space for customer opinions and thoughts, even if that is just an open question at the end of the survey asking for further feedback. 


Multiple choice questions

Multiple choice questions are a type of closed question format worth considering in your survey. Multiple choice questions typically ask the user a question before giving them a number of pre-written answers to choose from. The user then chooses the answer which best represents their own opinion. While surveys which ask multiple choice questions provide a team with measurable, trackable, and comparable quantitative data, they also provide users with more options, and more freedom to express themselves, than a simple yes or no answer.

Scale questions 

Scale questions are popular for surveys as they provide valuable quantitative data while still offering the user nuance in how they answer. A Likert scale is a commonly-used scale used in surveys. A typical question might be:

“On a scale of 1 to 10, how much did you enjoy interacting with the new feature? 1 = not at all, 10 = a lot”  

Examples of online customer satisfaction survey questions 

Your questions will depend very much on the data you are hoping to extract from your customers and the type of product or service you have to offer. To give you some inspiration when getting started, here are some typical customer satisfaction survey questions that can be tweaked or adjusted to fit your needs. 

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied were you with your experience of our product/service today?       
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our product/service to friends or family? 
  • How would you rate your satisfaction with our team today? 
  • Do you agree or disagree that the issue you were trying to resolve was efficiently dealt with by our team? 
  • How likely are you to return to our store/website? 
  • In your own words, describe how you feel about our brand.
  • What could we improve your experience with our company? 
  • Which is your favorite tool or feature on our website? 
  • Were you able to achieve what you set out to do today?

How to create an online customer satisfaction survey–a step-by-step guide  

Now that you’ve got a good understanding of the value of a customer satisfaction survey and the benefits of distributing one, it’s time to find out how to go about running one, from defining your objectives to how to action your findings.

Define your objectives

The first step to creating any survey, and in particular a customer satisfaction survey, is to define your goals for the project. Do you want to know about the customer’s experience with a particular product or service, or are you interested in getting to know their overall impression of the brand? Once you’ve defined what you want to get out of it, you’re in a better position to compose your questions and find your target survey respondents.

Decide on your metrics

The metrics you choose will determine the style of questions you ask and the data you collect. Are you looking to collect anecdotal evidence, statistics, or a mixture of the two? The answer to this question will inform which metric best suits your needs.

Create your questions

Your next step is to create your questions. Try to keep the language brief, jargon-free, and specific. You’ll also want to keep your questions as neutral as possible to avoid influencing your customers’ answers. This will ensure you get the most accurate data from your survey. As we’ve discussed, consider using a mixture of closed and open questions in order to give customers a chance to air their views.

Choose a survey provider

When choosing your online survey provider you’ll want to find a service that makes the writing, distribution, and analysis as seamless as possible. Built–in features to look out for include an easy-to-use editor, branding assistance, analytics tools, hosting support, and security features.

Send survey out to relevant channels 

Customer satisfaction surveys are typically distributed via a website, email, or social media. Let’s take a look at each option.

Website

A popular choice for companies, particularly those with a strong digital presence, is to embed their survey on the landing pages of their website. This can be a great way to ensure the customer experience is still fresh in the mind of survey participants and for your team to get accurate data on specific website elements. 

Email 

With email often being the most popular method used by companies for communicating with their customers, it makes sense that it’s also frequently used for survey distribution. Users are used to interacting with brands this way and brands can both automate and personalize their email output. 

Social media 

Social media allows for broader audience engagement as surveys distributed via this method can be filled out by anybody, not just targeted individuals. Another bonus is the shareability of social media surveys, which can further increase the number of participants.

Post-survey steps

Once the survey has been sent out, the real work starts! Let’s take a look at how best to follow up, analyze data, and turn feedback into actionable steps. 


Follow up and say thanks
It’s important to acknowledge the effort your customers have made in completing your survey. Sending a simple email to say "thank you" will go a long way towards reinforcing the brand-customer relationship and will also give you an opportunity to link back to your product pages or app. You might want to consider sharing the results of the survey with your customers too; many people will be interested to know what the conclusions of the survey were and the next steps you’ll be taking as a result of collecting customer insights.

Analyze data
Once you’ve collected all the completed surveys, you’ll be ready to dig into the data to uncover valuable insights and patterns in customer attitudes and behavior. Are many customers experiencing the same problem? Have you found trends in customer preferences which you were previously unaware of? Compile your data into a spreadsheet and, where patterns emerge, create graphs to demonstrate the common trends, behavior, and attitudes.

Action feedback
Using the learnings you’ve uncovered from the results of your survey, your next step will be turning these insights into actionable steps for improvement. Prioritize tasks based on what is most pressing for customers, not what you think needs tackling first and, with a focus on these priorities, write a list of short and long term changes that need to be made to better improve the customer experience with your brand.

Regularly repeat the survey
With customer needs and expectations constantly evolving, not to mention general trends in user behavior and expectations fluctuating over time, it’s safe to say that one survey is not going to be enough to give you all the information you need to keep your customers happy. Consider regularly repeating your survey to ensure you stay ahead of what customers want and need from your products or service, and to demonstrate that your company is actively interested in the values of its users.

Best practices for conducting an online customer satisfaction survey 

Looking for some final tips and pieces of wisdom on how to create the most effective customer satisfaction surveys? Then look no further. Here are our best practices. 

Keep your survey short

Your goal when writing your survey questions is to keep them short and to the point. Spend time thinking about how you can ask a question in the shortest and most concise way possible, without confusing the user or influencing outcomes. You’ll want to keep the overall survey length short, too, in order to keep abandon rates as low as possible. 

Avoid jargon 

You may be used to using certain industry terminology within your team. However, your users may be put off or confused if you use terminology or jargon they’re unfamiliar with. Try instead to use language that is accessible to everyone, irrespective of their experience or background. 

Keep your objectives in mind 

When crafting your questions, it’s important to remind yourself of what your end goal is and to cut any questions which are not going to assist you in reaching it. Questions which aren’t helping you achieve your objectives are only lengthening the time commitment required from users, and, as we know, the longer the survey, the more likely it is for users to abandon it before completing it. 

Use a consistent rating system 

Where possible, stick to one rating system or scale for users to use when answering the questions in your survey. Using more than one will only confuse users and could also interfere with the accuracy of the data you collect. 

Avoid loaded questions

It can be easy to write slightly biased or loaded questions when crafting your survey when pride in your product or service takes over from the desire to collect accurate results. Don’t let this common pitfall happen to you. Biased questions not only lead to inaccurate results, they can also irritate users who may then choose to abandon the survey completely. 

Take advantage of closed questions 

As we’ve seen, there are numerous advantages to using closed questions in your surveys. As a way to gather quantitative data, closed questions are an efficient and to-the-point method. With this data, you’ll be able to measure, compare, and track your customer’s views. 

Mix different types of questions 

Mixing closed and open questions with multiple choice and scale questions keeps the survey varied for participants, provides them with an opportunity to share their opinions, and results in both quantitative and qualitative data for you to analyze. If you do mix different question styles, be sure your questions are clearly and concisely written with consistent rating scales. 

Consider your timing

Have you done your research on when is the best time to send out your survey? Studies have shown that Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays are typically the days on which you’ll get the highest response rates to your survey, while before 10am and around 2pm are the optimal times during the day to send them out. 

Incentivize survey respondents

It’s worth considering incentivizing your survey respondents to increase the chances of your surveys being responded to. Typical incentives include gift vouchers and coupons, while some companies offer charity donations on behalf of respondents. It’s been found that surveys are 30% more likely to be returned when a company offers an incentive. 

Use customer feedback to create change

When the results of your survey are in it’s important that the work doesn’t end there. Make sure you use what you’ve learned during your research to implement positive changes for customers. You can then report back to customers on how you’ve responded to their feedback. 

Consider using creative surveys 

Creative surveys, which seek to ask users questions in more innovative and engaging ways, have been found to increase survey completion rates and bolster the relationship between customer and brand. This type of survey is worth exploring if you’re looking for new ways to capture and hold your users’ attention.

Conclusion 

We hope you’ve enjoyed this detailed rundown of how to create and run a customer satisfaction survey. If you’d like to learn more about creating a customer satisfaction survey to enhance your customers’ or clients’ experiences with your product, boost your conversion rates, and improve processes, check out Checkbox’s customer satisfaction survey template now. 

Published
December 5, 2022
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