Is your survey design holding back your customers' feedback?

3 minute read

It’s a known issue and the bugbear of many a CX or Insight professional. Businesses value feedback; it helps attract and retain both customers and employees alike. But as customers, or feedback givers, we become less interested. Typical sentiments along the lines of, “I’ve got what I need,” “sorry, no time!” or “I don’t believe my opinion will make a difference” all yield the same result – we don’t bother giving feedback. In short, businesses care about feedback, customers don’t. 

5 survey design tips that will help when going about the business of capturing feedback.

All is not lost you'll be pleased to know. Careful consideration of the construction and design of your survey can yield fantastic results.

1. Listening comes first

Most importantly, put the feedback giver at the heart of the whole process. Seems obvious, but we (as businesses) are prone to lose sight of this fundamental tenet. We can get so wrapped up in what we want to know, what we have to ask, that our focus creeps back to the ‘asking’ … not the ‘listening.’ This article’s title kind of sums this up I guess. A 20-question drill-down survey into your new branding options, you say? Ooh, yes please! A 3-pager questionnaire on how well I find my working environment meets the new health and safety policy? Why didn’t you say – I’ll clear my diary for the morning and jump on it? Take your 5-minute survey about my 5-minute taxi ride ten days ago? Thank goodness you emailed me...

2. Get out the way

Think about where, when and how you are asking and then match your feedback approach. It needs to be appropriate to the environment. If asking for in-the-moment feedback whilst your customer is physically there, then how much time will they have? Is the location busy? Will they feel comfortable giving the feedback? These kind of simple ‘in their shoes’ questions will really help overcome low response rates.

3. Avoid leading questions / answers

Limited response options can frustrate. An irrelevant survey can ‘cul-de-sac’ a feedback customer’s experience. This can be as frustrating (and therefore damaging) as not offering a feedback opportunity at all. A final ‘anything else?’ question is a great catch-all, even for very specific capture environments. You want to be all ears, right?

4. Start warmly and accessibly

For in-the-moment surveys, begin with something engaging and eye-catching. Perhaps visual, such as an overall ‘smiley-face’ rating? Keep your questions and answer options short – you’ve got a nano-second, not only to catch attention but also to make sense.

5. Stay attentive

The biggest barrier is the initial engagement bit. Once people have started their feedback journey, as long as there is a nice flow to the questions, people will keep going, but make sure they have their expectations managed – if they start wondering ‘how long is this going to take?’ one wrong-footing question and you’ve lost them. Routing questions according to preceding answers is a great way to keep the survey relevant.


These are just a few tips to help close the gap between business need and customer apathy when it comes to feedback. If we ask for less, they will care more, and ultimately you'll find out  more…



Further reading

Continuous customer feedback can be a powerful and effective tool, that alerts you to peaks or dips in service

  • Monitor the impact of external factors with time stamped data
  • Provide rich data
  • Build loyalty
  • Support continuous improvement programmes

Download quick guide for continuous in the moment feedback


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Written by James Collinson

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