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How to write a great client satisfaction survey

Krunch Team


We’re all about helping companies develop relationships with their customers, so we’d be a bit amiss if we didn’t check in with our own people sometimes. When we created our new Krunch Partner Satisfaction Survey, we decided to do it the way do everything else: We did our research, gathered the data, and built a survey we’d like to take ourselves.


If you’re interested in a bit of the science behind how we crafted it, we’ve collated the stats, studies and expert opinions we used and are sharing them here in the hope that you’ll gain some insights and inspiration for polling your own customers.

1. Set an objective Setting an objective helps you focus on what’s important – and what’s not. Wellington-based consultancy Customer Voice advises: “set your objectives clearly, then work backwards to determine the data you need to gather to achieve them”. And once you’ve set an objective, tell people what it is. The Secrets to High Customer Satisfaction explains why: “When people sense your purpose, they’ll see the survey as a worthwhile exercise, and not only will they respond, they’ll respond well.”

2. Keep language simple According to Nielson, people don’t read. Okay, slightly misleading, but we edited for brevity cos 84% of people just pick out key words when reading online. Moral of the web-dwelling story: Keep. It. Simple.

3. Keep it short A big, important survey on customer surveys done by Backor, Golde and Nie found “participant fatigue grows towards the end of a long questionnaire, as evidenced by numerous studies”. To which anyone who has ever attempted to complete one of these long questionnaires would reply “no kidding”. A study on abandonment rates by survey software company Vovici gets more specific, reporting that people really began to leave their survey hanging after 25 questions, with 5-10 questions being the optimum for engagement.

4. Tell people it’s short It’s important to communicate how long the survey will take at the start of the survey, says Wellington customer feedback consultancy, Customer Voice. “If it’s a short survey, that’s a great point to emphasise”. Prue Street from Auckland consultancy, Buzz Channel, agrees: “It’s vital not to turn people off with long drawn-out question sets.” Vital, as in 52 percent of respondents in a recent Opinion Lab study said they would not spend more than three minutes filling out a survey.

5. Make it easy “Make participation convenient, easy – even fun – by ensuring your survey can be completed any time, on any device, without overburdening people,” says Buzz Channel’s Prue Street. The “on any device” bit is key. A 2013 GreenBook study found 19% of all online surveys globally are taken on a mobile device.

6. Put the easy questions first A joint study by Gallop and Zoomerang of over 20,000 surveys found that shunting your easy questions to the front made people more likely to answer more complex ones later on.

7. Leave text boxes for the end The Gallop/Zoomerang study found it’s best to use yes/no or rateable questions where possible – but open-ended ones have their place too. And that place is at the end: “It’s best to take on brief questions first to create a sense of progress”. But also: “Give survey takers who’ve made it to the end a chance to elaborate on their thoughts.”

8. Use a (fair) rating system Client Heartbeat advise using a rateable survey system in The Secrets to High Customer Satisfaction, saying doing so can dramatically increase your response rates. But not all rating systems are designed equally. In fact, some, as in the example below, are designed distinctly unequally:

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 – poor / average / good / very good / great / excellent

Make sure you have equal options for your customers to express their dissatisfaction as well as their satisfaction. And, while you’re at it, stay away from leading questions such as “how great do you think we are at [insert irrelevantly-placed brag]”.

9. Say “Thank You” We don’t want to sound like your mum, so we’ll let Survey Monkey do it instead. They believe that adding a thank you page to your survey is not only a great way to show your appreciation, it’s also important in letting respondents know their answers have “gone through”. Cos putting people through a survey, then not letting them know they’re through it, is not very brand endearing is it?

10. And last, but not least, have fun “I’m over getting grey, bureaucratic, well-meaning, politically-correct comms from everyone,” says Krunch Head of Media Martin Gillman.

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