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Hardly any company can survive these days without customer surveys. Without knowing what customers’ opinions are about a business, chances are the business will lose out to competitors and struggle to improve. Competition has never been as intense as it is now, so it is vital to keep ahead of the trends, choose carefully which products to develop, where there are gaps in the market and eliminate any issues that customers may have had when doing business with your company. All this will not only help increase customer satisfaction, but it will also help with your brand’s marketing efforts.

Being able to quote a happy customer from a survey or to announce that the latest survey revealed 85% customer satisfaction makes for positive publicity and might convince new customers checking out the business’s website that they should try out your products or services. In a wider sense, improving customer satisfaction through the knowledge gained from surveys can even lead to better customer reviews, which are so important in online marketing, because a larger amount of satisfied customers will proportionally increase the amount of customers who are happy to leave a positive review. Now, how can all these effects best be achieved through a survey? Here’s our ultimate guide!

How to Gather Insightful Data

Whether you get useful data for your company market research out of your survey that will help you improve and market your brand depends on how effective the questionnaire is that is sent out to your customers. If, for example, the questions asked are unclear, the customer might misunderstand the question or reply in a way that doesn’t give clear indication of what their actual opinion is. When asked, ‘Was your enjoyment of your recent shopping experience influenced by anything?’ they might think you’re asking if they were referred to your shop, or whether there were any problems. Since the term ‘influenced’ does not specify whether they were negatively or positively influenced, they don’t know which type of influence you would like to hear more about. If you would like to hear about both types, they still might just read the question one way and omit answering half of the question.

This is also why writing clear questions means only ever asking one specific thing. If you ask them, ‘Did you enjoy our customer service and our products?’ they might say ‘no’ if they hated the customer service, even if they enjoyed the product, so your data collected from this would make you none the wiser. A good question for a consumer survey would ask instead only about one of these things at a time.

Another concern when constructing a survey are rating scales. If you ask a customer to rate a certain aspect of your business with a number, this will only result in useful data if several conditions are met. Firstly, the scale needs to be easily understandable for the customer to guarantee that their choice actually represents their opinion. Secondly, the scale needs to have enough options to select so that it is visible if a customer feels very strongly about a certain issue, or perhaps only feels, say, neutral or slightly negative about it. There also shouldn’t be too many options to choose from, however, because this will only complicate matters and end up taking the customer an unnecessary amount of time. However many options you choose, though, you should use the same rating system throughout, because this makes filling in the questionnaire much easier and therefore raises the chances of you getting accurate data, as well as making it easier to interpret for you afterwards.

In short:

  • Consider all possible ways to understand questions
  • Check implications of the words used
  • Make sure to ask about only one specific issue in each question
  • Only ask relevant questions
  • Make sure your rating system is consistent
  • Use both multiple choice and open questions
  • Keep the questionnaire as short as possible.


How to Get People to Take Part

Now that you’ve got a cracking questionnaire, all you need are some customers who are eager to answer it honestly. Of course, dishonest answers can distort the data in your customer satisfaction survey, but while this is difficult to prevent or determine, there are other issues which can be caused by the population you are examining, i.e. the group of customers giving feedback. It is important to understand these issues first, in order to prevent them.

Firstly, if your business survey only attracts a very small group of people, it can be difficult to extrapolate from the data or gain any valuable insight from it. For the data to be representative of the majority of your customers, you will need a significant amount of participants. The more participants you have, the more accurate your data will be, which means you can also make safer predictions for the future of your business and its market’s developments.

Secondly, your consumer survey will need data from people with as many different backgrounds, genders, ages and interests as you can get. Imagine only getting feedback from male customers in their 50s with a high income. In this instance, you will have no idea how you could improve your products to cater to female customers, or how well products designed specifically for female customers were received by them. Your business might focus on a specific age range or gender, but getting data from customers who might only have shopped casually with you, because they are not in your target demographic, could help you expand your customer base when you find out what they might want from your business in order to become loyal customers. Apart from this, having a wider demographic answering your questions will allow you to improve your products or services in those areas which might be important to customers with different interests or spending habits. This will also allow you to understand their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with different aspects of your brand better.

All in all, it comes down to getting as many people to take part in your customer survey as you can. You could advertise the survey in your email newsletter, on social media or on your website, but this will not necessarily mean that the majority of people who see this will take part. Of course, spreading the word about it is important, but even when sending it to customers every time they purchase something, to ensure the information goes to the relevant people, does not always guarantee they will sacrifice their valuable time and effort just to help your business improve. It is likely that you will only get feedback from those people who have felt very strongly about their purchase, especially when they felt negative and needed to vent their frustrations somewhere. This again could distort your data when in fact, for example, 50% of your customers were reasonably satisfied with their purchase but didn’t feel the urge to voice this.

The solution to this problem is to make the survey worth your customers’ time and effort and to show them that these resources are precious to you as much as they are to them. Now, there is the possibility of offering online surveys for money, where the respondent simply gets paid for their time. Paid surveys are much more likely to gather more responses, and these responses are usually motivated to be helpful more so than unrewarded responses. Of course, there is the disadvantage of the arising cost for the business and whether this will be made up by sales from improved services. However, this problem can easily be fixed, by offering a reward for your survey which builds customer loyalty, and increases sales at the same time. These rewards can include discounts on future purchases, freebies, or gift cards to spend on your brand.

Out of these, gift cards are usually the most effective incentive, because they give the customer the most freedom to choose what they use it on. With the added bonus of feeling like a gift, gift cards can make your customer feel more appreciated for taking your survey as well, making them more likely to return. For more info on how to use gift cards as marketing incentives for your business, please give our guide to digital customer rewards a read!

It is well worth considering offering your customers popular gift cards, such as a Starbucks gift card, a Greggs gift card, or a Just Eat gift card. It can mean a lot to a customer to be gifted a meal on you, a coffee, or a hearty midweek lunch. Alternatively, you could consider a sweet gesture, like flowers with a Bloom & Wild gift card, or a doughnut hamper with a Krispy Kreme voucher, or you could gift them a Love2shop voucher, so they can shop till they drop with many different retailers.

Gift cards from other brands, while not directly driving revenue back to you, have the added advantage of making the customer feel appreciated without having to contribute to your profit straight away. These gift cards feel like real gifts and will hopefully not only keep customers coming back for more surveys, but also for business with you. At Gifts & Vouchers, we offer over 150 gift card brands to choose from, so whoever your customer, you're sure to find the perfect gift card incentive. To make things easier for your business, our quick and easy gifting service allows you to bulk order gift cards from our site with zero fees! Please contact us for more information. Our e-gift cards are only a few clicks away from your customers’ inboxes.


How to Make Your Survey a Positive Experience

Finally, now that you’ve got your customers taking part in your survey, it’s important to keep in mind that they shouldn’t come out of the survey feeling worse about the business than they did before. This is not only to avoid them from spreading negative feedback about your company on social media or simply from not returning to your business to buy again, but also so that they will take part in your surveys again. If a customer has taken part in your branded survey before, they are much more likely to take part in one again, which could provide valuable data at a different point in time. However, if they really hated the experience of going through the survey, they will probably not want to do it again. How to avoid negative experiences in a survey then?

It’s difficult to strike a balance between gaining as much of the necessary data as possible and not taking too much time out of a consumer’s day, but making the survey as short as it can possibly be is very important. You should be absolutely clear in what questions your business urgently needs answers on, and focus on these. It doesn’t help to ask questions that aren’t relevant to them, even if you think the data could possibly come in handy in future under certain circumstances. It is better to gather this data when you do know that you will need it, and it will then also be more up-to-date. Lastly, using multiple choice questions is always a quicker and easier way for the customer to reply, but you shouldn’t shy away from asking a handful of open ended questions as well, as they allow your customers to use their own voice and feel heard. They might even come up with points, issues or expectations that didn’t occur to you prior to constructing your survey.


All in all, it can be said that the more rewarded customers feel when taking part in your survey, the higher the number of participants in your survey will turn out to be. This in turn yields better insights in your survey and will lead the way to maximising customer satisfaction.

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