Customer Service Surveys: The Best Questions for Results

Posted on March 1, 2023 | Updated on October 30, 2023

Every business must strive to understand its target market as if family. The more intimately familiar a company becomes with their customer, the better its products and services evolve. Customer service surveys are among the most popular and straightforward market research methods. These tools benefit businesses because the customer fills responses of their own volition, despite prompting from the company. 

It signifies more meaningful care in their company’s community and the want for services or products to develop. Organizations should understand the value of various question types and how wording can impact perceptions of a business. These aspects will lead to process discovery within an organization to exceed expectations and obtain a competitive advantage.

Types of Questions

Customer service surveys contain a mixture of question types or exclusively one kind. You must curate it in a way that is relevant for responders so they think through each question without phoning it in. 

The survey dynamic is dependent on the company’s objective and individual interest. What does it want to learn from the survey, and how much room for interpretation does it want? Analyze some of the most widespread question types and how they benefit companies for results:

  • Yes or no: These leave little room for interpretation but provide a company with more decisive insight into a product’s performance or service’s quality. A variant of this type is true-or-false questions.
  • Number rating or scales: Survey responders have more flexibility in their responses with a number scale. Giving options like “Highly agree or disagree” or “Very likely or unlikely” makes customers reflect more about their psychographic response. These answers provide more data about customer beliefs and motivations, though more options can lead to less discerning data.
  • Open-ended: Leaving open lines or blocks for written responses could provide the most illuminating details about a customer base. 

These options are not the only available question types. For example, companies can conduct interviews as surveys, which are time-consuming. Regardless, surveys demonstrate how questioners can influence customer participation and the importance of the results. Based on these categories, what are the most valuable questions for businesses to ask on surveys?

Yes or No: Did the staff deliver relevant information generously?

A question like this is jam-packed with nuance as the modifiers make customers consider their experience with more detail. As with any question, word choice and syntax heavily influence question interpretation. Here, customers have to consider several aspects of their experience.

First, they must answer if the staff was knowledgeable, which signifies their training and expertise. Additionally, the knowledge the customer received should have been relevant to their unique patronage experience. Sometimes, a staff member could appear knowledgeable about their niche, but they could not answer the customer’s query because they misunderstood or attempted to divert due to ignorance. Here, customers will respond if the staff were helpful and appeared to be experts in their profession.

Secondly, this question forces customers to review staff demeanor and attitude. The word “generously” makes customers analyze a worker’s willingness to assist customers and politeness despite the circumstance. It doesn’t matter if a customer delivers a relevant answer to a question if it isn’t provided with kindness. The delivery could change a positive experience to a negative one, regardless if the customer received everything they desired. 

However, a company could risk receiving no response from this question if a customer had zero interactions. In general, some survey takers could leave questions blank if they felt a “yes” or “no” didn’t apply to them, making data not as comprehensive as it could be. But, it encompasses all query types, including complaints, without explicitly asking how well a staff member resolved a complaint.

Additional practical options for this question type include:

  • Compared to similar customer experiences, was this better than previous ones?
  • Was the product/service you received worth your financial and time investment?

Number Rating or Scales: How much effort did your shopping experience require? (1 = none — 10 = extreme effort)

Nobody wants to feel like they had to jump through endless hoops to reach the endpoint of interacting with a product or service provider. Imagine if a customer wanted to purchase a phone and set up a plan, but they had to make multiple appointments and fill out 100 pages of paperwork before even buying the phone. These stopgaps cause customer frustration, and if companies can reduce friction, they must.

These questions are vital because it also determines if customers could become repeating. Despite how satisfied customers could be with the product or service, they won’t want to engage with that company again if the process is exhausting or convoluted. It’s possible some elements of a company’s strategy cannot be eliminated, but technology could streamline and simplify previously complex processes, like filling out paperwork. Plus, companies could have a short answer section following this to explain what parts caused customer effort if any.

However, too-large ranges could muddle data by having fewer extremes in results. It could make it more challenging to discern customer attitudes or find where to place priorities if there are more data points making averages more level.

Additional practical options include:

  • How likely are you to mention your experience in a relevant conversation with a family or friend? (Not possible, unsure, potentially, certainly)
  • How much did this experience bring value to your everyday life? (1 = none — 10 = gamechanger)

Open-Ended: If you ran this business, what would you change first?

Some businesses may fear having customers answer this question. It could lead to rambling rants or the next business improvement meeting. But it’s a bold question because customers want specific and personalized purchasing experiences. 

Businesses can’t empathize with customers unless they know how to participate in the experience from an unbiased perspective. Leading an outfit will cause enterprises to imprint how they feel customers should react to engaging with their products and services, which isn’t helpful for progress. The best way to learn how customers experience an organization authentically is to give them a safe platform to express their thoughts.

Customers may not feel encouraged to fill these customer service surveys out if they think the time invested in responding isn’t leading to practical change. Survey creators may want to consider an accountability system where a responder can opt to receive feedback from the business on how they plan to take action on their comments or update them on their meaningful ideas. 

However, a few drawbacks include ample time to perform data entry and analysis and a higher likelihood of the customer feeling demotivated to fill out such an extensive survey.

Additional practical options include:

Customer Service Surveys to Increase Bottom Lines

The best side effect of customer service surveys is their ability to adapt to new customer insights. Once a company gathers a significant amount of data regarding a topic or two, it can dive deeper or research new realms to get an even more illuminating perspective. With electronic surveys replacing traditional pen-and-paper, businesses will likely get quick responses in more notable volumes, allowing them to implement internal improvements expediently for more impactful customer satisfaction.

About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.

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