Customer Satisfaction Surveys: Best Practices for Meaningful Insights

/ marketing
Vrinda Singh

The internet and social media can present you with countless opportunities to interact with your target audience. Still, no instrument allows you to collect detailed feedback at scale quite like a customer satisfaction survey.

Getting your customers to respond to a survey might seem like a mission, but with the right targeting and questions, they’ll be more than willing to provide you with the insights that’ll take your business to the next level.

The perfect customer satisfaction survey should be detailed enough to help you extract meaningful data, while being succinct and engaging enough to convince respondents complete it in the first place.

Here’s how you can create exactly that.

What Are the Benefits of Conducting a Customer Satisfaction Survey?

Source: QMinder

Customer satisfaction surveys offer you a chance to learn about how your brand is perceived and how well your services are performed. Even with a small business, it’s often difficult to gauge exactly how customers interact with and feel about your product, brand or services.

Satisfied customers don’t purchase your product or use your service just once. Once they’re happy with you, they generally keep coming back for more. Building an army of satisfied customers has a direct correlation with increases in average lifetime value and in turn, huge increases in revenue for your business.

You can’t improve customer experiences without thoroughly understanding how your customers feel about your current offering, and where there might be room to improve. The level of insight you stand to gain from a customer satisfaction survey is reason enough to invest in one.

If you're still not convinced, here are some more ways a feedback survey can help your business:

Offer your customers a way to express their views

Brand loyalty is often inspired by a business’s ability to listen to their customers. A customer satisfaction survey is a great way to make your audience feel heard.

A research study by NewVoice recently found that 53% of customers switch to alternative products and services when they feel unappreciated or unheard. Providing a platform for customers to air their grievances, provide feedback or simply share their perspective is a great way to make your customers feel more valued.

Recognize your strengths and weaknesses

By analyzing your customer satisfaction survey responses, you can get a better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses and how to take advantage of them in the future.

Surveys can also help you recognise customers who might be likely to churn and identify the sources of their dissatisfaction.

Improve customer retention

Lastly, customer satisfaction surveys are a great way to improve customer retention. By seeing that your customers aren’t satisfied or have complaints, you can solve the issues they have and improve your overall brand image.

Nailing Your Customer Satisfaction Survey

Source: Zendesk

This Zendesk infographic shows how quickly customers get bored of poorly designed surveys. Zendesk's study also found that 21% of respondents feel that they’re usually too busy to take a survey, while 16% claimed that surveys ask far too many personal questions. Another 12% believe that surveys are often too long, making them far too time-consuming to fill out.

These figures stand as testament to the importance of optimising your surveys to improve response rates. A survey with low response rates won't accurately capture how your customer base perceives your product, and will ultimately fail to product statistically significant insights.

Thankfully, there are some surefire ways to ensure that your surveys are engaging enough to convince your audience to complete them.

Keep your surveys straight to the point and as short as possible (in some cases)

Balancing a short survey with one that will provide you with the most insight is a tough feat. A good survey often has to ask some long or open-ended questions that might cause your respondents to become uninterested or bored and lead to inconclusive survey results.

The best way to combat respondent fatigue and ask important questions is by breaking your survey into separate pages. By diving questions into sections, the respondent will feel a sense of achievement after completing each section. Not presenting all your questions on one page will also be less confronting and overwhelming for your respondent.

Creating long questionnaires with section breaks is a breeze with a tool like Paperform. In a matter of seconds, you can divide your questions into multiple sections to make your survey easier to digest, like this:


See how there's an arrow at the bottom of the page? This means that there are still more questions to go. However, by displaying just 3 questions on the first page, the respondent would be less likely to think "I can't be bothered to do this" and more likely to commit to the rest of the survey.

Balance between different types of questions

Asking the right survey questions is an art form of its own. We'll cover some great questions to ask for different kinds of customer surveys below, but first, it's important to acknowledge the sheer number of question types and how you can use these to boost response rates.

Take a look at the survey below.


Created using Paperform, the survey makes the most of different kinds of questions to keep the respondent engaged. Imagine a survey full of open-ended questions that require you to type detailed responses. Thinking like a respondent, that would be a pretty fast "nope" from me.

By using different question types, you can not only make your surveys more interactive and fun to engage with, you can also collect different kinds of data, both qualitative and quantitative, to help you make more holistic decisions. Here's a helpful guide on the different kinds of questions you can use in your surveys to boost response rates.

Avoid asking very personal questions

This should go without saying - don't ask people invasive or incredibly personal questions. It'll make your respondents very paranoid and can even lead to legal issues for you. Keep questions related to your business and their use of your product or service.

Don't reference specific times they've used or interacted with your company even if you legally have access to such data. This will also cause paranoia and can lead them to believe that their information is not safe with your company.

Optimise the timing of your survey request

Your users are more likely to respond to your survey if you share it with them at a time that's convenient for them. Unless your product or service is directly related to their job, don't email them during work hours as they're more likely to be busy, and therefore less likely to respond.

Also make sure that your survey is easily accessible via link. There's nothing worse than losing a potential respondent to a broken or inaccessible link! With Paperform, you can create a custom URL for your survey for your respondents to easily access and complete. The responses are then automatically captured into spreadsheets, emails, graphs or custom PDFs - ready for you to analyze and drive more informed business decisions.

Collect partial responses

Having respondents drop off or get bored during surveys is one of the quickest ways to lose valuable feedback and data. A respondent may have completed half your survey and provided some valuable information and then decided to stop responding if they got busy, bored or both.

Thankfully, there is a way to collect these responses and not lose them. Paperform offers a rare feature that allows you to view partial form submissions; so even if a respondent decides to not complete a survey, you'll easily be able to access their completed answers. Here's how this cool feature works.

Source: Paperform Dashboard

What to Ask on a Customer Satisfaction Survey

Now that you're a pro at optimising your surveys, let's get into the actual contents of it. While you might have a rough idea of what you're trying to find out from your survey, crafting questions that'll allow you to get unbiased, unfiltered responses is not always easy. Here are our some of the most effective questions to ask for insight.

But first: What is the purpose of your survey?

Source: Julia Evans

Before we dive into specific questions, make sure you have a very strong idea of what kind of information you actually want to unearth from your survey. You can't learn everything from one survey. The more targeted your intentions are, the more likely your survey is to move the needle. Customer satisfaction surveys should generally be focused on examining the level of happiness or fulfilment a customer derives from your service, product or user experience.

It can even help to have separate customer satisfaction surveys for different functions within your business. For example, having a separate survey for your customer service function can allow to gain targeted insights on that particular function as opposed to receiving feedback on your company as a whole. This can help you find exactly what needs to be improved, and what functions of your company are not meeting customer expectations.

Best Questions for Measuring Customer Satisfaction

Demographic Questions

Demographic questions are great to ask as they help you identify identifying patterns within responses from certain groups and personas. These can help you section types of users based on features like age, location, gender, religion and so on, and can in turn help you alter your messaging and communications strategies based on their general preferences.

Make sure your demographic questions never get too personal in nature and if you ever feel a question borders on being invasive, make sure it's not a "required" question.

  • What is your age?
  • What is your gender?
  • What is the highest degree or level of school you have completed?
  • What is your current employment status?
  • What is your marital status?
  • What is your household income?
  • Which city are you based in?

Multiple Choice Questions

Multiple choice questions are also a great way to segment users based on their responses, and can often help you understand which customers are satisfied, and which customers are not. They can also be used to gauge feelings towards your product or service. Bonus: They also look great visually and are easy for respondents to answer.

  • Which of our products or services would you be most likely to purchase again?
  • Which title best describes your job?
  • Which is your favourite product/service offered by us?
  • Which of the following words would you associate most with our company?

Scale/Rating Questions

These work similarly to multiple choice questions, except the data extracted from scale questions can often be numerical, allowing you to aggregate responses and derive valuable quantitative insights.

Using scale questions to receive ratings from customers is a great way to measure progress. For example, if you ask a customer to rate your service out of 10 at a given point in time, and then ask them the same question a year later, you'll be able to determine whether your service has improved or deteriorated within that period of time.

  • How likely are you to recommend us to a friend, family member or colleague? (Rate from 0-10)
  • How satisfied were you with your online experience? (Rate from 'Very Satisfied' to 'Very Unsatisfied')
  • Rate this statement: Navigating our website was easy (Rate from 'Totally Agree' to 'Totally Disagree'

Usage Questions

Gauging a respondent's usage of your product or service can also help you segment responses based on the amount of time or money they've spent on it, or how frequently they use it. But more importantly, these questions can help you understand how much users currently depend on your product or service in order to determine whether this number can be improved.

  • How often do you use our product or service?
  • Roughly how many times have you visited our website in the past month?
  • How many times have you had an interaction with our customer service reps in the past year?

Open-ended Questions

While most other question types allow you to segment or aggregate responses, open-ended questions exist to provide depth and detail. While it's harder to identify customer trends using such questions, they're infinitely valuable. While other questions provide you with the what and the how (for example, how would you rate our service out of 10), open-ended questions help you thoroughly understand the why behind that rating.

  • How would you improve our product/service?
  • How would you explain our product/service to a friend?
  • What could we have done to get a higher rating today?

Customer satisfaction isn't something that increases overnight. As a business, it's something that needs to be monitored and improved regularly to make sure that customers are gaining real value from your product and services.

Identifying pain points is a crucial first step for improving the perception of your company and retaining your customers for life.

Create your very own customer satisfaction survey in a matter of minutes using Paperform. It's free to try for 14 days, with no Credit Card details required.

Our gift to you: A free template with optimised questions ready-to-use for your customer satisfaction survey.

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