Customer Satisfaction Surveys: Best Practices for Meaningful Insights

/ marketing / 14 min read
Vrinda Singh

Any organization that wants to find success needs to have a way of collecting the independent, unbiased opinions of their customers. After all, understanding your customers and their needs is vital to any growing business that seeks to enjoy any level of customer loyalty.

Customer satisfaction surveys provide you with game-changing insights and feedback that allow you to tap into your customers' psyche and boost customer experience. Utilizing this one crucial tool can transform your business from a struggling startup into a traction-building machine full of loyal customers.

However, creating the perfect survey requires more research and thoughtful strategy than you’d initially assume. Thankfully, we’ll break down everything you need to know to create the growth-inducing customer satisfaction survey of your dreams.

What Are Customer Satisfaction Surveys?

Customer satisfaction surveys (also known as CSAT) are surveys sent to customers to assess their overall satisfaction levels with different aspects of your organization. It may be your products, services, your approach in the market, or the level of customer service you provide - pretty much any factor your company needs to optimize.

Customer satisfaction surveys are critical for companies to gauge the opinion of new customers, potential clients, or random visitors about what they bring to the market. The resulting insights  can be analyzed and used to implement a new product or service, make changes in the company’s policies, or even completely change a company’s brand identity.

However, customer surveys must be designed in a way that will let you find out exactly the information you need. A poorly designed customer satisfaction survey will not only be a waste of time but also valuable resources, both employees and money. Ultimately, when you ask the right questions in the right way, the answers will tell you what you need to implement or remove to improve customer experience, enjoy higher customer retention, and get satisfied customers.

Types Of Customer Surveys

Not all customer satisfaction surveys have the same goal, so they are all designed differently depending on the exact objective of it. Some are designed to measure the satisfaction of a particular product or service, others are to grade the performance of the company in a specific market segment.

Depending on what you want to find out, different types of customer satisfaction surveys would fit a specific situation. The most common types of customer satisfaction surveys are explained below.

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) Survey

The customer satisfaction score survey, or CSAT, is one of the most popular survey methods to measure satisfaction.

As its name suggests, CSAT is a survey that tests the customer’s satisfaction by asking a question for the relevant subject and then offering a corresponding survey scale that fits the survey goals. The scoring scale can be a 1 to 3 scale, a 1 to 5, 1 to 10, or a different scale designed for the survey you’re conducting.

They are widely used because of two reasons: their simplicity and efficiency. The results are easy to read as they are numerical in a clearly defined range, so it’s easier to get an idea of what the customers think about the specific subject.

They’re also relatively simple to answer for customers, so it’s easier to get their opinion with score surveys than other, more lengthy survey methodologies. It usually takes no more than a few seconds for a customer to answer a question, so you can go further and ask multiple questions to get the overall view of how your customers feel about various aspects of your organization and measure customer experience.

Companies typically conduct CSAT surveys periodically to check the efficiency of their strategy, project, or the results from a change in the company’s policies.

The questions on a CSAT survey should be clear, easy to understand, and straightforward so that any survey participant can answer them effortlessly. There are many free form templates with pre-designed questions for specific subjects you can use to quickly design a survey without having to pay for expensive survey tools.

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Net Promoter Score (NPS) Surveys

Net Promoter Score (NPS) Surveys are developed from one single question: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this product or service to a friend or colleague?”. They are used to test the loyalty of your customers and the likeliness of them promoting your brand, products, or services to those around them.

Respondents in NPS surveys are asked to answer the question by selecting a rating of 1 to 10, with 1 being “not likely at all” to recommend, while 10 is “very likely” to recommend. You can follow this up with a question asking your customers to explain their opinion for further insights.

Respondents that give a 1 to 6 recommendation rating are called “Detractors,” those that give a 7-8 rating are called “Passives” while the ones that select a 9-10 recommendation rating are called “Promoters.”

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To calculate the Net Promoter Score from the survey, the percent of Detractors is subtracted from the percent of Promoters to get a number that can range anywhere from -100 to 100. You want to have as many 9-10 respondents as possible and a Net Promoter Score closer to 100 to have a growing pool of customers for your business.

NPS surveys are typically used by companies that want to assess customer satisfaction of their products, services, or the overall brand of the organization from a quantitative and qualitative perspective. It gives you a snapshot of how many Detractors and Promoters you have for your business and what the Detractors would like to see improved from your follow-up questions. Leading global companies like Apple, Netflix, and Amazon use NPS surveys to assess their work.

The best way to create an NPS survey is by using an online tool like Paperform that specializes in these types of surveys. You can use a pre-designed template with a follow-up question and a “Successful Submission” pop-up form.

Customer Effort Score (CES) Surveys

Customer Effort Score (CES) Surveys are designed to evaluate how much effort is required for a customer to complete a specific action.

For example, if you’re a SaaS business, you might use a CES survey to assess how easy or difficult it is for new customers to complete onboarding for your platform.

You can set up the answers in a CES survey in three ways:

  • Numerical
  • Textual
  • Visual.

In the numerical method, you can set up the survey with the following statement: “XX company made it easy for me to navigate to the checkout page”. Then, all you need to add is an “agree” range from 1 to 5, with 1 corresponding to  “strongly disagree” and 5 meaning “strongly agree”.

Another option to conduct a CES survey is to ask the question “How easy was it to ____?” and give a textual range of options from “very easy” to “very difficult” instead of a 1 to 5 score.

The third option is to use visual ratings. Visual surveys use stars, smileys, or thumbs up/down symbols to get the surveys’ answers.

The results using any of the three methods would be calculated the same way. The only difference would be how you present the survey - through a statement, a question, or visually.

To find the customer effort score, you should simply take the number of respondents that gave an “agree” response of 4 or 5 (very easy or easy) and divide them by the total number of respondents. This way, you would get to a percentage of customers that agree with the statement you tested, which is your CES score. The higher your CES score is, the more effortless the experience you provide is.

CES surveys are widely used to predict customer behavior and satisfaction, and with it, brand loyalty. The easier it is for a customer to use your products or services, the more likely they are to recommend your brand.

CES questions should be carefully designed to give the company the required benchmark to understand what they need to improve and what areas they need to work on. You can determine if your company meets the customer’s expectations and then use this information to shape your marketing strategy, pricing, customer support, or other areas that lack in delivery.

How To Create Great Customer Satisfaction Surveys That Boost Customer Experience

To create an effective customer satisfaction survey, you first need to have a clearly defined goal.

What do you want to find out from this survey? How will you use the information from it? What will the next steps be after getting the results? These are all critical questions you need to answer before conducting the survey. Without a clear goal, the survey will just be a waste of time and resources, so make sure you know why you’re running the study before starting.

Once you know the survey’s objective, the next step is to form the surveys’ questions, which is an essential part of creating customer satisfaction surveys. The questions need to be clear and precise, so the answers given can be analyzed. If you’re asking broad questions, you won’t be able to use the answers to identify areas you could improve on.

When you complete the questions you intend to use in the surveys, review them before sending them on your website. A final check may reveal some flaws in the questions like typos, grammar errors, or mistakes. Sending out surveys with errors will make your company look unprofessional, so respondents may not bother with answering them at all.

If you are sending your surveys through email, decide which people you will send it to. Sometimes, sending the survey to all customers on your email list will be less effective than sending it out to customers that have bought your product/services in the last 30 days.

When sending the emails, make sure you write an enticing and short email invitation. Include information on how long answering the survey would take, instructions on how to access the survey tool (if any), and a call to action button to direct respondents to the online survey.

The CTA button needs to stand out so readers can find the survey without much trouble. If they can’t find the button easily, they won’t take the survey.

On the other hand, if you’re sharing your survey on social media, make sure to collect sufficient demographic data so that you can create data clusters to understand your audience better.

💡 Tip: Working in hospitality or a brick-and-mortar store? A great, low-friction way to direct customers to your survey is through a custom QR code solution. You can add these to product packaging or attach them to surfaces in-store to faciliate engagement and improve your customer experience.

Types Of Customer Satisfaction Survey Questions

As we mentioned in a few paragraphs, the customer satisfaction surveys’ questions have to be short, straightforward, and specific. Asking broad questions won’t give you the desired results, so you need to choose the questions carefully.

There are different types of questions that are fit for different types of customer satisfaction surveys. We will cover a few of them in our next section.

Demographic Questions

Demographic questions are personal questions that let you understand the background characteristics of the survey respondents. They will help you get a better idea of the respondents’ identity and which factors and basic characteristics determine their answers and how you can offer a better product/service to them depending on their answers.

Demographic questions are questions regarding the respondent’s age, race, ethnicity, gender, marital status, income, education, and employment.

The answer to these questions in surveys can help you split your customer pool into segments based on specific characteristics. You can then tailor your marketing strategy to fit each component in your customer pool or just the segment where your target group is.

Open-Ended Questions

As their name suggests, open-ended questions are free-form questions that give the survey respondents the choice of answering them as they want in an open text format. The answer to open-ended questions is not limited to a predefined, closed number of responses so that the respondent can answer the question based on their knowledge and understanding of the subject.

The most significant advantage of open-ended questions is that you can get unbiased, honest customer feedback about the relevant subject directly from the customers. As the open-end questions allow the respondent to add their opinion about the questions freely, they are also a great tool for companies to get an in-depth view of the topic they are researching.

Closed-Ended Questions

Closed-ended survey questions are questions with a predefined, fixed number of responses the respondents can choose an answer from. The answer choices in closed-ended questions should meet two criteria: they must be mutually exclusive, and exhaustive. Mutually exclusive means that none of the answers shouldn’t overlap in conceptual meaning with another answer.  The second criterion - being exhaustive- means that the answer choices have to cover all logically possible answers.

Almost all surveys contain closed-ended questions as they are most fit to gather quantitative data companies can use to determine their next strategy. Closed-ended questions are also used to obtain quantitative insights, allocate value to each answer, and make a statistical analysis of the survey findings.

This will make it easier for the survey conductors to use the answers to assess a product’s performance and the success of the company’s marketing strategy. If the survey is detailed enough, it will also reveal the brand’s impact on the market and how it can grow and assess customer needs.

Nominal Questions

Nominal questions give numerical variables (tags or labels) in the answers that respondents can choose from. Instead of listing the actual answers, the survey lists tags or labels instead. For instance, for the question “what is your gender?” The survey could list 1-Male, 2-Female, and 3-Other as answers.

The tags on the answers are used purely for counting and analysis purposes. When tags and labels are assigned to different answers, it’s easier to group and analyze them compared to when the answers are textual.

Note that nominal questions aren’t necessarily close-ended questions and can also have open-ended answer options.

Likert-Scale Questions

Likert-scale questions are multiple-choice, close-ended questions where the respondents are required to answer the extent to which they agree or disagree with the statement or question presented in the survey. A good example of a Likert scale question is “How satisfied are you with our customer service?” and  an offered range of answers:

  • Very dissatisfied
  • Not satisfied
  • Neutral
  • Satisfied
  • Very satisfied

Rating-Scale Questions

Rating scale questions, or known as ordinal questions and display a scale of answer options for the respondent to select. They are most commonly used to determine how likely or unlikely customers are to recommend a company’s product or service.

In these surveys, the main question is, “How likely are you to recommend our product or service to a friend or colleague?” with an answer scale ranging from 1 to 10 below it. Most commonly, choosing 1 means “Not at all likely” while picking a 10 rating means “Extremely likely” to recommend.

Rating-scale questions give the survey conductors an exact numerical value of the customer’s opinion, which can be easily analyzed later to gauge their customers’ needs and opinions about the company.

Dropdown questions are a simple way to get answers from the respondents without overwhelming them with lengthy answer options. It gives the survey participants a dropdown menu with a scrollable list of answers they can choose from.

Dropdown questions are typically used when there are more than ten possible answers or a limited set of options like it would be when selecting countries, year of birth, or state of residence.

Yes Or No Questions

Yes or no questions are also known as Dichotomous questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “not, or with “true” or “false.”

They are used by companies to determine the truthfulness of a statement or if the customers agree with the same statement.

The results from “yes or no” questions are easy to calculate and analyze. You simply divide the number of participants who answered with “yes” with the total number of survey participants, giving you the percentage of people who agree with the statement in the survey question.

Customer Satisfaction Survey Templates

Paperform can help you find a wide array of free templates you can use to shorten your survey creation time and enjoy higher response rates. Here are some of the ones you can use.

This survey template can be used to measure how satisfied your customers are with their purchase. This template allows you to customize the look of the survey by adding your company's logo, change colors, and tweak fonts.

This template has more questions than most surveys, so it might be a good idea to break it down into multiple pages or pick a few questions that fit your survey goal.

While it’s designed for a fashion brand, you can easily customize this template through the theme settings. Once the survey has been completed, you can export the result in the preferable format, or integrate your form with Google Sheets and synchronize data automatically.

The Demographic Survey Template allows you to find out who your customer base is and what their characteristics are. While this template is useful to get a general idea about your customers, you may want to add a few other questions if you want to get more in-depth information about your customers.

Once you click on the button “Use this template”, the template will get imported into your Paperform account, and you will be able to start editing and customizing it to your needs. You can change the colors, fonts, add images, and a logo to make the surveys entirely your own.

About the author
Vrinda Singh
Vrinda is the Growth Manager at Paperform. In her spare time, she loves learning all things marketing, design & automation-related, and NOT watching reality TV. No, not at all...

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