Creating your customer survey

Create your customer survey that gets results

Getting to know your customer

When working with a client recently, it came up (and not for the first time) that we really need to know our customer if we want to provide them with the products and services they need to solve their problem.  We want to have them come back again and again to a business that took the time to understand their needs, something you can start with an effective customer survey as a part of your business arsenal.

What is clear is that we need to know more about our customers is that we need to understand them on an individual basis. There are questions such as: What does your ideal client look like? What problem is this customer facing and how does your business help solve that problem?

One fact we need to understand as business owners is that not knowing who your customer is will waste time and money. The topic of this post is to help you get to know your customer through your own research, and here we will focus on creating and using customer surveys that work.

Customer surveys

I’ve had more than a few clients that struggle with the concept and activity of creating an effective customer survey because there’s a lack of understanding of what goes into a survey that will return informative results, creating disappointment and frustration when the “results” are both unclear and irrelevant to what they were trying to achieve. So, this is where we start with the two main concepts of getting to know your customer through research, using a survey as a key part of that process. We need to know that:

  • Its not guesswork, and
  • It’s best to gather data through direct contact


Getting started with your analysis

You’ll need to figure out how to interact with your customer, and you’ll be doing some analysis on your own, so you’ll be ready to start making your surveys.

Creating your customer survey

Here are some key things to keep in mind when designing and rolling out your survey are:

  • A survey is one of the best ways to elicit information from your customer
  • Survey response rates tend to be low
  • Improve your odds by keeping surveys short and focused, and adding incentives will help as well
  • Have a mixture of focused and “big picture” questions
  • Too many complicated questions will turn respondents off
  • Too many questions are another turn off for people. Try to balance the number of questions with the information you’re trying to gather.

Customer surveys include demographics

You’ll need to collect or identify demographic information. Based on the survey requirements you’ll be asking for information such as:

Age, location, gender, income, education, marital status, employment status, language, family composition and more

Customer surveys include psychographics

This is subjective information about what they think and feel. This type of information will include things such as:

Personality, attitude, values, hobbies, lifestyle, political or religious views

Customer surveys include what media they use

What media they use to interact with and where do they do it? This information includes:

What magazines they might read, What TV stations do they watch, What movies do they enjoy? What websites do they visit and what social media platforms to they spend time on?

Customer surveys include purchasing behaviour

You want questions that reveal on how they make purchasing decisions. This type of information includes:

What and when do they buy? What is their strategy? What are they looking for? What influences their buying decision?

Creating your survey with online tools

Now that you’ve got some idea on what needs to be revealed by your survey, you’ll need survey tools that are easy to use. Many of these tools are online. Some of these online tools include:

  • Survey Monkey
  • Google Forms
  • Typeform
  • Polldaddy
  • Zoho survey
  • Survey Gizmo
  • Survey Sparrow

Writing your survey questions

You need know that writing questions requires attention and focus. There’s an art to creating survey questions, and this cannot be ignored.

How well those questions are written will determine answer rates

Remember you’ve got to ask the right questions to get the right answers

Your questions will be simple and direct. Your questions will:

  • Be the shorter the better
  • Avoid misunderstanding
  • Not use jargon or technical terms
  • Use Closed vs Open questions
  • Use closed questions to ask for specific info
  • Use Open questions ask for an opinion
  • Know when to use each type of question

Use Ratings Scales:

  • Scales make it easier for the respondent to answer
  • Scales are easier to analyze
  • Use odd numbers to provide a middle number

Your survey will have a logical order

  • It will have a beginning, a middle, and an end
  • It will start with broad questions that get narrower
  • Put the most important questions at the top
  • Test, test, test!
  • Never launch a survey without testing it
  • Have someone go through it
  • Look for areas to modify
  • Offer an incentive - Surveys take time for the respondent so offer some incentive

Promote your survey

  • Consider your timing, experiment with different times to send your survey
  • Online promotion: Use all regular SEO & social media techniques
  • Link to your survey wherever possible with your best Promotional writing
  • Use the Survey Monkey premium readymade audience
  • Other peoples’ audiences – Ask marketers with similar audiences if they’ll send your survey in exchange for sharing data findings

Pulling it together

By now it's become clear that putting together a customer survey is something that is worth the time and effort to produce. It will bring knowledge and understanding of your target customer and this is a key to your success. You'll see how customer needs evolve over time and that analyzing data should be an ongoing task. 

Are you ready to put together your customer survey? One that will bring you closer to your customer as you make sure your products and services are aligned because you know who that customer is. If you haven't run a customer survey in the last year, now would be a great time to get moving on this important, business generating task. Are you ready?