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Better Survey Questions for Actionable Customer Feedback

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The most successful products and services rely on customer feedback for improvements, future iterations, conversion optimization, and user experience. How do you build better survey questions to get more actionable data?

Open vs. Close-Ended Questions

In most surveys, there are two basic types of questions. Close-ended questions are simple to answer, often just a yes or no. Open-ended questions are broader, allowing for more in-depth responses.

Open-ended questions offer greater value to the surveyor because of their greater detail. This can provide important information for product and web development, allowing the surveyor to receive intimate user feedback.

The downside is that open questions take significantly more work on the part of the surveyee. As a result, having too many of these questions can lead to unanswered sections or abandoned surveys.

Close-ended survey questions are the other end of the spectrum. The feedback they provide often offers insights with less depth, but they also require very little effort from the surveyee. As a result, you receive more participation and fewer survey abandonments.

Usually, the best option is to use a mix of the two, with the close-ended questions making up the majority. Save the open questions for the data you expect to offer the most valuable insights. To get more out of your close-ended questions, consider using a ranking system with options ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree” to add depth to responses.


Timing

The next consideration is when and where you should place your survey. Survey timing and location should dictate the questions you ask or vice versa.

Some common locations and timing for surveys include:

Landing Pages

Landing pages can be good options for survey questions about discovery. Generally, it is generally good to keep landing page surveys short, often one question. You don’t want to drive visitors away before they get to explore your site.

If you want to set up a longer landing page survey, you may want to have it only prompt repeat visitors.

Success Pages

When a user performs a desired action on your website or app, such as a download or signing up for a newsletter, this can be a good time for a quick survey. 

Post-Purchase

After a customer makes a purchase, you have a good opportunity to engage with them. There is a good chance of response on these pages and you can get valuable insights on any difficulties or UX challenges in the purchasing process.

High Exit Pages

Explore the hard data of your analytics to determine which pages have higher than normal exit rates (visitors leave after viewing). This is your chance to see if there is a problem on these pages, whether technological or messaging that clashes with the viewer. This is a chance to refine your targeting and/or messaging.

Cancellation Pages

If you’ve ever unsubscribed from an email newsletter, you’ve likely come across a cancellation page survey. These are usually short, one or two question surveys used to determine why the user is canceling their subscription.

Survey Question Types

There are several types of survey questions out there. The right ones to use depend on what sort of answers you are looking for, and what insights you hope to discover. In this section, we explore common survey question categories for software and web development.

Discovery

“Where did you hear about us?”

These questions give you insights as to how customers are discovering your business or product. It can help inform marketing efforts by understanding where you are having success, as well as pinpointing unused areas that you should be leveraging.

UX

“How easy was it to complete your purchase?”

These questions are a great way to collect soft data on user experience. They provide insights that you can use in your existing or future iterations to improve UX.

Improvement

“What could we have done better? What could we have done to WOW you?”

Improvement questions are often well-served either as or supplemented by, open-ended questions. They go beyond simply finding problem areas, to seeking opportunities for improvement.

Satisfaction

“How likely are you to recommend this product?”

In addition to feedback on customer satisfaction, you can use the response to qualify when to request a review. A user who selects “very likely” to the above question is more likely to leave a good review. As such, you may want to have that response automatically prompt a review.

Feature Value

“If you could no longer use this site/app/service, what is the one thing you would miss most?”

This helps you get an honest look at what your most valuable or unique feature is. This not only helps you understand which features to hone in on but can also give an idea of your USP (unique selling point) for marketing purposes.

These questions can even be added to cancellation pages, asking “what feature you will miss most.”

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