How Doing Customer Surveys Can Help Your Business

How Doing Customer Surveys Can Help Your Business
Updated May 16, 2023
Megan Ferringer
Written byMegan Ferringer
Zachary Ace Aiuppa
Edited byZachary Ace Aiuppa
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In an era where 93% of buyers read online reviews before taking action, giving your customers the products, services, and experiences they want has never been more important.

This is especially true in today's crowded and competitive marketplace, where customer satisfaction is one of the best levers a brand can pull to differentiate itself from the rest. Today, the brand with the best customer experience usually comes out on top. 

That's because nearly 70% of people recommend your business to others after a positive experience, and 50% would regularly revisit your business for more. At the same time, a negative experience can actively harm your brand. The average consumer will share their bad experience with 16 other people. It can take brands an average of 12 positive customer experiences to make up for that single less-than-satisfactory review.

In other words, the stakes are pretty high when it comes to customer satisfaction. And increasingly, brands are turning to customer satisfaction surveys to keep a pulse on how their consumers are really feeling — including what they like, don't like, and where your business could be doing better. 

Surveying your customers can be so impactful that Gartner reports nearly 80% of companies see year-over-year growth when they use surveys to collect experience data. It also turns out that consumers like surveys. Microsoft says 77% of consumers see brands more favorably if they seek out and accept customer feedback.

If you're still not convinced how essential customer surveys are for your business' growth, read on. You'll discover all of the reasons why they're so important and how you can go about successfully executing them.

Why Customer Surveys Are So Important

Success for your business comes down to so much more than just your revenue. It comes down to how happy your customer base is, too. But how can you make sure you're actually giving them what they want? That's where surveys come into play. 

With these insights, you can take action and turn dissatisfied customers into happy ones. This also means you have an opportunity to improve your brand, leading to better loyalty, higher sales, and happier customers overall. But these are far from the only reasons why customer surveys are so important. Here are some of the top business outcomes and benefits you can expect by making surveys a standard part of your overall growth strategy.

Sharpen Your Marketing Strategy

Do you struggle to refine your marketing message across your blog, email campaigns, and social media channels? Your customer surveys can give you the insights you need to take the mystery out of marketing and nail your messaging every time. 

For example, your survey data could reveal which products are a hit with your customers, giving you the focus you need for your next Instagram strategy. Plus, you can use surveys to learn which communication channels customers prefer, so you can stop wasting your energy on platforms that aren't giving you the engagement you need.

Prevent Customer Churn 

Customer churn is when one of your customers decides to stop using your service, buying your products, or visiting your store. Nearly 67% of businesses point to bad customer experiences as the top cause of churn. Sending out a survey can reveal where your business is falling short in the eyes of your customers, giving you actionable data on how to improve.

Reveal Opportunities for New Ideas and More Innovation 

You spent a lot of time refining your business' niche, but that doesn't mean your work is done. Keeping tabs on your customers can help you get ahead of their ever-evolving needs. For example, your customers might be ready for a wider range of clothing sizes, or maybe they're interested in vegan options for your signature donuts. Your customers can tell you all of these and more — all you need to do is ask. 

Strengthen Your Customer Relationships

Your customer made a purchase or used your service, but that doesn't mean your relationship needs to be only transactional. Foster that connection by sending them a satisfaction survey to see how happy they are with their new purchase. You can also ask how you might have served them better. Your customers will appreciate the time you took to reach out, and it'll strengthen that relationship in the long run. 

How to Successfully Survey Your Customers

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Customer surveys can give you some pretty valuable data. But in an era where digital noise is loud and attention spans short, how can you make sure your survey gets noticed and completed? 

Here are a few recommended steps to ensure your survey gets in front of your customers and gives you the answers you need to make meaningful changes to your brand experience. 

1. Clearly Define Your Survey Goal

To get the most value out of your surveys, you need to decide precisely what you hope to learn from the feedback. What kind of customer experience touchpoint do you want to improve? 

Focus on a single problem. This can be anything from unlocking some current issues with your online shopping experience to figuring out where your product line is falling short. Once you have your goal, you can explore a few different survey types to unlock the specific feedback you're after. 

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Rating

Your CSAT rating measures how helpful your customer found your support experience or how happy they are with your service or product.

Net Promoter Score℠ (NPS) Survey

Your NPS measures how likely a customer would be to recommend your product or service to a friend.

Churn Survey

A churn survey will help you better understand why your customer is canceling a service or not purchasing your products anymore. 

2. Ensure Your Questions Are Clear and Unbiased

According to the Pew Research Center, survey data quality depends on how well your questions are crafted. If your questions are vague or leading, there's a good chance your response rate will be low. The goals are to make it easy for your customers to share their opinions and to make them feel comfortable sharing them honestly.

As you build out your questions, consider double-checking them against some of these top criteria to ensure a high response rate and high-value answers: 

  • Could this question be misunderstood? If there's a chance your customer could read the question multiple ways, that's a sign you should rephrase it. 

  • Does the question contain confusing or complicated words? A good rule of thumb is to write for an eighth-grade reading level. This means keeping your terminology clear, straightforward, and free of business jargon. 

  • Does this question make assumptions? Make sure you're aware of your own biases and how they might turn into leading questions. Always use objective language and avoid making generalizations. 

  • Is the wording loaded? If it seems like the question has an underlying motive, it's time to change it. These questions might force a respondent to answer in a way that doesn't necessarily reflect their opinion, resulting in inaccurate answers. Make sure your wording remains as neutral as possible. 

3. Keep Your Survey Short

Keep things short if you want a high response rate. According to Survey Monkey, 60% of people won't take a survey that takes longer than 10 minutes

Set expectations by letting people know how long the survey will take to complete. Consider including this information in your survey invite or at the top of the survey itself. Your customers will appreciate the transparency. 

4. Reward Customers For Their Time

Incentivizing people is always a great way to get results, and completing surveys is no different. In exchange for a customer's time, you can offer them coupons, gift cards, discounts, or a small physical gift. Whatever route you choose, rewarding them for their time is an easy way to boost survey engagement and ensure quality responses.

5. Don't Underestimate the Power of Timing

When you send out your customer survey is key. For example, the ideal time to send out a customer satisfaction survey is immediately after a customer has an interaction with your brand's service or support teams — within 24 hours at most. This ensures that the conversation remains fresh in the customer's memory, and they can describe their experience more accurately and honestly. 

For product-related surveys, you'll want to wait a little longer. This is because it usually takes a few days for a customer to really get to know and experience your product. A good rule of thumb here is to send the survey three days after the purchase. 

You Got Your Answers, So Now What? 

You crafted the perfect survey and compiled dozens of great opinions from your customers. So now what do you do? Use them! 

Your next step now is to spend some time with the answers, summarize the results, and spend time analyzing them. While honest feedback isn't always easy to hear, this is an incredible opportunity to truly understand your customers' needs and craft the perfect strategy to act on them. Your business, and your customers, will be happier in the long run because of it.

Taking the time to understand who your customers are, what they like, and what they need is a major step in growing your customer base — but it's just one of many that entrepreneurs need to follow as they build their small business empire. Learn more about how to set your business up for success by reading our Ultimate Guide For Getting Your Business Online and in Front of Customers.

Originally published on October 20, 2022, and last edited on May 16, 2023.

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