If you were CEO and could sit down to have a conversation with any of your customers, what would you ask them?


Chances are you would not ask them to rate their interactions or if would they recommend to a family or friend. But you might be interested in what is most important to them, what they think you are doing well and any areas for improvement.


Unfortunately, it seems as though the real value you can get from a customer conversation is lost in an over-saturated pool of meaningless surveys focused more on business-created internal measures rather than actually listening to what is important to the customer.


Too many survey requests and irrelevant questions are leaving customers feeling like they are being spammed and even if they do respond the big question they are asking is, “will anyone even act on it?” Customers no longer believe that responding to a survey will have an effect on their future interactions with an organisation. So long meaningless and irrelevant surveys can be a major source of frustration and not a good experience.


The purpose of this article is to help you understand how to ensure the surveys you are sending your customers are not in themselves a poor, painful and frustrating customer experience.


  1. Less is more

In an effort to collect as much data as possible you might be tempted to send a customer survey to every customer you can. However, it is much smarter to target specific groups of customers and specific interaction types. The more meaningful the interaction, the more likely the customer will have something to tell you about it. And, if you target specific customer groups you can tailor the questions to be relevant to them. By doing this you reduce the “noise to signal” ratio.


  1. Let customers know you value their time

Unfortunately, so many surveys feel like a waste of time. The questions asked are quite often only what the business wants to know, rather than coming from a place of listening to what the customer wants to say.


If customers feel that their voice has been heard, they are much more likely to continue to give you feedback in the future. This does not mean you have to respond to every customer who completes a survey. Simply communicating with your customer base and referencing what you have learned from customer feedback is a powerful way to demonstrate that the voice of customers’ is respected in your organisation and that the surveys they complete are of value.



  1. Ask questions that are relevant to your customers’ experience

So many surveys are unnecessarily long and tedious. There is so much information you will already know about your customers – so you don’t have to ask in a survey what area they live in, what age bracket they are in, where they shopped and what they purchased, you likely already have that information. It is so much more meaningful to craft a survey to ask about the specific product or service they have just experienced. And when writing a survey, make sure that it is in language that your customer understands and not in language that you use internally.


  1. Short is sweet

Generally speaking, surveys really are too long. In today’s world where consumers prefer to digest micro-video content, soundbites, and articles that can be read in a few minutes, a survey with multiple pages of questions just seems tone-deaf. Much better to ask a few well-crafted, interesting and targeted questions. It’s much less painful for your customers’, and provides much more meaningful insight for you. There is a balance though. You don’t want your surveys to be too short either. It is really important that your customers feel that they have had an opportunity to be heard. So, a survey with no opportunity for open-ended comments is not the answer.


  1. Reflect your brand in your survey

So many organisations have amazing brand presence and personality and yet, this is hardly ever reflected in feedback surveys they send to customers. Reflecting the brand essence in the survey is such an obvious way to ensure that the survey experience is authentic and engaging. Extending your brand language and expression into your feedback survey is a really simple way to keep your survey fresh and engaging for your customers.



  1. Always have a purpose and a reason for seeking feedback


This final point is so important and so often overlooked. A survey without purpose is like a _______________________. Think about your audience – who is going to digest your customers’ feedback and what is it that they want to know. How are they going to use that information? How is it going to impact your organisation and make a difference? Have that as your starting point as you consider which questions to ask and which interactions, processes or channels to target your feedback at.