AskNicely's Customer Survey Best Practice Guide - New & Improved for 2023
In a survey that asked 1,920 business professionals to share their number one priority for 2023 and beyond, customer experience came out on top (by far), beating product and pricing for the third time in a row.
The thing is: awesome customer experience relies on understanding your customers, and understanding your customers relies on carefully crafted surveys that ask the right questions, at the right time.
Effective customer surveys will look different for every business, but there are a few things that ALL the great ones have in common – no matter the business size, industry or customer segment.
We can barely watch a 10 second TikTok video without getting distracted, so how can we expect our customers to sit through a twenty question survey? Gone are the days of long, boring customer surveys and in are they days of short, sharp, fun-to-fill out ones.
Short surveys produce higher response and completion rates than long ones. The more survey responses you have, the more meaningful conclusions you can draw from your data.
If 1 or 2 customers rate your company’s communication as poor, maybe it represents a few bad days, but if 100 customers do, you know you have a proven issue that needs to be addressed.
All you need are 1-3 questions that focus on a customer experience score and the reasons behind it. For instance our favourite of NPS, “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our business to a friend or colleague?”.
Once you have an answer, you can follow up with one or two simple questions such as “Why did you give us that score?” and “What was so great about our communication”. Getting to the deeper meaning behind these core questions will be far more impactful than trying to understand everything that your customers are thinking. It’s about understanding what matters the most to your customers, instead of trying to understand everything all at once.
Shorter surveys also make the data easier to analyze and act on, but we’ll get to that in a second.
They’re TIMED RIGHT
When you send out your customer surveys is just as important as what is included in the survey itself. If you request feedback too late after a customer interaction, completion rates flop and the feedback you do get becomes less fruitful.
We recommend sending your surveys immediately after a service is complete, or once you know a customer has had the chance to enjoy the results. For most industries, this is between 1-7 days.
The highs and lows customers feel after an experience is short-lived, so it’s critical for you to catch them in this short, but ever-so-important window in order to exact the most authentic, and useful feedback.
Not only does this instant timing allow you to extract the most meaningful feedback, but it also allows time for you to follow up on feedback before it becomes old news.
Positive feedback can be followed with a shoutout to the staff member responsible and an online review request, and negative feedback can be followed with an attempt to turn things around for that customer, before negative word of mouth bashes your brand’s reputation.
For more on timing, check out the blog - Timing is Everything. When's the Best Time to Ask for Customer Feedback?
Regular improvements to your customer experience requires regular feedback from your customers. Sending out a survey once in a blue moon, or even every quarter won’t allow you to get to know your customers the way you need to.
We recommend sending out a survey to every customer after each significant interaction. If you’re a service company, this might mean as soon as the service is completed, or after \ enough time has passed for the customer to see the results.
This way, you have a consistent stream of customer feedback which helps you meet new customers' needs as they emerge, rather than playing catch up.
Plus, regularly asking for your customer’s feedback shows them your commitment to their experience, which helps build trust and loyalty.
Accessibility is key. Your customer surveys need to be easily accessible by both your customers, your customer-facing teams and your frontline managers.
Customers: Meet your customers where they are, which is usually on their phones via email, SMS or web. Customers should be able to access your survey by a single tap on their device, and they should be able to open, complete and submit their feedback with ease (no weird mobile displays or confusing survey setups).
Customer-facing teams: Your customer-facing teams should have access to their survey results, in order for them to see what they’re doing well, what they can work on and why it matters. For many frontline workers who work out of office, ensuring access via mobile is incredibly important.
Managers: At a glance, managers should be able to see which customer-facing teams need support and which deserve some recognition based on survey results. They should be able to look at the data to easily compare locations, branches and spot trends that require action.
With accessible, regular customer data, managers can see what separates their best from the rest and develop a blueprint for everyone to follow.
They’re Easy to ANALYZE & ACT ON
Your survey results are only as useful as your ability to analyze and act on them.
We’ve found that most brands in 2023 have matured in their ability to collect customer feedback, but often it’s the next step–taking action– that’s still too hard.
By following the best practices above, you should be able to easily spot trends in your survey results that will help you make the most meaningful improvements to your customer experience.
For example, what are the common themes of your biggest promoters and detractors?
Which frontline team members are exceeding customer expectations, and what are they doing differently to the folks who are struggling?
What do all the branches with the highest NPS scores have in common?
When done right, your survey results can surface trends and act as the roadmap to customer experience success.
Got your feedback? Learn what to do once you have it here.