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Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Customer Surveys

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Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Customer Surveys

Apr 30, 2024
13 min read

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‘Ughhh, another brand, another customer survey!’

Do your customers feel this way whenever you send them a survey?

Yes, surveying customers and collecting feedback is important. But think about your customers for a second: they probably receive hundreds of such surveys from various brands they engage with. It’s completely understandable if they’re feeling frustrated. 

But from your standpoint, you want your customers’ opinion. You want to make decisions based on what they need and what they expect. 

So, how do you get them to answer – and, most importantly, complete – your surveys? 

It all boils down to the manner in which you design the customer survey. Yes, there’s some method to the madness. 

In this article, we’ll explore:

  • Importance of customer surveys 
  • Types of customer surveys 
  • 11 steps to create customer surveys 
  • Hacks to create customer surveys that get responses
Create Easy Yet Effective Customer Surveys See how Hiver works

Table of Contents

What are Customer Surveys?

A customer survey is a systematic research method used by businesses to gather feedback directly from current, past, or potential customers about their perception, experience, and expectations related to a product, service, or overall brand experience. 

Such surveys typically consist of a series of structured questions and are presented to customers in various forms – online surveys, telephonic interviews, mailed questionnaires, or face-to-face interactions.

The objective of these surveys is to identify areas of satisfaction and dissatisfaction, understand customer needs and preferences, and gain insights that can lead to improvements in product design, service delivery, or overall business strategies. 

Get Immediate Customer Feedback

10 Types of Customer Surveys

Here are some of the different types of customer surveys:

#1 Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Survey:

  • CSAT Survey measures how satisfied customers are with a company’s products, services, or a specific interaction.
  • Common Question: “How satisfied were you with our service?” Typically answered on a scale from ‘Very Unsatisfied’ to ‘Very Satisfied’.

#2 Net Promoter Score (NPS) Survey:

  • Assesses customer loyalty by asking respondents how likely they are to recommend a company to friends or colleagues.
  • Common Question: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our product/service to a friend or colleague?”
  • To calculate NPS, subtract the percentage of customers who wouldn’t recommend you (Detractors, scores 0-6) from the percentage who would (Promoters, scores 9-10). NPS = % Promoters – % Detractors.

#3 Customer Effort Score (CES) Survey:

  • CES Survey evaluates how easy it was for customers to get a problem resolved or to get a question answered.
  • Common Question: “How easy was it to get the help you wanted today?” Usually answered on a scale like ‘Very Difficult’ to ‘Very Easy’.

#4 Product/Service Feedback Survey:

  • This survey targets specific insights about a product or service.
  • Common Questions: “What features do you like the most?”, “What improvements would you suggest?”

#5 Market Research Survey:

  • Helps businesses understand market trends, consumer preferences, and competitive landscapes.
  • Common Questions: “Which brands do you prefer in this category?”, “What factors influence your purchase decisions?”

#6 Post-Purchase Feedback Survey:

  • Collects insights after a customer makes a purchase. This can help in understanding the buying experience, delivery satisfaction, and initial product impressions.
  • Common Questions: “How was your checkout experience?”, “Did the product arrive on time?”

#7 Website or App Feedback Survey:

  • Aims to understand the user experience and areas of improvement for a website or app.
  • Common Questions: “Did you find the information you were looking for?”, “How would you rate the ease of finding something on our website? 

#8 Customer Service Feedback Survey:

  • Evaluates the performance of a customer service team or individual representatives.
  • Common Questions: “How would you rate the assistance you received?”, “Was your issue resolved in a timely manner?”

#9 Voice of the Customer (VoC) Survey:

  • Captures overall perceptions, needs, and desires of customers. This is a broader survey than CSAT.
  • Common Questions: “What do you like most about our brand?”, “What challenges do you face when using our product?”

#10 Churn Survey:

  • Sent to customers who have cancelled a service or stopped buying a product. It aims to understand the reasons behind the same.
  • Common Questions: “Why did you decide to cancel?”, “What could we have done differently?”

A Detailed Guide to Customer Satisfaction Surveys

Importance of Customer Surveys

Customer surveys are invaluable tools for businesses and organizations to gain insights directly from their primary stakeholders – the customers. Such surveys typically consist of a series of structured questions and are presented to customers in various forms – online surveys, telephonic interviews, mailed questionnaires, or face-to-face interactions.

  • Feedback on Products/Services: Surveys can help businesses understand how their product or service is perceived, what features are most and least appreciated, and where there might be gaps or areas for improvement. They can highlight issues in the product or service that the company might not be aware of.
  • Evaluate Customer Satisfaction: By gauging customer satisfaction, businesses can set benchmarks and performance metrics. Over time, these metrics provide a clear picture of whether the company is improving or declining in critical business metrics like retention rate and revenue.
  • Improving Customer Experience: By understanding individual customer preferences and pain points, companies can create more personalized interactions. Surveys can pinpoint where in the customer journey individuals feel delighted or frustrated, allowing businesses to streamline and optimize every touchpoint.
  • Risk Management: Customers who take the time to provide feedback, especially negative feedback, are giving businesses a chance to address and rectify issues before they escalate or lead to churn. Trends in feedback can act as early warning signs for larger issues.
  • Real-Time Decision Making: Real-time feedback is about addressing issues as and when they happen, so make it about assisting the customers then and there. Imagine you go to a restaurant and leave negative feedback about the ambience. You get a call within the next 15 minutes from the manager apologizing for the same and sending you a coupon that can be redeemed the next time you visit.
  • Enhance Innovation: Often, customers provide suggestions or express needs that can spark innovative product or service ideas. Engaging customers in the innovation process can lead to products or services that are more in tune with their current and future needs.
  • Building Trust: By actively seeking and valuing customer feedback, businesses not only show their openness to criticism but also demonstrate a commitment to closing the feedback loop. This process involves taking actionable steps based on the feedback received, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and thereby nurturing a deeper trust with their customer base.
  • Market Analysis: Understanding your customers’ needs can provide a competitive advantage as you can tailor your offerings more effectively than competitors. Surveys can highlight emerging trends in consumer behavior or preferences.

11 Steps to Create Customer Surveys

Here’s a step-by-step guide on creating customer surveys:

Step 1: Define the Objective of Your Survey

Before designing any survey, it’s crucial to understand why you are conducting the survey in the first place. This means clearly defining the objective or the specific information you wish to obtain. Knowing the objective will not only guide the types of questions you ask but also how you’ll analyze and use the responses.

Suppose you own an online clothing store and recently launched a new line of summer dresses. 

Your objective might be to understand how satisfied customers are with the fit, material, and design of the dresses. With this clear objective, your survey can focus on these specific areas, ensuring that the feedback is relevant and actionable.

Template for Defining Survey Objectives:

Survey Objective Form
– Survey Name: (e.g., Summer Dress Feedback Survey)
– Purpose of this Survey:
– [ ] Product feedback
– [ ] Customer service evaluation
– [ ] Website usability
– [ ] Other: (any other vital point)
– Specific Objective: (e.g., To gauge customer satisfaction with the fit, material, and design of our new summer dresses)
– Key Information to Obtain: (List down the main points you want your survey to address based on the objective. For our example, it would be: fit of the dress, quality of material, design appreciation.)

Once you have a clear objective, the process becomes more streamlined as you have a direction and focus for your survey. Each subsequent step will revolve around achieving this primary objective.

Step 2: Select the Right Survey Platform

Selecting an appropriate survey platform is crucial. The platform you choose should cater to your audience, be user-friendly, and provide the features necessary to achieve your objectives. Factors to consider include: ease of use, customization options, data analysis capabilities, and distribution methods.

Let’s continue with our online clothing store scenario. If the majority of your customers shop via mobile, you’d want to choose a survey platform that’s mobile-responsive. You might also want a platform that easily integrates with your e-commerce site or email marketing tool.

Survey Platform Evaluation Checklist

Platform Usability: Is the platform user-friendly for both survey creators and respondents?

Mobile Responsiveness: Can respondents easily complete the survey on mobile devices?

Customization: Can you customize the survey to align with your brand (colors, logo, etc.)?

Integration Options: Can the platform integrate with your website, email system, or CRM?

Data Analysis Capabilities: Does the platform offer features to easily analyze and visualize survey results?

Cost: Does the platform fit within your budget?

Recommendation: Based on the above criteria, would you choose this platform?

Choosing the right platform is a foundational step. It will influence how respondents interact with your survey and how you gather and analyze the results. The platform should complement your survey objectives and make the entire process smoother.

Simply Insert Customer Surveys into Email

Step 3: Design and Structure your Questions

The design and structure of your survey questions are vital to obtain accurate, unbiased results. Questions should be clear, concise, and avoid leading the respondent to a particular answer. There are various types of questions you can use, including multiple-choice, rating scales, and open-ended questions.

For our online clothing store, a mix of question types can be useful include:

  • Multiple Choice: “Which color from our summer dress collection did you purchase?”
  • Rating Scale: “On a scale of 1-10, how comfortable was the dress?”
  • Open-ended: “What did you like most about the dress? Please specify.”

When designing your questions:

  • Avoid jargon or technical terms unless your audience is familiar with them.
  • Stay neutral to avoid leading questions. Instead of “Don’t you love our new dress?”, ask, “How would you rate our new dress?”
  • If using scales, keep them consistent (e.g., always having 1 as the low end and 10 as the high end).
  • Allow for a ‘Not Applicable’ or ‘Prefer not to say’ option when necessary, so respondents don’t provide inaccurate answers.

The clearer and more straightforward your questions are, the more accurate feedback you’ll receive from respondents.

Step 4: Ensure Logical Flow and Grouping

Ensuring that your customer survey has a logical flow makes it easier for respondents to follow and complete. 

Group related questions together to maintain coherence and avoid confusing or overwhelming participants. Also, starting with general questions and gradually moving to specific ones can help the respondent ease into the survey.

Survey Flow Template:

Survey Name: Summer Dress Feedback Survey

Section 1: General Feedback
-Overall satisfaction with the summer dress collection
-How likely are you to recommend our summer dress collection to a friend?

Section 2: Specifics on Design and Appearance
-Feedback on color choices.
-Comments on dress patterns and design elements.

Section 3: Fit and Comfort
-Rating on dress fit.
-Feedback on material quality and comfort.

Section 4: Open Feedback
-Suggestions for design improvement.
-Any other comments or feedback.

When structuring your survey:
-Think like a respondent. Make sure the flow feels intuitive.
-Use section headers to clearly indicate different topic areas.
-If the survey is lengthy, consider providing a progress bar or indicating how long the survey typically takes to complete. This can help set expectations and reduce drop-off rates.

A logically structured survey not only increases the completion rate but also ensures the feedback is structured in a way that’s easier to analyze.

Measure Customer Satisfaction Without Complicating Things

Step 5: Include Skip Logic and Conditional Branching

Skip logic and conditional branching are advanced survey features that help tailor the survey experience based on a respondent’s answers. By doing so, participants are only presented with questions relevant to them, leading to a more personalized and accurate survey experience.

In the context of the clothing store, if a respondent indicates they haven’t purchased a summer dress, you can use skip logic to direct them away from detailed product-specific questions and maybe ask about the reasons they didn’t make a purchase or their general preferences.

Skip Logic Template for Summer Dress Feedback Survey

Question: Have you purchased one of our summer dresses?


If ‘Yes’ is selected: Proceed to the next question about specific feedback on the dress.

If ‘No’ is selected: Skip to the question: “What factors influenced your decision not to purchase our summer dress?”

When implementing skip logic:

-Clearly map out the respondent’s potential paths. A flowchart can be handy here.
-Ensure that the survey experience feels smooth. There shouldn’t be any abrupt jumps or transitions.
-Test the survey multiple times to ensure the logic works correctly and that respondents aren’t accidentally skipping important sections or getting stuck in a loop.

Remember, the main goal is to make the survey as relevant and frictionless as possible for each participant, ensuring higher completion rates and more accurate data.

Step 6: Test the Survey Before Launching

Testing your survey is essential to catch any issues or inconsistencies before it reaches a broader audience. This step allows you to double-check that questions are clear, the flow is logical, and that all technical aspects (like skip logic) work as intended.

Example: For our summer dress collection feedback survey, you might have a small group of colleagues or trusted customers take the survey. After they complete it, ask for feedback on clarity, length, and any technical hiccups they experienced.

Survey Testing Feedback Form

Survey Name: Summer Dress Feedback Survey

1. Clarity of Questions:

Were all questions easy to understand?

If “No”, which questions were confusing? 

2. Survey Length:

Was the survey:
-Too long
-Just right
-Too short

3. Technical Issues:

Did you encounter any technical issues or glitches while taking the survey?

If “Yes”, please describe the issue. 

4. Flow and Logic:

Did the survey flow feel logical?
-Were there any sections or questions that felt out of place or redundant?

5. General Feedback:

Any other comments or suggestions for improving the survey?

When testing:

-Choose a diverse group of testers to get varied feedback.
-Encourage honesty. Let testers know that their feedback is crucial for the survey’s success.
-Make necessary revisions based on feedback. It’s better to take the time to adjust now rather than discover issues after the survey is live.

A well-tested survey not only ensures a smooth experience for respondents but also ensures that the data you collect will be valid and actionable.

Step 7: Decide on Distribution Methods

The way you distribute your customer survey can significantly influence response rates and the type of feedback you receive. It’s essential to choose a distribution method that aligns with your target audience and survey objectives.

Example: For our summer dress feedback survey, you might distribute the survey via:

  • An email campaign to customers who’ve purchased the summer dress.
  • A popup or banner on your website for customers who’ve bought or browsed the summer dress collection.
  • A feedback QR code is on the product tag, allowing for immediate customer evaluation post-purchase.

Survey Distribution Plan

Survey Name: Summer Dress Feedback Survey

Target Audience: Customers who’ve purchased or shown interest in the summer dress collection.

1. Distribution Method: Email Campaign
-Tool/Platform: (e.g., Mailchimp, SendinBlue)
-Scheduled Date:
-Follow-up Reminder: [ ] Yes [ ] No (If yes, specify date:)

2. Distribution Method: Website Popup/Banner
-Tool/Platform: (e.g., OptinMonster, Sumo)
-Start Date:
-End Date:

3. Distribution Method: QR Code on Product Tag
-QR Code Generator Tool: (e.g., QR Code Monkey, GoQR)
-Implementation Date: 

When deciding on distribution:

-Think about where your target audience is most active and receptive.
-Ensure your survey is mobile-optimized if you’re also collecting feedback via QR codes.
-Monitor response rates. If they’re lower than expected, consider tweaking your distribution strategy or message to encourage participation.

Remember, the goal is to make it as easy and appealing as possible for your target audience to participate in the survey.

Step 8: Offer Incentives Wisely

Incentives can significantly boost response rates, but they need to be used wisely. The incentive should be relevant and appealing to your target audience. It’s also crucial to ensure that the incentive doesn’t introduce bias, where people participate just for the reward and don’t provide genuine feedback.

For this specific customer survey, you might offer a 10% discount on their next purchase or enter respondents into a lucky draw to win a free summer dress. This not only encourages participation but is also closely related to the product in question.

Survey Incentive Plan

Survey Name: Summer Dress Feedback Survey

1. Incentive Type: Discount on Next Purchase
-Discount Percentage: 10%
-Validity Period: (e.g., One month from the date of survey completion)

2. Incentive Type: Lucky Draw
-Prize: Free Summer Dress
-Draw Date: 
-Terms & Conditions: (e.g., Must be 18 or older, one entry per person, etc.)

Note to Participants: “Your honest feedback is vital to us. Please provide genuine responses to help us serve you better.”

When offering incentives:

-Clearly communicate the terms and conditions.
-Ensure the reward process is smooth. If offering a discount, make sure the discount code works seamlessly.
-Remember that while incentives can boost response rates, the quality of feedback is paramount. It’s better to have fewer genuine responses than many inauthentic ones.

Incentives, when used effectively, can be a great way to show appreciation to your customers for their time and effort in providing feedback.

Step 9: Monitor and Adjust in Real-Time

As responses start coming in for the survey, it’s essential to monitor the results and be prepared to adjust the survey, as necessary. This ensures that any issues are addressed promptly, and it allows you to get the most out of your survey initiative.

In the example we’ve taken, let’s say you notice that 70% of respondents are dropping off at question 5. Upon inspection, you find that the question is worded confusingly. Adjusting the phrasing or format of the question can mitigate the dropout rate.

Survey Monitoring Log

Survey Name: Summer Dress Feedback Survey
Start Date:
Monitoring Date:

1. Response Rate:
-Targeted Respondents: 1000
-Responses Received: 600
-Completion Rate: 60%

2. Dropout Points:
-Major Dropout at Question #: 5
-Possible Reason: Confusing wording.
-Action Taken: Reworded the question for clarity.

3. Feedback on Incentive:
-Number of Inquiries: 20
-Issues Reported: Trouble applying discount code.
-Action Taken: Fixed the code issue and informed affected respondents.

When monitoring and adjusting:

-Use analytics and reporting features available in your survey tool. This will help identify trends and potential issues.
-Stay open to feedback. Sometimes, respondents might reach out directly with concerns or problems they encountered.
-Regularly check in. The frequency will depend on your survey’s duration and volume of responses. For short-term surveys, a daily check might be needed, while for longer surveys, a weekly review might suffice.

Being proactive during the survey period not only ensures a smoother experience for your respondents but also guarantees more reliable and actionable feedback.

Step 10: Analyze and Interpret the Data

Once your survey has concluded, the next critical step is analyzing and interpreting the data collected. Proper analysis will allow you to gain insights, identify trends, and make informed decisions based on the feedback.

Example: From the customer survey example we’ve taken, perhaps you find that 80% of respondents loved the fabric, but 60% found the fit to be inconsistent. This insight can help you prioritize fit adjustments in the next product iteration while retaining the current fabric.

Survey Data Analysis Report

Survey Name: Summer Dress Feedback Survey

1. Key Metrics:
-Total Respondents: 1000
-Completion Rate: 85%

2. Main Findings:

Fabric Satisfaction:
-Satisfied: 80%
-Neutral: 15%
-Unsatisfied: 5%

Dress Fit:
-Consistent: 40%
-Inconsistent: 60%

3. Key Insights:
-Most customers appreciate the fabric quality.
-There’s a significant issue with the fit consistency, which needs to be addressed.

4. Recommendations:
-Retain the fabric supplier and consider feedback for any new fabric choices.
-Review the manufacturing process or sizing guidelines to improve fit consistency.

When analyzing and interpreting data:

-Use visualization tools (like charts or graphs) to make data more digestible.
-Look for patterns and correlations, but remember that correlation doesn’t always imply causation.
-Consider segmenting the data, for instance, by age or purchase history, to uncover more nuanced insights.
-Keep your main objectives in mind. Always tie back your findings to the primary goals of the survey.

The power of a survey lies not just in data collection but in how you use that data to drive action and improvement.

Step 11: Share Findings and Implement Changes

Once you’ve analyzed and interpreted the survey data, it’s crucial to share your findings with relevant stakeholders and implement the changes based on feedback. Sharing keeps everyone informed, fosters a customer-centric culture, and ensures that insights lead to actionable steps for improvement. Close the feedback loop with customers. 

After the summer dress feedback survey, you might hold a team meeting to discuss the findings and use meeting minutes software to keep track of any decisions made for later use. Following the insights about fabric satisfaction and fit inconsistency, you could decide to collaborate with the design team to address fit issues while maintaining the popular fabric choice.

Template for Sharing Findings:

Survey Findings Presentation

Slide 1: Introduction
-Survey Name: Summer Dress Feedback Survey
-Purpose: Assess customer satisfaction with the summer dress collection

Slide 2: Key Metrics
-Total Respondents: 1000
-Completion Rate: 85%

Slide 3: Main Findings
-Fabric Satisfaction: 80% positive feedback
-Fit Consistency: 60% found it inconsistent

Slide 4: Key Insights and Recommendations
-Retain the current fabric choice.
-Collaborate with the design team to address fit issues.

Slide 5: Action Plan
-Review the manufacturing process for fit consistency.
-Conduct a follow-up survey after implementing changes.

Slide 6: Questions & Discussion

When sharing and implementing:

-Make sure the findings are clear and actionable. Avoid jargon or overly complex data visualizations.
-Encourage open discussion. Team members might have additional insights or suggestions based on the feedback.
-Prioritize actions based on both the importance and feasibility of changes.
-Continually measure the impact of the changes. Did customer satisfaction improve after addressing the fit issues?

Remember, the end goal of any survey is to gather insights that lead to meaningful actions. It’s not just about knowing what your customers think but about leveraging that knowledge for continuous improvement.

7 Hacks to Create Customer Surveys that Get Responses

If you’re looking to boost the response rate and quality of your customer surveys, consider the following seven hacks:

  • Keep it Short and Simple: Long surveys can deter customers from completing them. Limit your survey to the most essential questions. If a customer sees that the survey will only take 2-3 minutes of their time, they’re more likely to finish it.
  • Use a Mix of Question Types: Instead of sticking to one format, use a combination of multiple-choice, ranking, Likert scale, and open-ended questions. This not only makes the survey more engaging but also provides a more comprehensive insight.
  • Personalize the Survey: Personalization can make a customer feel like their opinion truly matters. Address the customer by name and tailor questions based on their specific interactions with your business. For instance, if they recently made a purchase, ask about that specific product.
  • Avoid Leading Questions: Questions that suggest an answer can skew results. Instead of asking, “How much did you love our product?”, consider a neutral question like, “How would you rate your satisfaction with our product?”
  • Incentivize Participation: Offering a small incentive can significantly increase response rates. This could be in the form of a discount, entry into a giveaway, or a small freebie. However, ensure that the incentive doesn’t unintentionally bias the results.
  • Optimize for Mobile: Many customers will access your survey on their mobile devices. Ensure that the survey is mobile-friendly, with responsive design and easy-to-click options.
  • Timely Reminders: Send the survey soon after the customer’s interaction with your brand, while the experience is still fresh in their minds. If they haven’t responded within a certain timeframe, consider sending a gentle reminder. But be careful not to overdo it – you don’t want to come off as spammy.

Lastly, always thank your respondents. A simple “thank you” at the end of the survey, or a follow-up thank-you email shows how grateful you are that your customers took the time to fill out the survey. 

Craft Customer Surveys with Ease

Understanding your customers is the cornerstone of any successful business, and surveys offer a direct way to gain those insights. 

With tools like Hiver, not only can you create efficient customer surveys, but you can easily analyze the feedback received. This makes it simpler to assess customer satisfaction, evaluate the quality of your service, and identify areas of improvement.

Remember, it’s not just about asking questions – it’s about understanding the answers and using them to grow your business. 

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A passionate content marketer, Nidhi writes value-driven, actionable content for various teams such as customer service, finance, IT and HR. Her expertise lies in helping these teams engage, collaborate, and manage their workload better - by shedding insights on best practices and industry trends. When not working, you'll find her tuning in to marketing and support-related podcasts, while also planning her next vacation.

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