Customer feedback is essential to improving your product, your delivery, and even your fundamental understanding of your users. Most companies know this, but struggle to gather enough good feedback to act on. Why? It could be as simple as the fact that many companies don’t actually ask for feedback. Those that do often make it hard for users to provide feedback, or the customer feedback forms themselves ask the wrong questions.

Here are nine tips for designing and writing customer feedback forms that get more responses and more useful feedback for improving your business.

Part 1:
The best customer feedback forms are user friendly—meaning they have a simple design and straightforward instructions, and they’re easy to fill in. They’re relatively easy to build, too, because because they don’t require any complex data or payment details. Follow these five tips for designing easy-to-use feedback forms with higher completion rates:

1. Leave plenty of white space.
The form should appear uncluttered and easy on the eye. A cluttered form scares people away because it looks time-consuming and hard.

2. Label the form fields well.
Make sure what you’re asking is clear and concise (more on this in the next section). This includes being visually clear: Placing each label close to its corresponding field reduces the time it takes for a user to complete the form. The further the label is from the field, the more the user’s eye has to travel back and forth to avoid making a mistake. This increases time, effort, and frustration.

3. Don’t make any fields compulsory.
Make it as easy as possible for users to provide even small amounts of feedback. If the user doesn’t want to answer one of the four questions, don’t stop them from submitting the form. Never forget that customers are doing you a favor—they don’t owe you anything.

4. Set the tabbing order.
This means marking up the form fields during development to create a logical flow. This is helpful for desktop and mobile users who wish to tab through the form using the keyboard rather than lifting their mouse or finger to move to the next field.

5. Make it compatible with mobile devices.
If you follow the above rules you’ll already be halfway to a form that looks as good on mobile as on a desktop. Make sure the form is responsive (i.e., it resizes depending on the device it’s being viewed on).

Bonus tip: Feedback forms can also benefit from feedback! But since it would be strange to ask for feedback on a feedback form, use form analytics to detect where users are struggling to complete your form. Look for the fields where users spend the most time, make the most corrections, or are otherwise slowed down or stopped.

Part 2:
Visual appeal and usability aren’t the only important factors in creating your customer feedback form. What you’re asking about and the way the questions or field labels are worded also impact the success and completion rate of your form. Here are four tips to help you find the right words:

6. Write little, but well.
Cut down the number of questions in the form so it only includes those that have the clear goal of gaining a better understanding of your users’ experience. The fewer questions, the better. Stuck coming up with ideas? Here’s a list of 29 possible questions to ask users about your service, with sections for getting feedback on your website, your product, and your competitors.

Avoid jargon and keep language simple and consistent (e.g., in your feedback form, use the same terms you use in your product).

7. Find out what you don’t know.
The most useful feedback helps you learn something you didn’t already know. What’s hidden in your product that you aren’t aware of? Do your customers use the product differently than you expected?

The best way to learn something new is to include a “free text” box. It also shows your users that you care about what they have to say. Multiple choice fields only give you the answers you’re expecting, in your company’s own language.

Don’t waste your users’ time and energy asking for information that you already have (like the product they purchased). If there are things you know about the user from your interactions with them, you should do the work of connecting that data to their feedback when you do your analysis; don’t put that burden on the user.

8. Create consistent rating scales.
If your feedback form includes more than one question with a rating scale, make sure that the scales are consistent from question to question. If 1 is the best and 5 is the worst in one question, don’t change the scale from 1 to 10 on the next question.

In information fields that have multiple choice questions, conventional wisdom says that you should pre-select the most common answer to lighten the load for users. However, this advice doesn’t apply to feedback forms. Don’t pre-select any answer in this case, because it’s leading, which is less useful and makes you look untrustworthy.

9. When in doubt, don’t ask.
Feedback forms are often used to gather marketing information and learn more about the demographics of your users. Questions like ‘How did you hear about us?’ might help you gauge the success of your marketing campaigns, but your users don’t see how they benefit from what you learn. Farhan Urfi, creative director of branding agency Small Back Room, also points out that many people might not be able to give an accurate answer to questions like ‘How did you hear about us?’

Asking marketing questions could even result in lower response rates as users are less likely to feel motivated to fill in the form because the responses can only be used to gain new customers, not to improve the experience for existing users.

Bonus tip: Use the information you already have about your users to personalise the feedback process (e.g., “John, can you help us improve our service by answering some questions about your experience upgrading your account?”).

As you launch your feedback form, it’s important to think about your plan for responding to and acting on the feedback that you get. Listen to upset users on an individual basis, respond to them, and win them over if you can. Promising a speedy response to complaints may be one way to increase the amount of feedback you get.

However, you don’t need to think about changing your product or service until you can verify to what extent the issue affects your users. Feedback is characteristically biased to be either very good or very bad, as it comes from people passionate enough to give feedback. Look for patterns in the responses you receive.

At Formisimo, our own tool is always evolving based on customer feedback. We look for insights from every interaction with our customers. What sometimes starts out as a creative workaround for one customer can lead to a new feature if more customers provide feedback that uncovers similar needs.