andibreit / Pixabay

Staying competitive in business today requires meeting and exceeding customer expectations. To do that, you first need to know what their expectations are. One of the best ways to find out exactly what your customers want is by collecting customer feedback through questionnaires.

By sending questionnaires to your customers, you can gather insights that will help you improve their experiences and move your business forward. But, as you probably already know, getting responses to your questionnaires isn’t always easy.

The fact is, many questionnaires aren’t designed well, which leads to poor response rates and a lot of wasted effort. The key to driving responses is taking a thoughtful approach to creating a well-designed questionnaire that encourages your customers to share their valuable thoughts with you.

5 tips for creating a questionnaire that gets you responses

Keep it short

One of the biggest ways to increase response rates to your questionnaires is by limiting the length. The longer the questionnaire is, the more likely you’ll cause survey fatigue and the less likely customers will be to respond. Our general recommendation is to limit your questionnaire to no more than 10 questions or 5 minutes to complete.

Stick to the most important questions, and only ask for the information that’s essential. If you can find a piece of information about the customer somewhere else, for example in your CRM, then it’s best not to ask for that. Instead, ask something you couldn’t find on your own.

Using a survey tool with a logic feature can help you cut down on redundant or irrelevant questions by adding or skipping questions based on a customer’s previous answers. This way, you tailor the questionnaire to each individual customer and get the most meaningful answers.

Always tell your customers how long the questionnaire will take. This lets them know what to expect and can be a helpful reference point. If at any time they feel the questionnaire is dragging out, they’ll be able to assess how much longer they can expect to take. This can get more customers through the finish line.

One other note: Be wary of sending too many questionnaires per customer. as this can also lead to fatigue and lack of responsiveness. You can safely survey customers every two months. Any more than that and customers will just be too taxed to respond.

Structure questions carefully

On a similar note, keep your questions short and to-the-point. Indirect questions can confuse and frustrate customers, causing them to drop out of the questionnaire before finishing it.

Ambiguity in your phrasing can also result in lower quality data for you when customers misinterpret the question and provide irrelevant answers. Review your questions with a fine-toothed comb to ensure they’re crystal clear.

When it comes to the way you set up your question types, there are a lot of options, like multiple choice, ranking, and short answer. Question types that allow for longer-form answers are valuable but keep in mind that they take longer for customers to complete, so use them sparingly.

Instead, use more closed-ended questions like multiple choice and rating scales. These take less time and effort, making customers more likely to answer them. As an added bonus, the data generated by closed-ended questions are easier to analyze.

Make it contextual

Contextual means that your surveys are placed within the appropriate setting so that customers know exactly what you would like feedback on. Sending contextual questionnaires will boost response rates because customers have a strong point of reference for giving their feedback. Wherever possible, send the questionnaire through the same channel where the customer is already interacting with you, and make it about their specific experience.

If your customer is browsing your website, for example, you can send them a quick in-app questionnaire to get their feedback on things like the design of the website. Or if they’re chatting with your customer support team, then you can send a questionnaire at the end of the chat. You can even use a CRM integration to make this happen automatically.

Another key component when it comes to context is timing. Before sending a questionnaire, think through whether or not it’s going to make sense from the customer’s point of view. If you’re sending a questionnaire regarding your product, for example, make sure your customer has been using it long enough to have an opinion.

Be sure not to wait too long, though. You want the experience to be fresh enough in the customer’s mind that they can provide detail in their answers, and that they’ll be motivated to do it.

Speaking of timing, studies have shown that Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday after working hours are the best times to send questionnaires. However, every business and customer base are different. The best bet is to look at your data to see when open and click-through rates are typically highest and send your questionnaire then.

Design it well

A visually appealing questionnaire will encourage customers to engage with it, and one with your brand’s colors and imagery will further connect them to your company. Add a background image or add images to your questions. With GetFeedback, you can save time by using a pre-designed template and adding customization to match your brand style, font, and button colors.

With 30-40% of online surveys being taken on a mobile device, it’s highly likely customers will be trying to complete your questionnaire on their phones, so be sure to optimize your design for mobile.

Along with an attractive design, it’s important for customers to be able to read your questionnaire. Customer attention is hard to capture, and if your questionnaire is difficult to read, then it won’t take long for customers to lose interest.

Use of a font size of at least 16 pixels, and if you’re using a background image, make sure it contrasts with the text so your questions are legible. Review your images to make sure they’re not too busy. While design is an important element in making the questionnaire a pleasant experience, it should complement the questions, not detract from them.

Offer an incentive

Incentives can dramatically increase response rates because you’ll essentially be compensating customers for their time. They’re a great way to boost responses as well as thank your customers for their participation.

One option is a prepaid incentive, where you give everyone something, regardless of whether or not they complete the questionnaire. For example, you could send a 10% discount to everyone. This can be an investment, but research has shown that it can increase response rates by up to three times.

If you’re looking to make a smaller investment, another option is a promised incentive, where customers get something after finishing the questionnaire. This is a good way to boost response rates without giving so much away.

Keep in mind that your questionnaire might not really need any incentive, and be careful not to use them in situations where doing so might introduce bias or change the validity or the responses you get. If you’re not sure, try starting your questionnaire without an incentive, then try introducing it slowly to smaller groups to see what impact it makes.

Wrapping up on creating a successful questionnaire

Questionnaires will help you learn from your customers, improve their experiences, and stay relevant in today’s crowded market. Doing it right requires careful planning and effort, but with these tips, you have everything you need to get started on a questionnaire that gets responses.