Essential Priorities for Improving Survey Design

Whether you are designing a survey for the first time or want to give your existing surveys a refresh, we’ve narrowed down the essential priorities of survey design to focus on. Consider these priorities if you want to maximise the quantity and quality of the customer feedback you receive. The survey itself is part of the customer experience, so it is your responsibility to tailor it to your customer, not only your business priorities. 


We cannot emphasise the importance of this priority enough. If your survey is long, your customers will not want to finish it. The shorter and simpler the survey, the higher the response rate. It’s best to keep questions fairly general and attributable to metrics, but allow customers to give additional feedback in an open text field. 

Be very selective about what questions you ask your customers. You may feel that since you have the opportunity to survey your customers, you should ask them everything that you want to know about. All too often, people from different departments will want to piggyback on a CX survey to find out information that ultimately isn’t relevant to the customer experience. You should do your absolute best to avoid this. Keep your survey on topic. This not only helps with the length, but the survey should serve a specific purpose or goal and not stray. If it is a customer experience or satisfaction survey, don’t ask about marketing or product development unless it is entirely relevant. Your customer is essentially doing your business a favour by responding to your survey, so you should make it topical and easy for them to understand why they are responding. 

If you have additional specific topics you are desperate to learn about, consider adding a single pulse question that changes every month or so so that you can get the insights you need without significantly lengthening your survey.


Keep the wording of your surveys as clear and simple as possible. If your customers are confused by what you are asking, their responses won’t be helpful, or they may become too frustrated to finish your survey. A standard rule of thumb is to never ask two questions in one. “Were the staff kind and helpful?” is an example of a bad question as it is not uncommon for an employee to be nice but unhelpful or vice versa.

To avoid complexity, remove any kind of industry or company jargon from your survey and ensure that each question is very clear and straightforward to answer. If a customer has to read a question twice to understand its meaning, they might think twice about completing the survey at all. Survey questions should be direct and meaningful so that you can gain the most insight from the responses and so the respondent understands the point of the question being asked. 

In addition to the issue of industry jargon, a mistake we often see in survey design is businesses using their internal terminology in customer-facing surveys. Just because a phrase or term is common within the business, doesn’t mean that the customers will understand what you’re talking about. You may have an official name for a department or initiative, for example, but it might not resonate with your customers. Keep it simple to obtain meaningful results and avoid confusion. 


Your survey should be easy to respond to, view and understand. Survey design isn’t just about the questions, but also about your feedback form’s physical layout design. Keep the layout clean and consistent so that it is appealing to the eye of the customer taking it. Avoiding complex matrices which can be difficult to digest and busy backgrounds that can be distracting is a good start. 

It’s useful to think mobile first when designing any survey as many of your customers will be responding on their phones. Test out your survey’s operationalisation on several different devices to ensure it is easy to complete for everyone. A customer shouldn’t have to work to find or fill out your survey, make it as easy and mobile-friendly for them as possible. 

Data Integration

Integrating data into your survey tools is a no brainer for any VoC programme. Still, you need to understand what data should be integrated for each part of the customer journey. It is the deep context that the right integration gives that can deliver the conditions that are necessary to drive positive customer experience outcomes.  Data from places such as your CRM, ERP and contact centre infrastructure should be considered required to derive actionable, comprehensive insights from your feedback gathering endeavours. 

If you have customer information to hand, you shouldn’t ask them about it in a survey. Most businesses should have a treasure trove of customer information that can be integrated from 3rd party sources. A CRM integration allows you to skip over a lot of unnecessary questions to your customers, thereby shortening your surveys. It connects all of your customer data (contact information, demographic information, etc.) to your survey, so your analysis and close-the-loop processes can be streamlined. 

In addition, if you are sending out surveys based on contact centre interactions, we recommend having the infrastructure provider’s solution integrated with your VOC platform. This will give meaningful context to the feedback you receive and will enable you to more easily obtain feedback from your customers as soon as they have an interaction.