Survey Basics: 5 Steps to Actionable Feedback

Survey Basics: Steps to Actionable Feedback by Usabilla
5 min read

Time and time again, our customers approach us with the same question: “What kind of customer feedback questions will give me the best results?” While we wish there was a secret window into our users’ psyche to give us all the information we need, unfortunately it’s not quite that easy.

The best we can do is start a conversation with our users. This is the only way to ensure that we are engaging with them in a way that shows we care about how happy they are with our websites, products and services. And really, if our users aren’t happy, then what’s the point?

Steps for a successful survey:

  1. Get the timing right
  2. Perfect your hook
  3. Keep it simple
  4. Don’t trick your users
  5. Put your results in context

1. Timing: The “spam” conundrum

So you want as much feedback as possible from your users. Often people are in one of two camps; the first camp consists of starting the conversation early. Slap a pop-up campaign on the homepage and force the interaction as overall, you’ll yield more results. The second camp tends to be pop-up shy. They’d rather err on the side of capturing only quantitative data than risk scaring a customer away with an unsolicited question or request.

By occasionally serving up “intrusive pop-up” surveys or requests, you are catering to the user by asking them for their input. The key difference between annoyance and engagement will be how and when you engage them. A recent Usabilla study found by incorporating these pop-ups as part of the natural checkout flow (e.g. confirmation of purchase, or recent purchases pages), some clients saw completion rates of up to 52%. That number sounds crazy (and it is) but that’s how much context matters.

2. Hook: Playing to user emotions

Regardless of whether or not we openly show emotion in real life, people seem to have no problem sharing their true feelings when they feel anonymous. Emotional ratings are a pretty intrinsic part of the Usabilla platform, and their value lies in the fact that they allow users to easily express sentiment and avoid you having to interpret your users’ word choice.

Starting with an emotional rating scale for a survey means people can quickly check-in with their overall sentiment and instantly report how your website makes them feel. You might think that such a simple approach can’t give any real insights but check out any of the thousands of articles written lately on the power of emojis in conveying emotion compared to using words alone. Ever tried to send a sarcastic text? Yeah…it doesn’t work.

3. Simplify: Giving the user a few clear options

Survey Basics: Steps to Actionable Feedback by Usabilla

The Paradox of Choice says that if we’re offered too many options, naturally we take pause. We assess our options, and if there are too many, we become overwhelmed and abandon the process completely. When it comes to user surveys, an open text field alone can give the user pause if not given context or a clear logic to why you’re asking for their unbridled opinion.

What does this all mean for your survey questions? The logic goes like this, after asking your user what emotional rating they would choose from hate to love, give the user a few clear topics to choose from so you can categorize their feedback before they even see the questions. After they choose a topic, make sure your questions are phrased specifically for the topic they chose. Easy!

4. Honesty: Don’t trick your users

So you can see the benefit of asking for the initial emotional and branching questions, but what about in longer client surveys? When you launch a survey to users on a particular page or via a specific javascript variable, how do you it make personal to the user and encourage engagement?

Survey Basics: Steps to Actionable Feedback by Usabilla

For starters, whatever you do, don’t ask a block of more than 2 questions at a time when the user first interacts with a longer survey that’s not part of a static feedback mechanism. If you’re going to ask your user more than two pages of questions, add a progress bar to manage their expectations. No one likes to go into a survey expecting to answer just a few questions, then find themselves answering your laundry list of questions 10 minutes later without warning.

5. Contextualize: So that’s all great, but how can I engage my customers so that they actually take the survey?

So why do so many businesses care so little about how their loyal users feel? By sending them 42-question surveys at the beginning of their shopping journey without any personalization, recognition or tailored questions, we make their anonymity very clear. They’re not a valued customer but just another pedestrian that we observe with our clipboards from our corporate skyscraper.

What’s the solution? Launch a series of shorter surveys, create a schedule, track individual user engagements and address loyal users with conversational language honoring the fact that you appreciate their business. Now that we are able to see an entire cross-section of data points about an individual user, including when they’ve purchased certain items, lingered on certain pages and the number of times they’ve returned to your site, use these to your advantage. Proving value, ease-of-purchase, breadth of relevant product information and clear customer care are going to be your other avenues to win them over if you can’t win on price.

It can start out with a simple, “How would you rate your shopping experience today?” with a couple of emotional smileys. Your next question on the following page of the survey would then be tailored to whichever smiley they chose. For some you might try open text, for others multiple choice will be the best way to narrow the scope of your feedback down. Based on the data, you can then start honing in on the parts of the site mentioned and target those areas with surveys of their own.

Regardless of your style, this simple formula can be a great launching point for engaging your users in a simple and friendly way, that will bring you real, actionable results.

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Lily Christensen
Lily is Head of Business Development US and has an MA Honours in Human Geography from the University of St Andrews