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How To Design A Customer Satisfaction Survey

Originally Published on 01/08/2019

Customer satisfaction surveys are a great way to find out how your clients feel about your company and the service you provide.

But how do you make sure you’re gathering high quality data that you can act upon?

Here are ten ways to make sure that your survey generates useful information for you and your business…

Ask for an overall rating first

Rather than pushing customers into the deep end with granular questions, start with a general rating of their overall experience. This ensures the rating isn’t influenced by having respondents focus on details they might otherwise have disliked.

Don’t make your survey too long

According to SurveyMonkey, a typical survey respondent spends 1 minute 15 seconds on the first question, and an average of five minutes to get through ten questions. 

Any longer and people tend to race through the survey, meaning the quality of the data suffers and you’ll miss out on interesting insights. You should therefore try to keep your survey as short as you can.

Offer small rating choices

A 1 to 5 scale is the most common scale for a reason: people find it easy to use. If your scale runs up to 10, you’re inviting respondents to question the difference between 6 and 7, or 3 and 4… this can result in a rushed survey, sacrificing the accuracy of responses in favour of getting the survey done and dusted quickly.

Use emotive language

If you’re asking a multiple choice question, such as “How did you find post-application service?”, then give options that evoke distinctive and different responses.

For example, customers might find it hard to differentiate between “Good” and “Excellent”, so perhaps the top rating could instead be “Loved it!” or “Wonderful”, so they can better define their experience.

Don’t be intrusive

Avoid intrusive questions such as anything about religion, income, age or gender. If you’re after that data, those questions should be labelled as optional.

Avoid industry jargon

Unless your customers work in the same industry as you do, don’t assume they understand specialist terminology. Instead, use plain English as if you were speaking to a friend, rather than a colleague.

Send surveys early

The best time to send a survey is right after the customer has had an experience with your business or brand. This ensures their emotions are fresh in their mind. The exception is when you’re sending customers a survey on the long-term life of a service or product.

Don’t hassle

In some circumstances, you can remind customers that you recently sent them a
satisfaction survey, but any more and you’ll likely annoy them, resulting in a negative response.

Include open text fields

Open text fields give respondents the opportunity to express their personal opinions
of your service without the confines of a 1 to 5 rating. It also opens the possibility of getting some unique praise that you could feature as a review on your website.

Say thank you 

The more personal the better, ideally in person should you ever have a meeting with that customer. An email will be fine too, but make sure it doesn’t come across as a standard robotic message.


Where are you performing strongly? Are there any areas for improvement? Are you missing out on quick wins that could delight customers? Would previous clients recommend you to a friend?

If you apply these ten principles to your next customer satisfaction survey, you’ll be well
on your way to getting answers to these questions and setting your business up for future success.

Read more: The Brokers' Guide to Customer Experience

Read more: Why mortgage brokers need a customer retention strategy

How To Design A Customer Satisfaction Survey

How To Design A Customer Satisfaction Survey

To help you create effective customer satisfaction surveys, we've put together 10 principles to keep in mind.

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