Image courtesy of Pixabay

I originally wrote today’s post for CallidusCloudCX. It appeared on their blog on March 24, 2017.

There’s a lot of talk about improving the customer experience.

And there’s a lot of talk about using surveys to listen to customers so that we know where we need to improve the experience.

But have you ever considered that those very surveys are another touchpoint in the customer experience? That the experience with the survey must be considered and improved as much as the experience with any other touchpoint?

If you haven’t, then it’s time to start thinking about your surveys differently.

What are some of the areas that you need to consider as you design the survey experience? Read on, as I’ve put them into somewhat chronological categories to help you walk through the experience yourself. It wouldn’t hurt to actually map the survey experience from the customer’s perspective.


Like with any other experience you’re going to design, you want to make sure you personalize the survey experience to the audience. So, first things first: make sure you’ve got the right people in your respondent pool. And then make sure the topic and the questions are relevant for the audience.

As you think about the audience, also consider how often you will survey them. You’ll want to make sure that the survey cadence is just right, e.g., don’t survey one customer more than once every six months, and that you prioritize that cadence across surveys, too. In other words, if you’re fielding multiple surveys at a time, ensure that the touches and the frequency are prioritized so that one person does not get multiple surveys too frequently within a specified period of time.


Multichannel doesn’t just apply to customer interactions; your listening posts (all, not just surveys)  should also be multichannel. Offer up a variety of ways/modes for customers to provide feedback. Let them provide feedback via whatever mode or channel is easiest for them. Make sure your surveys are mobile-friendly/responsive.

Speaking of modes, don’t forget to listen and to ask; there’s a difference.

Survey Design
When creating your surveys, make sure you use survey design best practices. There are many “rules” to consider, but start with:

  • Keep surveys short and simple.
  • Ask questions that are  relevant to the audience.
  • Ask unambiguous (clear, not double-barreled) questions.
  • Don’t use corporate language and acronyms; instead, use customer-friendly language that they can easily understand.
  • Speaking of languages, if you serve a global base, offer up your surveys in various languages.
  • Make sure each question is actionable. If the survey isn’t actionable, you’re wasting your customers’ time.
  • Make the survey easy to use; in other words, check for grammar, make sure skips aren’t broken, etc.
  • Ask open-ended questions (not too many) to allow respondents to share thoughts about things that you may not cover in your closed-ended questions.
  • The look and feel of the survey should match your branding; don’t confuse customers (and possibly scare them away) by using a look and feel that doesn’t align with your corporate branding.

This may seem like something that doesn’t impact the respondent’s survey experience, but it does. Make sure you survey the customer in a timely manner. If you send a survey about an experience that took place six months ago, the customer will be frustrated because he won’t recall the details of the experience. Be timely in your deployments.

While you might also think that Act has nothing to do with the respondent experience, it actually has everything to do with it!

Why are you asking for feedback? Why are you listening?

You need to use that feedback; do something with it. Action takes place at strategic, tactical, and personal levels. (The latter includes not only personalizing experiences but also conducting follow-up/service recovery calls as a result of survey feedback.) And then let customers know what improvements you made as a result of the feedback and how those improvements will impact them. That communication is important to the experience. When customers know how you used their feedback, they feel like they didn’t waste their time providing it and will, as a result, likely continue to tell you how you’re performing in the future.


Respondents often provide feedback about your surveys that should be considered in order to improve the respondent experience. They may not understand the point of a question, may have gotten questions not relevant to them, called out ambiguous questions, told you about broken links, etc. These are easy fixes to make in order to improve the experience.

In addition, as you make improvements to the experience about which you’re receiving feedback, the survey should be changed to reflect and to measure those improvements. Read verbatims and capture any emerging trends or issues about which you’d like to learn more; incorporate those into your survey or listening posts going forward.

And you thought surveys were just as simple as set and forget! They really aren’t. A lot of care and thought needs to be put into designing surveys so that they, too, are a great experience for your customers.

The more you talk about them, the more important they will feel. The more you listen to them, the more important you will make them feel. -Roy T. Bennett