By Simon Oldfield, Managing Director of QuestBack, Europe’s largest provider of Enterprise Feedback Management and online surveys

As business managers and owners, capturing the right information is critical to running a successful enterprise. It is important you gain a clear understanding of the issues, concerns and goals of people working in, and of those that employ your business. How can we service our customers, if we don’t know exactly what makes them tick? How can we improve our product offering, if we don’t know if your customers like it? How can we make our employees more productive and improve job satisfaction, if we don’t understand what is going on in their day-to-day working lives?

One of the most effective ways to do this is by conducing regular surveys. But it’s important to go about this in the right way. It is all well and good conducting regular surveys and questionnaires, but the real value comes in asking the right questions, in the right way, and then analysing the responses, so you can actually use the results to improve your business.

To help you get the most out of your customer and employer feedback, and develop surveys that work, here is my step—by—step guide, developed from our experience and knowledge gained as the leading provider of collecting, analysis and follow-up of business critical information.

1.Planning your survey


Be sure to invest enough time in planning and preparing for your survey. There is little point in rushing through a survey, only to find that you haven’t thought about exactly what you want to achieve, and not ended up with the right feedback and information.

Stop and ask yourself first:

- What do you want to find out from your customers or your employees?

- Who do you want to find out this from? All of your employees or customers, or just a segment of them?

- Who is responsible for analysing the results, and following up afterwards?

When to conduct surveys

Whilst it’s great to conduct annual satisfaction surveys, it’s also useful to introduce short and frequent surveys that relate to specific customer processes or employee HR reviews. These should be done to provide feedback at important milestones in the respondent’s relationship with the business. For example, once an employee has reached the end of their three-month review phase or after a customer has completed a purchase, or the business has completed a customer contract. This way, the experience is fresh in the respondent’s mind, and they’ll perceive the survey as relevant — resulting in improved response rates. This also gives your business the ability to respond quickly to any issues in a time efficient manner.

2.Designing your survey

Write your email invitation

It’s important that you write a short introduction to explain to the respondent why you’ve sent them a survey, why you require the information from them, how long it will take (the shorter the better!), and any benefits or incentives they’ll receive as a result of completing the survey.

Making your survey stand out

Presentation is always important in life, and surveys are no exception. The more that you can tailor your survey so it reflects your corporate branding and personality, the better. Start with uploading your logo, to make it clear that the survey is for your purpose and your purpose only. If the software that you are using allows you to do so, tailor the layout so it matches your company’s visual profile and branding.

Masked or unmasked?

You’ll need to decide if you want to know you exactly has responded to your survey. Some people are uncomfortable providing personal information, and in some instances, the requirement to be named can dissuade them from completing the survey, or being totally honest about any negative experiences. At other times, you may need to know the identity of the person so you can effectively follow up. Another option is to give the customer the possibility to choose for themselves if they want to provide personal details or not.

How long?

A rule of thumb — the shorter the better! Don’t waste customer and employee time by including questions that aren’t strictly relevant or important, or you could find that in future, they are less likely to participate in surveys.

Structure, structure,sStructure

Just like writing an essay back at school, surveys also need to have a beginning, middle, and end.

Beginning: Start the survey with “warm up” questions that are simple, to get the respondent into the rhythm.
Middle: Then move into more important and demanding questions, which form the main part of the survey.
End: Close the survey with the “cool off” questions, such as demographics. Also, people are much more likely to open up with personal information once they are in the swing of responding to a survey.

Don’t forget to use the routing functionality — if all questions are not relevant to all respondents, be sure to direct them onto the next relevant question based on their answer to their previous question.

3.Sending out your survey

How to distribute surveys

If you have their email addresses, then this is by far the easiest way to send out your survey. Otherwise, surveys can be distributed via weblinks on websites or through social media channels or intranets.


Think about your audience and when it would be best for them to receive your survey, so you can increase your response rates. As a general rule, avoid Monday mornings and Friday afternoons, when people are either busy or likely to be out of the office.

Avoid deadlines

In our experience, putting a deadline on a survey has a negative impact on response rates. Respondents usually postpone answering until the deadline, but often end up forgetting altogether. Just ask them to respond as soon as possible.

4.Use your results!

It’s all well and good collecting feedback from customers and employees, but if you don’t analyse it, and then act on it, you’ve essentially wasted your time and theirs. Looking the results and using feedback to make improvements in the business is the most important part of your customer survey, and can help your business in innumerable ways — from improving customer service, raising employee retention and satisfaction levels, to fixing problems with products or services, or changing pricing structures.

Ask & Act

At QuestBack, we call this process Ask & Act. First, you “Ask” to collect business feedback, and ask the relevant questions through your survey, and then you “Act” on the feedback by analysing, and turning in your knowledge into results, and using it for decision-making and improvements to your business.

Studies show that only 10 per cent of businesses actually use the feedback they collect for improving their business, and only 5 per cent communicate any decisions or improvements back to their respondents. Don’t be in the majority percentile, and be sure to put all your efforts to good use — and tell your respondents about your hard work to make their experiences better too, to make them feel important and improve relationships.

Best of luck creating effective surveys for your customers and employees!
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