5 Ideas for Smarter Surveys that Provide Targeted Customer Service Data

Smart Survey happy CSAT.AI dog comforting worried dog

5 Ideas for Smarter Surveys that Provide Targeted Customer Service Data

  1. Hit the Target 
  2. Keep it Short  
  3. Timing is Crucial 
  4. Make it Fun 
  5. Say Thank You

Yes, survey fatigue exists and surveys often suck, but they don’t have to. According to Microsoft’s 2018 Global Customer Service Report 90% of respondents believe brands should give them the opportunity to provide feedback, but over 75% said that brands only give them a chance to do so half the time or less. Customers want you to know how they feel. They don’t want to be blindsided by an epic survey full of non applicable questions that interrupts them trying to get their issue solved. The key is smarter surveys that give you usable customer service data, while keeping customers happy.

1) Hit the Target

Use predictive analysis to identify subsections of your customer base, then target questions toward those customers. For example, identify the most unhappy customers and use a survey to find out what made them unhappy. 

Conversely, identify the happiest customers and find out what pleased them. This way you discover what is working and what is not. Much more granular data than what results from generic questions like, “would you recommend this product to a friend?” 

AI has come a long way. Apps that track customer service interactions for emotional markers help identify customer sentiment. Parsing past data enables these tools to even predict future customer action and sentiment. Purchase history, indicated preferences, search habits combined with customer service interactions provide data from which the AI can predict future activity.

For unhappy customers that means activity like those who purchase infrequently, abandon cart items, search for items your company doesn’t carry, have negative service interactions, or make negative social media references to your company. 

Your happiest customers are frequent purchasers, return to your sites often, praise your products directly or through social channels or have excellent service experiences. They may even share their happiness about your products with their friends and family. 

2) Keep it short

Stay away from epic surveys, especially those that start without telling the customer how long they’ll be. That is a quick way to have a customer abandon the survey and perhaps your brand. 

If you do the groundwork in #1 and identify a subset of customers this will help you create more targeted, thus more useful, questions. Even a single question survey offers actionable data when crafted carefully with your end KPI goal in mind.

Use targeted compound questions for smarter surveys. These offer multiple pieces of data in a single question rather than multiple questions covering each issue and rating them 1-5. Example:

Survey image with cartoon CSAT.AI dog

3) Timing is Crucial

The timing of a survey impacts whether or not you receive usable, granular data or not.

Providing a customer with a survey immediately after a customer service interaction, while the experience is fresh in their mind, is not always the best time. If the customer had a difficult interaction they may still be feeling intense negative emotion and a survey is a great opportunity for them to unleash their anger on your brand.

The type of product or service is also important in regard to timing. It shows lack of empathy to expect a patient leaving a hospital after a surgical procedure or life altering diagnosis to fill out a survey. Plus, they may not be in the best frame of mind to give useful feedback.

There is little point in hitting a customer with a survey when they are still in the midst of getting their problem solved either, but it frequently happens. 

Know your product and your customer base. Apps like those mentioned in #1 help you understand your customers’ preferences, needs and habits. Use that information to finesse your survey timing.

4) Make it Fun

Customers are people not machines. They prefer conversations over questionnaires, and more can be gained by intelligent conversation.

Sephora has an app called Virtual Artist that allows customers to virtually try on products before purchasing them. It’s like one of the beautifying Instagram filters, but you get to know the names of the colors and can make the look happen in real life too. This is a great example of providing value while garnering that precious data. It’s like a survey without a survey. Sephora acquires data from their customers by what they search and try on including what the most tried on colors and brands are, and the most purchased.

Surveys can meet the customers where they want to be, as in the Sephora example, or invite them to play.

Turn a survey into a game. It could be an actual video game or quiz style game, or using questions that have a creative element. If your brand is known for a whimsical, relaxed or humorous tone use that to make surveys interesting and on brand. A pet supply brand could playfully address surveys to their customers’ pets, for example. 

Another idea is to play the hot and cold game with a question:

With cold being not so good and on fire being awesome, how would you rate our last event:

  • ice    
  • cool   
  • lukewarm  
  • hot
  • on fire 

Done sparingly and while asking real questions humor is a useful tool.

5) Say Thank you

When your customers buy your product they give you money and you give them your product. It’s an exchange of value. When your customers give you feedback that is valuable too. Give them something in return. At the very least thank them, though you might be looked at as the out of touch uncle who gives their nephew an old fishing pole from the garage for their birthday. Here are some better ideas:

  • Offer a deal – Include a percentage off next purchase, free shipping, or buy one get one… You get the idea. These have been around for a long time, but many don’t offer them post-survey.
  • Provide an experience – Like the gamification examples in #4, give your customers a fun moment.
  • Show recognition – People want to know when they’ve had a positive impact. Let your customers know when you develop a new product, service or feature based on their feedback.
  • Give them a gift – Who doesn’t like presents? Whether a gift from your product line or a useful item with your logo on it, invest in a physical object to show appreciation for their time.

image of CSAT.AI survey feature with cartoon dog
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