The success of a web-based customer survey depends on, among other things, its simplicity. If you have a web-based customer survey that is too complex, people will hesitate from taking part in it. And a good number of those who dare to start the survey will end up being unable to complete it, on account of its complexity.
You have to understand that most people just can’t cope with complexity. The moment they encounter anything that looks even slightly complicated, they just give up (even if it is something they could otherwise have tackled). As such, if you have a customer survey that looks as difficult as an examination, you can be sure that not very many people will be eager to take part in it. And those who embark on it are bound to give up the moment they start encountering difficulties/complexities.
Therefore, while designing a web-based customer survey, you need to make every effort to ensure that it is as simple as it can possibly be. You need to ensure that it feels ‘easy’ from the start to the end. Otherwise you could end up discouraging people who were initially eager on taking part in it from proceeding. You therefore have to design the survey in such a manner that it will be a ‘walkover’ to the people who will be taking part in it. Remember, these are people who will have spared a few minutes of their precious time, to give you feedback so that you can improve your business. The last thing they want is to encounter complexity – and thus end up spending more time and/or energy on the survey than they had planned.
In practical terms, there are at least 7 things you can do, to make your customer survey simple:
- Have a reasonably small number of survey questions: Ideally, a customer survey should have less than 20 questions. If you can do like 10 or 12 questions, it would be even better. But if you have, say, 50 questions, then it is no longer a survey. It is an examination! If you have a 10 or 12-question survey, you can confidently tell the people who will be taking part in it that they only need to spare 3-5 minutes for it. But if you have, say, a 30-question survey, one would need at least 15 minutes to complete it (assuming that answering one survey question takes half a minute). And that – 15 minutes — is the kind of time very few people can spare to complete a survey, unless they are being paid for it! A survey with too many questions will end up being too hard not just to the participants, but also to you (as the business that commissioned the survey). Like if you have a 50-question survey, the data/feedback you stand to get would be too much, and potentially confusing. So you need to know what you are trying to find out through the survey. Then you need to come up with a few well-targeted questions, to give you exactly the feedback you need.
- Frame your survey questions properly: Your survey questions need to be clear. They also need to be brief. If you have a customer survey whose questions are either too long or ambiguous, the people taking part in the survey will perceive it as complexity. And many will give up on the survey the moment they start encountering such long or ambiguous questions.
- Use simple language: It is very important for you to ensure that you don’t use jargon in your survey questions. Some of the people who will be taking part in your customer survey will be individuals who, for one reason or another, are unable to understand hard words/jargon. Yet they are still your customers, and you need their feedback. But even for individuals who are able to understand jargon, its usage in the customer survey is likely to make the survey appear complex. That may then push some of those individuals to refrain from taking part in the survey, even if they understand the hard words. Ideally, your survey questions should be framed in, say, 4th or 5th grade English, just like the newspapers.
- Present the survey questions one by one: So this would be a scheme where, after answering one question, the people taking part in the survey can click on a ‘Next’ button, to be taken to the subsequent question. This is better than presenting all the survey questions in one screen – because, in that case, it would give the impression of an examination (which many people have a deep-seated fear of).
- Ensure that the simple survey questions come first: This way, the people taking part in the survey are bound to get the impression that the entire exercise is ‘simple’. So by the time they come to the harder questions, they would have formed the belief that the entire thing is simple. They therefore wouldn’t even notice the relative ‘complexity’ of the questions that come later. But if you start with the complex questions first, it can be very off-putting. The people who encounter those complex questions first will believe that the entire exercise is complex, and they would refrain from taking part.
- Use a simple authentication system: You need to have a mechanism of ensuring that the people taking part in the customer survey are indeed your customers (and not imposters). But the mechanism must not be too complex, or people will refrain from taking part in the survey on account of it. It suffices, for instance, to have the people taking part in the survey to just enter their receipt numbers. Some businesses require the people taking part in the surveys to just enter the store numbers… Whatever you opt for, you better be sure that it is simple.
- Give participants check-boxes and radio buttons to click on: So this is better than having blank spaces for people to type in their survey question answers. The moment people hear that they will be required to type anything, they will desist from taking part in the survey. But if answering the survey questions is just a matter of clicking on check-boxes or radio buttons, it will look simple, and people will thus be encouraged to take part in the survey.