We've already said it once, but we’ll say it again: Your surveys should be short. Now allow us to add to that: they should also be simple. Take a look at the survey below and ask yourself, “Would I be interested in this survey?”

Q1. Did you like the class we provided?

  • Yes
  • No

Q2. Why do you say that?

Q3. If you responded “No,” what are the reasons it did not make sense?

  • The orientation program wasn’t good
  • It wasn’t offered at a good time
  • It was too expensive
  • I didn’t learn enough
  • It tried to cover too much material
  • The materials I was given weren’t helpful
  • The instructor wasn’t good
  • The take home materials were confusing

Q4. What days would you want the classes to be offered?

  • Monday
  • Tuesday
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
  • Friday

You’re already snoozing, aren’t you? And you didn’t even have to take this survey. So do your clients a favor and don’t send them something like this. Keep it simple. The simpler the survey, the better the chance of strong response rates.

Consider this research finding: When you double the time it takes to complete a survey, you decrease response rates by 15%. Triple the time and you’ll decrease response rates by 30%.

What’s the best way to keep surveys short? Focus on using just three simple question types: 1) binary, 2) scale, and 3) open ends.

Example Purpose Best Used When…
Binary* In your experience with us, has someone provided you with exceptional customer service? Yes or No? Offers a simple, quick read on customer service sentiment. A manager needs to quickly tease out if there is a serious problem.
Scale* On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely would you be to refer our offering to a colleague or friend? Helps measure attitudes with more subtlety than a binary question. A manager is looking for nuance in general sentiment.
Open End What would be a reason for you to stop doing business with us? To gather deeper thoughts and richer examples. A manager is looking for more thoughtful feedback and solutions.

*We always encourage asking “why” after a binary or scale question. While the questions alone are great for top line reads on client sentiment, asking “why” probes deeper and helps provide the tangible facts you’ll need to act on that feedback.

While it might be tempting to just use open-ended questions to get deep responses, this question type takes the longest to answer. Use it too often and you’ll get survey disengagement.

Since we generally limit client surveys to two questions, the best way to use these question types is to pair different questions together. If you have one binary question, pair it with an open end. Or pair an open end with a scale question. Adding limited variety helps keep clients engaged while not asking too much of their time.

Quick Tip:


Because client surveys should be kept short, it can be difficult to assess just which questions to ask. We recommend paring your questions down to two categories:

1. Internally-Facing Questions: These are questions that let you learn how your clients feel about your product and service. They are ideal for getting a pulse on general satisfaction. Some examples include:

  • Have you received great service from us?
  • On a scale of 1-10, would you recommend our offering?

2. Externally-Facing Questions: These are questions that let you gauge how clients see you relative to other solutions. They are ideal for getting a pulse on how well you’re staying ahead of competition and disruptive trends. Some examples include:

  • If you were to leave us for a competitor, what would be the most likely company?
  • What other company do you wish we were more like?

Mixing in these two categories will give you a strong handle on the day-to-days of your business as well as larger trends that could affect future strategy and execution.

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