Stop Asking the Wrong Customer Service Survey Questions

Everyone dreams of having a customer service survey that gets a response from every person that it’s sent to. The fact of the matter is, though, that most externally-sent surveys only get a 10-15% response rate. There are a few reasons for that, most of them related to how compelled your customers feel to answer your questions. If, for example, you haven’t targeted the right people, or you’ve made your surveys incredibly long, your response rates are going to suffer.

Equally damning are customer service survey questions that don’t make any sense. The first time the customer gets to a vague question that they don’t know the answer to, you start to lose them and their willingness to go through your survey. Here’s an example of a confusing customer service survey question, care of QuestionPro.

If you saw this on a survey, wouldn’t it make you stop? There’s too many pieces at play. They ask about the word innovative, how it relates to DMT, and then ask the user to rank it on a 10 point scale. They’d have better luck just asking “Do you think DMT is innovative? Yes or No” and providing a binary option for selection.

We’ve all been there, though. It can be really easy to get overzealous with your questions and try to pick your customers’ brains about everything. But, if you want to get the best, most impactful (and bountiful answers), it’s time to stop asking the wrong customer service survey questions. We are here to help!

Good Survey Question Examples

A good survey question is straight-to-the-point and asks exactly what your company is trying to better understand. Here are some examples of lesser-used customer survey questions that can be really impactful when asked:

How often do you use our service?

This lets you know if the respondent to your survey is a power user and long-time fan, or if they just signed up yesterday and have only used your product once. Not only will this help you understand if you should be targeting better, but it may help you learn if you should be giving some survey responses more weight than others. This response is also useful for segmenting all of your results.

Take note though – if you already track your customer’s product usage, you might not need to ask this question. Instead, connect the usage data to the customer’s email address you sent the survey too. 

What would you improve about our service?

This open-ended question prompts the user to provide you with insights that they might not feel invited to give normally. For every customer complaint, there are 26 other unhappy customers who aren’t saying anything. Asking the right customer service survey questions can open you up to hearing from others that wouldn’t normally say anything.

How easy was it for you to use our service?

This is the question that Customer Effort Score is based on. Customer satisfaction scores are what 80% of organizations use to measure the customer experience—but there’s so much more than that out there. It’s important to track how much effort your product requires as well as how satisfied they are with it. People shouldn’t have to work hard: 96% of customers who have a high-effort experience will become disloyal.

In the future, are you willing to take other surveys like this?

This question does double duty. It checks to see if the person feels good about receiving your surveys, but it also lets you know if they would be good to target in the future. If someone feels frustrated by receiving your surveys, it’s going to diminish their loyalty and relationship with your brand. As Colleen Barrett, President Emeritus of Southwest says: “to earn the respect (and eventually love) of your customers, you first have to respect those customers. That is why Golden Rule behavior is embraced by most of the winning companies.” Give your customers the permission to tell you what they do or don’t like (and then follow what they tell you) and you’ll earn their respect exponentially faster.

Customer Survey Best Practices

There are a few key rules of thumb to follow that will guide you towards asking the best possible questions. Focusing on a few key things will maximize your potential for responses, and help your customers feel like you care about their time and effort. After all, they are taking time out of their busy day to do something for you that has no immediate positive impact on their life.

While you could monetize your surveys or reward customers for taking them, a good first step is just making sure that you’re cognizant of their time. Here are a few ways to maximize the ratio of time to effort and get great responses to your customer service survey questions:

Ask about demographics

If you ask about your customers’ key demographics in your surveys, you can use the information for better targeting in the future. More than half of consumers are willing to provide personal information about themselves if they feel that you have their best intentions in mind.

Similarly, 79% of consumers said they were only likely to engage with an offer if it has been personalized to reflect previous interactions they’ve had with the brand. Use the information pulled from surveys to target and personalize your content more effectively and gain even more traction.

Keep questions simple

Remember that incredibly complicated question in the introduction? Don’t do that to your customers. Ask one question at a time, and make sure that the answers are binary or easy to score. As soon as you start throwing them curveballs, customers lose interest. Keep your customer support questions simple, straightforward and easy in order to get your maximum response rate.

Allow customers to skip

Similar to the point above, if the customer doesn’t know the answer to a question, they should be able to skip it. If you do not give them the opportunity to skip questions that they don’t have answers to, there are only two other options: leave the survey or give a false answer. Neither of those are ideal. Instead, give your survey-takers the opportunity to skip the question and move on to one with which they are more comfortable.

Don’t ask leading questions

We get it—you want to hear good things from your customers. But asking leading questions isn’t the way to do it. For example, instead of saying “How great is our product?” you could ask “How would you describe our product?” This will get you more candid responses from your customers, and also avoid the potential for frustrating them with leading inquiries.

Stay away from hypotheticals

Hypotheticals are almost never good—”what ifs” are the bane of most people’s existence. So, instead of wasting your customers’ time with annoying customer support survey questions like “if we built a new product feature, how would it make you feel?” ask questions that can help inform how you move forward. For example, “what can we do to make your experience easier in the future?” or “how can we improve our service?” This will result in tangible, useful responses, rather than vague dreaming about what-ifs and should-have-dones.

Keep it short and related

Have you ever been having a conversation with a friend and, out of the blue, they start talking about something totally unrelated? That’s what it feels like when you send a survey out to your customers asking them about customer experience, and then drop a question about their spending demographic right in the middle. Try to keep your survey short (just a few questions) and make sure all of the questions that you ask are directly related to the survey topic.


Creating a relationship with your customers is about generating trust. If you create your survey questions to be straightforward and simple you’ll get a much higher interaction rate from the people you’re targeting. Treat your customers as you’d like to be treated: be respectful of their time, do not ask too much from them, and respond to their insights as they provide them to you. Following each of those steps will ensure that you maintain a good, trusting and loyal relationship for years to come.