How to create better customer satisfaction surveys so you can collect insights you can act on.

We’ve all taken them. We’ve all abandoned them. The poorly written, unclear, too—specific or too—general customer satisfaction surveys or customer experience surveys. We opened the survey in good faith, ready to provide our wisdom to the organization who seemed to care about our opinion, only to find leading questions geared toward receiving glowing reviews.

There is an art to writing an effective customer satisfaction survey. To that end, we’ve compiled 10 common mistakes when crafting them. But before we review them, let’s talk about what customer satisfaction survey questions are and the types of things they can measure.

Customer satisfaction survey questions are closed-ended or open-ended questions that allow you to evaluate customer sentiment at a micro or macro level. This includes customers’ general level of satisfaction with you product or service, their experiences with your customer service, their loyalty to your organization, and more.

Here are the top metrics you can measure in your customer satisfaction survey to understand different facets of the client experience:

You can determine the customer satisfaction score (CSAT score) by asking: “How would you rate your experience with our (fill in the blank)?” where the response options go from “Very satisfied” to “Very dissatisfied.”

The customer satisfaction score question in the SurveyMonkey product

Asking the right feedback questions is the top challenge for small and midsize businesses. Read our research report and learn how to ask the right questions so you can deliver exceptional CX.

To calculate your CSAT score, take the number of satisfied customers and divide it by all of your respondents. Then multiply the result by 100. You’ll end up with a percentage, where the higher it is, the more satisfied your customers are.

You can measure your customer effort score using the following format, “[Your company] made it easy for me to handle my issue,” with the response options ranging from “Strongly agree” to “Strongly disagree.”

The customer effort score question in the SurveyMonkey product

Each answer option is assigned a number (“Strongly agree” receives a 1, “agree” a 2 etc.). This way, once the responses come back, you can calculate the average number. A lower number means a lower level of effort—which is, of course, what you want!

To get your score, you can ask: “How likely would you be to recommend our company to a friend or colleague?” The respondent would select a number on a 0 (least likely) to 10 (most likely) scale.

The NPS question in the SurveyMonkey product

Respondents are then placed into 3 groups:

  • Promoters: those who give a 9 or 10 rating, and are the most likely to stick around and recommend your business
  • Passives: those who give a 7 or 8 rating, and are happy with your organization but can be persuaded to switch over to a competitor
  • Detractors: those who give a rating below 7, and are the most likely to stop working with you and hurt the reputation of your business

You can then calculate your Net Promoter Score using the following formula:

NPS= % of Promoters — % of Detractors

To discover more specific customer satisfaction survey questions, you can review the survey templates near the bottom of this page.

Learn more about measuring the customer experience with these metrics, and how to decide when to use them.

Now that you know about the customer satisfaction survey questions you can ask, let’s talk about common mistakes when building the survey—and what you can do to correct them!

When your answers don’t include the response your participant wants, you’ve created a frustrated experience for your respondents. They’re now faced with the decision of answering inaccurately, skipping the question, or abandoning the questionnaire altogether. Not very productive. To let your question be inclusive of all opinions, offer an “I don’t know” answer choice and/or an “Other” option (lets respondents put in their own answer).

This question-writing mistake is as simple as it sounds. Take the following as an example:

“Did you enjoy our service and our selection? Yes or no?”

What if your service was impeccable but your selection was lacking? If there’s no way for the participant to answer this question accurately, you’re going to get skipped questions, or, perhaps even worse, inaccurate responses. Make sure you’re asking for one distinct answer per question.

Going back to our example, you can break up the prompt as follows:

“Did you enjoy our service?”


“Did you enjoy our selection?”

Yes, it would be great if every single question in your consumer feedback survey was answered thoughtfully and completely. That just doesn’t happen in the real world; people are busy and distracted. Sometimes a question is missed as an oversight, sometimes the respondent doesn’t want to provide the information, and sometimes they’re just confused by the question. If you require an answer to every single question—even the most rudimentary ones—you’re going to find that a lot of respondents will leave your survey. So keep the required questions to a minimum and let them skip what they want.

Please don’t interrogate your kind participants with page after page of highly detailed questions of every facet of your business. Keep your client feedback survey as succinct as possible, and you’ll have a better chance of getting meaningful data. Remember, you can always do follow-up surveys, and you’ll learn more with each poll you do.

It’s easy to ask a lot of questions in order to get the most information you can. But each survey should have a specific goal in mind, one that every question should help reach. Stay focused on your goal, and you’ll get valuable information.

It’s hard to be objective when you think your customer service is outstanding. Take a step back from what you think you know and let your shoppers do the talking. Avoid embellishing your questions with superlatives. Take the following prompt:

“How would you describe our friendly customer service representatives?”

This is a leading question as it describes the reps as being “friendly.” As a result, it isn’t likely to provide accurate results. Instead, ask a focused question about an aspect of your customer service, such as:

“How responsive or unresponsive were our customer service representatives?”

It’s hard for most people to accurately determine what they may or may not do in a hypothetical situation. Don’t fabricate customer service “what if” situations that may not have happened to the respondent. Instead, focus on uncovering real customer service issues.

For instance, avoid question prompts like the following:

“If our customer service representatives were extremely responsive to your needs, would you give our business a higher rating?”

And instead, ask something like:

“How satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the performance of our customer service representatives?

Pro tip: Use a Likert Scale rating question to ask customers to rate their experiences.

If your participants have to read questions several times in order to understand them, or if they’re repeatedly asked to write essay-like responses, you’ll end up with a lot of abandoned questionnaires. Write questions that can be easily scanned and that don’t require a lot of time to answer.

To make this point more concrete, let’s compare two question prompts that are ultimately asking the same thing. Here’s one that’s direct and simple:

“How responsive (or unresponsive) is our company in answering your questions?”

Now see what happens when you make it ultra-specific and long:

“If you have used our website, phone system, or email help system in the past, did our customer service representative get back to you in a timely manner?”

You’re probably eager to collect as much information as you can from each survey, but avoid the temptation. Customer service surveys that veer off course and ask seemingly unrelated questions can distract or confuse the respondent, and in some cases, may even evoke suspicion.

The examples are seemingly endless. And can be anything from…

“What do you like to do during your free time?”


“Are you happy?”

You could ask the following question with “yes” or “no” answer options:

“Is our company professional?”

But there’s a subtle spectrum of positive and negative responses. To get even richer data, try asking a “how” question with available responses, like, “extremely professional,” “somewhat professional,” and “not at all professional.” This gives you a better idea of what your customer service needs are.

In short, modify the question prompt to: “How professional is our company?”

At SurveyMonkey, we’ve developed a collection of methodologist-certified customer satisfaction survey templates to get you started quickly and easily. Of course, you’re always welcome to customize the questions to make your survey as specific as you’d like.

Use this customer satisfaction survey template to measure consumer satisfaction with your company, product, and services. Use skip logic to allow your customers to answer questions about products or services they’ve used, and gain insights for improvement.

See how your frontline customer service and support agents are doing. Measure customer service hold times, problem resolution, product/service knowledge, and representative attitude.

This customer satisfaction survey template is designed for when your clients aren’t just clients, they’re businesses too. Identify how satisfied your customers are with your timeliness, professionalism, and service.

Customer satisfaction survey templates

Save time and get great ideas with one of our free customer satisfaction survey templates. Get the feedback you need today.

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