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You can gather great customer feedback from a survey and leverage that information to improve your product by using a few simple tricks of the trade.

The use of surveys to collect customer feedback has exploded in the past few years. With tools like SurveyMonkey, Qualtrics, and embedded survey capabilities within Facebook and Twitter, it has never been easier to poll your customers and get their opinions. Aye, there’s the rub. Sending a survey has become no-brainer easy, and too many surveys are sent with too little thought put into them. Are the responses helpful? Sometimes yes, sometimes GIGO.

Well-constructed surveys are among the most scalable ways to gather structured customer feedback. How can you create a survey which users will respond to and from which you can gather useful customer feedback? When in the product development lifecycle can surveys be most effective?

How to Collect Customer Feedback Using Surveyssurveys-2-1_800x400

In This Article:

What are Surveys and Why Use Them to Gather Customer Feedback?

why conduct surveysPolitics. Economics. Lifestyle. “Survey says?” Surveys are everywhere. There are plenty of opportunities to have our opinions swayed by survey results or for us to weigh in on a survey and express our opinions.

A survey is a questionnaire which is used to poll a specific audience to gain a deeper understanding of their tastes and opinions. Online surveys are often used to better understand your customers’ opinions and tastes. Who are they and how do they react to your product or service? Survey data is typically captured in a database for later retrieval and analysis. According to Techopedia, “In contrast to traditional surveys, online surveys offer companies a way to sample a broader audience at a lower cost.”

Surveys should have between one and ten questions, ranging from structured questions such as simple polls (yes / no), multiple choice, rating and ranking, to unstructured ones like open-ended free-response questions. There are lots of resources online which will help you understand why and how to use the different types of questions.

What kind of feedback will surveys get you?types of customer feed

“From social media you can gauge sentiment and to a lesser extent underlying emotional content,” said Leonard Murphy, who writes for the marketing blog GreenBook. “But you won’t be able to determine why the customer feels that way. A survey gives you the opportunity to dig deeper.” [Source]

“Available survey solutions have led to widespread use of quantitative surveys…to collect, analyze, and use data to formulate strategies for a more effective business model, create targeted marketing strategies, enhance customer service, and much more. Executed correctly, survey research can benefit market researchers with reliable and useable data, and improve research ROI,” according to Susan Wyse.

The Factsanalyzing survey results

Collecting the Feedback: Moderate difficulty. It takes some time to create an effective survey and think about how the data will be used, yet once in place, is can be easily reused.
Analyzing the Feedback: Moderate difficulty. The analysis depends on the complexity of the survey and how much thought was put into what data to collect.
Reach: Broad and Deep. Surveys can be used across a broad spectrum of a population with remarkably consistent results.
Scalability: Highly scalable. Once created, a survey can be distributed across a large population, or reused as often as needed.
Cost: Inexpensive. The cost per respondent makes this one of the least expensive methods of collecting substantive feedback.

Pros… with Benefits

Cons… with Weaknesses

Using Surveys Throughout the Product Development Lifecycle

At what point(s) in the PDLC will this type of feedback be most useful?

Product Development Lifecycle:

Feedback from surveys can be helpful throughout the Product Development Lifecycle.

Best Practices & Pro-Tips for Successful Surveys

Do’s and Don’tsdo's and don'ts of effective surveys

Or, how to create and distribute surveys that your customers are more likely to complete.


best survey questionsGood Questions to Ask

Writing Great Surveys


Surveys are a low-cost, scalable way to capture customer feedback. They help you turn anecdotes into facts, and can be used to formulate, support or disprove a hypothesis. When designing a survey, think about its purpose and the target audience and make sure each question is there for a reason. Design surveys with the end in mind, understand how you want to use the data, and make sure it is structured in such a way that it is easy to analyze. Most importantly, be strategic about when to survey your customers to increase the likelihood they’ll respond.

Steven Telio

About Steven Telio

Steven is a Product Management Consultant who specializes in defining and delivering stellar digital products. He has held senior level Product Management roles with a number of startups, including 4 which had successful exits. He has led projects in a variety of industries for organizations that include EMC, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Syngenta, Boeing, NASA, and Harvard Medical School, and began his career doing technical support for a medical device start-up, where he answered “patient-on-the-table” service calls from neurosurgeons.
  • Samantha Robinson

    Your article has covered a great deal about customer satisfaction surveys and surveys in general. You also have mentioned few tools like SurveyMonkey and Qualtrics. I am looking forward to conducting a customer engagement survey myself and my friend recommended SoGoSurvey for the survey templates they offer and the anonymity feature which is my primary requirement. What do you think about this tool?