How to Create a Great Customer Perception Survey

Customer Experience | 8 minute read

Understanding and managing customer perception should be a priority for businesses today. There are many ways you can listen and learn how customers perceive your brand, but the easiest way is to simply ask them!

Creating a consumer perception survey is the first step — here’s everything you need to know so you can find out what customers really think of your brand.

What’s the point of your customer perception survey?

Before you start creating your customer perception survey, you need to decide its purpose.

Are you looking to understand your customer journey better? Or perhaps you’re looking for information on how the general public perceives your brand in relation to your competitors. Are you simply looking for specific feedback on a new product or service?

Types of Customer Perception Surveys

Once you establish the focus of your survey, it’ll be possible to decide on the strategy required to get the insight you’re after. Generally, there are three types of customer perception surveys:

Customer Experience Surveys

Customer experience or customer satisfaction surveys are an essential part of creating positive and memorable customer experience. If you want specific details on how customers experience your sales process or brand, a customer experience survey is the way to go.
If you want specific details on how customers experience your sales process or brand, a customer experience survey is the way to go. #cx #brandperception #surveys Click To Tweet
These can be full surveys or single questions placed strategically at customer contact points, such as the bottom of an email.

General Brand Perception Surveys

A key part of understanding how customers perceive your brand is understanding how the wider public perceives it too. Brands often complement customer experience surveys with larger, more detailed, periodic surveys to assess broader changing customer perceptions.

These can be shared with anyone who falls in your target demographic — they don’t have to be a customer. This will give you a chance to learn what might be stopping certain demographics from engaging with your brand.

New Product or Service Test Groups

When companies want to test how a new product or service, or even a change of brand, will be received by their customers, they use ‘beta’ test groups. These groups are made up of a selection of customers designed to represent the customer base.

Customers are typically compensated for their time when taking part in trial periods or focus groups. This type of research comes with its own set of advantages, as you can dive deep into topics with participants and get more detailed feedback than you would with a form or survey.

Best Practices for Creating Customer Perception Surveys

Defining your goals is the key to successful research. Here are some other general best practices to keep in mind while creating your survey:

  • Keep it short and simple
  • Ask questions that categorize customers
  • Discourage neutral answers
  • Limit open-ended questions
  • Experiment asking questions in different ways
  • Test your timing
  • Continually evaluate your survey effectiveness
  • Follow up and respond with action

Types of Questions to Use on Your Consumer Perception Survey

Regardless of the type of survey you create, the types of questions on them will be similar. Make sure you take advantage of all of them. They can be broken down into four categories:

Binary Questions

These are the simplest type of questions in your survey. They’re questions with binary answers, typically ‘Yes‘ or ‘No‘.

Some examples of binary questions:

“Did you find the answer you were looking for?”

“Was your issue resolved today?”

These are useful because of their simplicity. They’re a very effective way of finding out whether you’re meeting expectations after an interaction with a customer.

Multiple-Choice Questions

Multiple choice questions are most useful for gathering categorial information about your customers. This helps you to categorize your audience and gives you useful ways to slice your data when analyzing.
Regardless of the type of customer survey you create, the types of questions on them will be similar. Make sure you take advantage of them all. #customersurveys #feedback Click To Tweet
The answers offered to customers in a multiple-choice question will typically be chosen based on the buyer personas and market segments the business is targeting.

Some examples of multiple-choice questions:

“What’s your seniority level?”

“How many people work at your company?”

“What industry do you work in?”

Sliding Scale and Semantic Differential Questions

These are the questions that you most commonly think of in a customer satisfaction survey. They’ve become an industry standard, which helps because customers know how to answer them quickly. They’re great for finding your own benchmarks and can be used to segment your data very easily.

Another benefit is that you can use responses to trigger certain actions, such as a follow-up email or phone call.

An example of a sliding scale question would be the classic CSAT question:

“On a scale of 5, how satisfied are you with your experience?”

UNSATISFIED< [1]—[2]—[3]—[4]—[5] > SATISFIED

Some variants of this question use phrases instead of numbers to make it easier for customers to answer. An example of this would be:

“How satisfied are you with your experience?”

[Very unsatisfied] [Unsatisfied] [Neither] [Satisfied] [Very satisfied]

Semantic differential questions are slightly different. They take a binary question and place it on a scale, to help the customer pick an answer that accurately reflects their experience.
An example of a semantic differential scale question would be:

“How expensive is X product? Make a mark between the poles that reflects your opinion:”

INEXPENSIVE |—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—| VERY EXPENSIVE

Although they can help you with relational questions, very often you will end up with similar responses to a binary question.

Open-Ended Questions

The final question type allows us to collect the most valuable types of information for the brand perception researcher: Qualitative data. While quantitative data is great for quick, definitive answers it doesn’t tell you ‘why’ customers hold that opinion.

Qualitative customer feedback is essential. Not only does it help you to address problems in your customer journey, but it’s a great resource for informing your marketing and product design too.

Make sure you give customers the opportunity to express their feelings in their own words when answering a binary or scale question. But don’t require them to do so to complete the survey, or they’ll likely abandon it before finishing — instead, consider marking these fields as ‘optional’.

Top Questions to Ask on Your Customer Perception Survey

Here are some of the top questions to ask in your customer perception survey:

Customer Experience Based Questions

All these questions will help you to get a complete picture of your customer journey and how customers perceive their experience with your brand.

Net Promoter Score:

“How likely are you to recommend us to a friend?”

Customer Satisfaction:

“How satisfied were you with your experience?”

Customer Effort:

“How easy was it for you to resolve your issue?”

Quality of Service:

“How would you rate the quality of support you received?”

Experience:

“Please share some details about your experience.”

Feedback:

“Please let us know how we could have made your experience better”

Relational:

“How does this experience compare to your experience with similar brands?”

Brand Perception Questions

  • How familiar are you with ‘X’ brand?
  • How trustworthy is this brand?
  • How likely are you to purchase a product from this brand?
  • What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of this brand?
  • How would you describe your overall opinion of this brand?
  • Please share some details about why you feel this way about this brand.
  • Is Brand X more or less {expensive/popular/quality/fun} than Brand Y?
  • Demographic Questions

Make sure you include these too! Demographic questions are questions on things like age, gender, race, job, education, and location.
While quantitative data is great for quick, definitive answers it doesn't tell you 'why' customers hold that opinion. You need qualitative data too. #customersurveys #feedback #cx Click To Tweet
Although they’re not going to tell you what customers think, they will help you find correlations between groups of people that feel a certain way about your brand — and give you clues as to why they feel that way.

When to Send Customer Perception Surveys

Timing is everything with customer perception surveys. You want to make sure you’re regularly getting customer feedback, but you don’t want to spam them with surveys either.

Here are the best times to send out a customer satisfaction survey.

1. As soon as possible after an interaction with a customer

These are often missed but essential parts of creating a full picture of customer perceptions. Give customers the opportunity to tell you whether you’ve delivered at that specific point of the journey.

Some places to include these short binary or NPS-style scales would be:

  • At the end of emails
  • On receipts
  • After customer sales calls
  • At the bottom of self-help articles

2. After the customer has made a transaction

Once a customer has made a purchase, follow up with them to get some feedback on how they viewed the experience.

The time you wait before sending will depend on your product because you want to allow them time to fully digest the product and experience.

For example, a travel firm will send you a survey after you’ve booked, as well as after you’ve returned from your trip. Orthodontists or laser eye surgeons are more likely to get your feedback quite soon after the procedure is complete when the “wow” factor is still present.

3. At pre-determined stages of the customer lifecycle

You can also time your surveys to measure how customer perceptions change through the customer journey.

These are particularly useful for brands that have a long buying cycle, use brand ambassadors, or rely on content publishing. The aim is to determine how customer perceptions change at each different stage in the customer lifecycle as well as what can be done to influence them.

Creating a Great Customer Perception Survey

The key to creating a great customer perception survey is to figure out what you want to know about your customers first. Then, look for opportunities in your customer journey to ask simple questions that give you contextual feedback. And don’t forget to follow up!

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