To achieve the  objectives of gathering customer feedback efficiently whilst not annoying your customers and obtaining accurate results you can act upon, care and attention must be taken when designing your surveys.  Here, we show you 6 quick ways to ensure your surveys get answered, the answers you obtain are meaningful and accurate and do so, without alienating your customers.
10 second summary
– Design survey wording and scales for the survey type being used (vSurvey/eSurvey/mSurvey)
– Phone surveys – place scale after question not other way around
– Keep survey scales the same if possible, otherwise group them
– Keep language simple and avoid colloquialisms
– Capture open comments and verbatim recordings

  Press if you can’t find what you want?

Full Article – 6 ways to increase survey response rates
There is an art to finding the right words to use in your surveys. Or perhaps that should say: There is a science to designing surveys that get the best results, in the shortest amount of time and increase survey response rates.

Based on our many years of experience in conducting phone, email, web, social and mobile surveys, we have put together the VIRTUATell “Do’s and don’ts” for survey design.

If not done correctly the language that you use to phrase questions can ultimately have an unintended impact on the results you receive. Linguists and academics have spent decades researching the effect that different words, phrases and sentences can have on the way we think.

Design all surveys with the customer and their environment in mind

You are unable to monitor the environment in which your survey is being completed but you DO know if an SMS survey will be read on a mobile phone or an automated phone survey will be heard via a telephone, so tailor the survey for that medium. SMS surveys should be short, online surveys should be well designed and easy to read and Phone surveys should be worded to be easily understood via the ear.

Put the scale after the question

If using inbound or outbound telephone surveys (vSurveys, as we call them) put the scale AFTER the question. This is 90% easier for the brain to be presented with the proposition (the question they have to evaluate) followed by the scale they have to select from, rather than the other way around.  This alone will make sure you increase survey response rates.

Keep to the scales you use the same, where possible

When designing surveys, it is imperative to remember that the respondents are helping you out. Therefore, try to keep their mental stress to a minimum. Switching from a question that asks for a numerical rating (1-5, 1-10 or the NPS score, 0-10) to one, that rates levels of satisfaction (Very Satisfied, Satisfied, Dissatisfied, Very Dissatisfied), to one that seeks to ascertain how closely a customer agrees with a statement (Strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree), is mentally demanding for them and likely to be off-putting so try and keep scales consistent. This is especially true when using phone (vSurveys) or mobile (mSurveys) surveys where the time available to fully understand what is being presented is short.

If you have to change scoring scales, keep those questions together. For example, if you have four 1-5 questions and a Net Promoter question, put the Net Promoter first or last and not amongst the other questions.

Avoid using idioms and slang

Your customers may be foreign-born or may have a learning difficulty that prevents them from distinguishing between metaphor and literal meaning. Idioms and slang can cause confusion and arguably can sound unprofessional.

But that doesn’t mean that colloquial language should be avoided – especially when using phone surveys. In fact, it is worth considering how a more relaxed and conversational tone could be used to help put respondents at ease and make them feel less as though they are undergoing a test.

Capture verbatim recordings and open comments, especially as the final questions

These open questions give the respondent the chance to say what is on their mind, in their words and are often the most valuable content available to you. DO NOT use them for SMS surveys (which should only be a single question).

When asking for comments via an open message box or a verbatim recording comment, don’t ask leading questions. For journalists grilling political candidates that may be the quickest way to get at the truth. For your survey the act of suggesting an answer in the question is likely to bias your results and make them an inaccurate reflection of your customer’s experience.


At VIRTUATell, we campaign constantly to keep surveys short and we don’t assume the respondent has limitless time to answer our questions. Your feedback audience has less and less time available and if you do not join this movement towards shorter surveys, you will be collecting feedback – and basing decisions – only on those that have unlimited time!

If you DO need more than 4 or 5 questions answered, cycle, randomise and spread the questions over multiple respondents or contact VIRTUATell to help you design your feedback campaign. A short survey will result in the respondent being happy to answer another one sometime – a long survey penalises them for helping you out.  This single act will make sure you increase survey response rates and get customers to give you multiple survey feedback.

For more information CLICK HERE to Contact VIRTUATell or complete the form on the right to subscribe to automatically receive new articles we add.