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How to use required questions without making your customers groan

Posted by Ethan Hawkes on Jan 19, 2017 9:00:00 AM
Ethan Hawkes
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From my time at SurveyMe, I've noticed businesses either use too many or too little-required questions on their customer surveys. The perfect balance of required questions is when they don't annoy active participants but get the information out of lazy ones. 

Required questions in surveys are questions that can not be skipped. They force survey participants to answer a question before moving on to the next. 

When setting up a survey, especially with a reward, required questions are crucial. Problem is, too many of the wrong kind can leave participants frustrated and exhausted by the end of the survey, if they even make it that far.

Incomplete surveys and frustrated customers arise not when there are too many required questions, but when the wrong questions are marked as required.

Here's a quick list of customer satisfaction survey questions that should rarely be marked as required:

  • "What is your email?"
  • "Any additional comments?"
  • "Did any one of our staff stand out to you? If so what's their name?"

Notice a pattern? Each question is open-ended. Open-ended questions are significantly harder for the participant to answer than any other type.

If you think the answer to a question is crucial to your next business decision, go ahead and make it required. We recommend only one or two open-ended questions per survey. If you're going to make open-ended questions required, try putting them at the end of the survey to reduce the incompletion rate. 

These are just guidelines, but keep in mind you won't get the actionable results from uncompleted surveys.

Why not email?

Requiring someone's email is a sure fire way to get bounces off  your survey. Customers may not want to give you their email for fear of being spammed or becoming just another person in your marketing database. 

Even if you make a compelling reason for joining your company's newsletter, email should be optional. The only time it shouldn't be optional is when you have a substantial enough reward to compensate for the customer giving up their information.

Why not comments?

The problem is a lot of customers just don't have any comments for your store. They can't think of anything they'd like to see or anything negative. Sure they could write in "N/A" or "None," but it's just a better customer experience to skip the questions and not fumble with the keyboard. 

Why not comments about staff?

Most customers don't pay attention to staff unless they stand out, hopefully in a positive light. A customer should never be forced to recall something not obvious to them. Asking about staff is important, but rarely made required.

A good rule of thumb when it comes to selecting required over skipable questions: If the question isn't open-ended, make it required. If it's open-ended, think before making it required. 

Participants won't bounce out of a survey if every question is easy to answer!

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Topics: Survey Strategies

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