Best Practice For Survey Writing

Below are some hints and tips to help you write a successful survey.

Define your aims clearly.

Conducting a survey gives you a unique opportunity to learn from your customers and drive service improvements based on current thinking. Do not waste this opportunity! Clearly establish what you are hoping to learn from the results of this survey and make sure that your questions capture the information that you want to learn.

Don't limit your options.

IVR surveys provide a very effective way of gaining a customer's immediate reaction to the service offered at your call centre. Questions regarding an agent's performance will help you to target and improve customer service. However, focussing exclusively on the agent may mean you fail to glean useful information about the services or products you offer. Consider extending the questions to capture feedback on other aspects of your business.

Word your questions as statements.

We recommend that you adopt the Likert scale in your questionnaires. These questions ask respondents to say to what extent they agree with a number of statements, for example: “I felt the person who took my call was pleasant and polite”; “I have a good work/ life balance.” Typically, you ask the respondent to score out of five, to give people a neutral option. With these types of questions, you can solicit opinions on anything, and are not exclusively dictated to ascertaining levels of satisfaction as you can be with other types of range questions.

Be consistent.

When using the Likert scale, or any other range questions, it is advisable to be consistent with the range used. It will be more intuitive and you will find it more useful when analysing multiple questions if one is always negative and five, positive.

Let your respondents speak for themselves.

Include chances for your customers to leave verbatim comments. Capturing the voice of your customer allows your customers to speak for themselves and means that you do not define the customer experience based exclusively on your company's metrics and standards.

Keep it short.

Remember you are prevailing upon your customers' time and trading on their good will when you ask for their feedback. Keep your survey relatively short to encourage a higher response rate. Use the words “quick” or “short” in the introduction to reassure your customers that they will not have to devote too much of their time to complete your survey: “In a moment I shall ask you just 10 quick questions, which should take no more than a minute or two of your time.”

Remember the media.

When writing your survey, bear in mind that the questions will be heard, not read by the survey respondents. Give people the options first, followed by the key to press: “Overall how satisfied were you with the way your call was handled? Press one for extremely dissatisfied through to five for extremely satisfied.”

It's not a memory test.

Do not offer people more than seven options within one question. People will struggle to recall any more choices than that.

Be clear.

Ensure that the options you offer in your survey's questions are distinct. Not only will you confuse the respondents if more than one of the options offered is applicable to them, but you will also compromise the quality of the data you collect.

Stress that you're not selling.

It may be an important, depending on the context of your survey, to state clearly at the beginning of your survey that this is not a sales call; that participation is voluntary and that you are purely trying to seek opinion.

Top and tail.

A good introduction and ending are important. Make the transfer from any previous call as logical and as smooth as possible. At the end, always thank the caller for participating and indicate that they can hang up, with a phrase such as “Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey today. The results will be used to help us improve the service we provide. Goodbye.”


It is easy to get a rough idea of how long and how clear the questionnaire will be just by reading out all the questions. Include the introduction and a thank you & goodbye, and remember also to allow time for the customer to respond and the response to be confirmed. Also remember that the clearest written instructions may sound odd or awkward when spoken. You will not know until you try it out!