The Starter Guide to Survey Question Types [eBook]

by | Sep 16, 2019

This guide to survey question types will teach you how to create survey questions that get valuable feedback from customers.

At Chatter Research, we help businesses collect and analyze feedback from thousands of customers every single day.

We’ve learned some things along the way about asking the right types of survey questions, and now, we want to share that knowledge with you!

Whether you’re looking to get customer feedback on a new product/service, a singular aspect of your business, or measure overall customer satisfaction, these 12 survey question types will help you extract the right type of feedback.

In this starter guide, you’ll learn: 

  • How to select the right survey question types
  • Best practices for getting actionable customer feedback
  • Tips for asking the right follow up questions
  • How to recover customers that share negative feedback

Get the Complete Starter Guide

This article highlights 8 of the 12 survey question types. Download the complete guide to get the full list of survey questions and tips!

A few things to note before we dive in: These example survey questions are meant to guide you in the right direction. You’ll have to adapt the language used to suit your business needs. 

The survey question types outlined in this guide should each be thought of as a standalone question. Your survey does not need to include every question type.  

The example survey questions are listed in no particular order. Once you’ve chosen the right types of questions for your survey, you’ll need to order them in a way that makes sense.  

We believe that traditional surveys are annoying and that conversational surveys create a better experience for customers. For that reason, we displayed each example survey question as a part of a conversational survey. 

Lets get started! 

Intro Message

Question Type: Statement & Yes/No 

Use an Intro Message at the beginning of your survey, whether it is initiated by your organization (pictured below) or by the customer. 

intro message survey question
Introduce yourself and keep the survey experience personalized by recognizing things like their location, the date, or their purchase. 

Where possible, use an incentive to increase survey response rates and show appreciation. 

It pays to be polite. Ask for permission to get feedback. 

New vs Returning Customer

Question Type: Yes/No

Use this survey question to understand what percentage of your customers are new versus returning customers. You can later segment all of your data by the answers to this question to see what differences there might be between those two groups. 

new vs returning customer survey question
Change the wording to reflect your business. Ex, “Is this your first time using our service?” 

Make sure that your survey software can understand replies to questions and respond accordingly. 

Pro tip: If the customer is new, ask a Follow Up question like, “How did you hear about us?” for marketing attribution. For returning customers, you can ask “How long has it been since you last stopped by?” to understand visit frequency. 

Reason for Visit

Question Type: Multi-Select and/or Free Text 

Use this survey question to understand what products/services your customers came to you looking for. This question type can be helpful for discovering a gap in your current product/service offerings. 

reason for visit survey question
Insert your different product categories / services here. If there are too many to list, you can simply use a Free Text question type instead. Ex. “What were you looking for today?” 

When appropriate, emojis can help make surveys more conversational. 

Purchase vs Non-Purchase

Question Type: Yes/No and Free Text 

Use this survey question to be able to segment responses by purchasers and non-purchasers. 

Pro tip: If the customer didn’t buy anything, you can use a Follow Up question to understand why that was. It might uncover some issues in your customer experience that you didn’t know about. 

purchase vs non-purchase survey question
Leave a good impression by letting non-purchasers know that you’re not angry with them for not buying. 

It’s important to ensure that your survey can automatically understand and
categorize open-ended / free text responses. Otherwise, you’ll have a mountain of responses to sort through manually, which is almost impossible to maintain. 

Key Activity

Question Type: Yes/No 

If your customer experience includes an optional activity within it that could impact the decision to buy, you might want to ask about it. 

For example, a clothing retailer could ask if a customer tried something on, while a grocery store might ask if the customer tried any free samples. 

You can also use a Key Activity survey question to measure company initiatives. For example, a bank that wants tellers to promote their new app might include a KeyActivity question in their customer satisfaction survey that asks if the teller mentioned the app during their last visit. 

 

key activity survey question

In order to keep surveys short (and keep completion rates high), avoid asking too many Key Activity questions in a single survey.

If your organization has multiple key activities, you can change the question type to a Multi-Select (multiple choice). 

Pro tip: You can compare the responses to this question with the “Purchase vs Non-Purchase” survey question to understand the impact the Key Activity has on purchase behavior. 

Demographics

Question Type: Multi-Select or Free Text

Demographic survey questions can be used to gather information about your customers such as age, gender, location, marital status, etc. 

This information can be helpful to find out how your customers’ experiences, desires, and behaviors vary among different groupings. 

 

Asking for personal information like age and gender is a sensitive question,
so it’s good to be clear about why you’re asking. In this example, we framed the question for “research purposes” only.
It’s nice to acknowledge and thank customers for their responses. 

Improvements

Question Type: Free Text 

Use this survey question type to understand how your organization can improve the customer experience. By asking just one question like this, you can uncover what is most important to the customer. 

It’s important to let customers answer in their own words here, so as not to limit their options. You want honest feedback that truly represents the voice of the customer. 

Since this is a Free Text survey question, it’s important to make sure that your survey software can read responses, categorize them by topic, and understand the sentiment behind it (positive/neutral/negative). 

improvements survey question
At Chatter Research, we use this type of survey question for all of our clients, as it uncovers the most valuable feedback. 

Be sure to change wording to reflect your business. Ex, “If you could improve one thing about our company…” 

Strengths

Question Type: Free Text 

Think of this as the opposite of the Improvements question. This survey question helps you understand what your customers love about you. 

Again, use a Free Text question type here to avoid inserting your organization’s own biases into the responses. You might actually be surprised by what you learn! 

strengths survey question
At Chatter Research, we tie responses from this question and the Improvements question to the NPS question (available in the full guide) to calculate the impact a particular topic has on Net Promoter Score. 

Next Steps

Paired with the right customer feedback technology, these example survey questions are a great start to understanding your customer experience. 

There are 4 more important survey question types that are not covered in this article. Download your free copy of our eBook, The Starter Guide to Survey Question Types, to get the complete list of survey question types. 

Get the Complete Starter Guide

This post only covered 8 of the 12 survey question types. Download the complete guide to access the 4 remaining survey question types!