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Bake survey questions inside the user experience

Baking customer survey questions into your user experience beats bribing customers in an email to do you a favor.

Customer surveys are disruptive. Few people take the time to share what they think — unless they completely hate or love the company.

To combat this complacency, companies often bribe customers with gift cards or discounts. This might elicit more responses — but devaluing your product or resorting to bribery aren’t characteristics of a competent company.

Baking survey questions into your user experience is a better option than sending an email bribing customers into doing you a favor. “Having to ask for a favor puts you in a weak position,” says Joachim Krueger, Ph. D. “You empower the other party to make a yes-no decision. Either way the other party comes out stronger.”

Having to ask for a favor puts you in a weak position.”

Joachim Krueger, Ph. D.

There are plenty of opportunities for you to ask questions of your customers during their natural exposure to your brand. Your onboarding sequence, for example.

Every onboarding email you send helps the user get more out of your product. You provide value. You ask nothing in return. You don’t say, “Would you mind filling out your profile for us? It helps us give you a better experience.”

Instead, you say: “To get more out of your subscription, complete your profile. It feeds our powerful AI platform with critical details to personalize your experience.”

Value.

Surveys should work the same way. Provide value that’s baked right into the user experience, molded in a way that provides you with valuable insight.

Comparing traditional surveys with baked-in experiences

Traditionally, a SaaS company might send a customer survey one month after the customer onboarded. The survey would run the gamut of questions, including staples such as How did you learn about us and Which feature of our product do you find most useful? Companies also calculate their NPS through surveys by asking customers, “on a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend us to a friend?”

Here’s how we could drip those questions organically into the customer experience:

Checkout experience

Ask your customers how they learned about you in your checkout experience after someone converts (to minimize friction). Once someone completes their main conversion, direct them to a screen that asks where they heard about you.

Don’t make this a mandatory step. Yes, some people won’t respond. But you’re competing with a roughly 10–15% response rate from surveys. You’ll still come out on top.

Power-user email

Send an email to customers after they use a certain number of your product features (indicating a certain level of interest in your product).

In that email, tell them you’re making critical upgrades to your platform and have selected them to gain exclusive access to an advanced version of one of their features. Then have them choose which feature they’d like early access to.

This provides value to them (upgraded versions of what they like best) — and lets you know which features they prefer.

You can also use this email to calculate your NPS.

Singular questions — not long surveys

Bake singular questions into your customer experience — rather than bombard customers with a single 6 or 10-question survey. It won’t always be easy, but it certainly won’t be impossible.

Consider all the ways you can — and do — naturally reach out to customers, already:

  • Welcome email series
  • In-app messaging
  • Retargeted ads

Each one of these points of contact is an ideal time to gather some intel on your customers. There’s no reason to have stand-alone surveys.

Integrating questions into your existing customer touch points, at relevant times based on behavior and action, makes your questions better timed, less obstructive, and a positive contribution to the customer’s overall experience.

Better yet, with this approach, you gain insight at the point of action, rather than as an afterthought.