7 Ways to make the most of surveys and feedback forms

By: Partner | 12.8.15

Today’s tips come from our partners at FormAssembly, who help businesses and nonprofits build great forms, collect invaluable data, and process information in tandem with your CRM. Check out their blog and the original version of this post for more tips that you can implement today.


Getting feedback is crucial to your success as a business or nonprofit. It’s a great way to make sure you’re serving your members, donors, clients and customers to the best of your ability, and alerts you to any issues or concerns your audience might be having. Conducting surveys and gathering feedback online is a quick and inexpensive way to check in on your constituents and gather useful info without delay.


1. Listen to the feedback you receive with an open mind

First, think about your intentions. Are you creating this feedback form because you want a pat on the back? If so, ask yourself how listening to solely positive feedback will boost your business. Here’s a hint: It won’t.

There are many opinions regarding whether or not the customer or constituent is always right, but the truth is that you can’t grow a business without collecting feedback. And it doesn’t stop there; once you have that information, you’ve gotta do something with it!

Otherwise, you’d be stuck doing the same thing without making any meaningful improvements to your business. Or worse, you’ll be stuck making improvements only you deem worthy, assuming that your customers will love it without the data to back your decisions up.

So gather both positive and negative feedback, don’t take the negative feedback personally, and remember that the people who provide you with this feedback are trying to help you. In fact, they’re doing you a huge favor. Your customers trust that you’ll listen to them. If they thought their feedback would fall into a black hole never to see the light of day, they wouldn’t have dedicated their own time to share their thoughts.

That being said…


2. Make sure it’s a quick survey, and let people know that it’s quick

It’s tempting to get all of your questions out of your system in one survey, but people are more likely to take your survey if it’s short. That doesn’t mean you have to lower the quality of the survey, all you have to do is ask the right questions.  One well-thought-out question can potentially lead to a great, in-depth response. Strategic questions are key.

As Gregory Ciotti from Help Scout kindly points out, you shouldn’t make people feel like they’re being interrogated when they’re filling out your customer satisfaction form. If you have many more questions to ask, save them for the next survey.


3. Keep your questions tidy and organized

A well-structured questionnaire sends the right message. It shows that you’re professional and know your stuff.

Imagine taking a feedback questionnaire where the first question asks how you feel about cats. The next few questions are about what you do for a living, your education history, and general background. Then you get to the fifth question, and it throws you for a loop. It asks you how many cats you currently own. Whoa! You thought the cat discussion was over, and even this small interruption inflow can upset and confuse the respondent.

Keep related questions together for best results.


4. Be straightforward and specific. Clear wins over cryptic.

Make sure all of the questions in your survey make complete and total sense. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many web surveys we’ve seen with cryptic questions. 

It’s important to get a second opinion. Ask someone on your team to read over the questions so they can give you a heads up when something doesn’t make sense. Sometimes we may see a question one way, and someone else might read it and see something entirely different.

You want the questionnaire to be as easy as possible for people to fill out. You want your respondents to complete the survey without abandoning it altogether out of confusion.


5. Don’t limit your feedback form to “scale of 1-10” questions

Your respondent’s eyes will quickly glaze over if they see that every question is about how they feel on a scale of 1-10 (AKA: rating questions). It’s just plain boring, and it’ll probably make them feel a lot like a robot.

If you choose to include questions in a variety of different formats, your respondents will be able to tell you much more than they otherwise would with a quick radio button selection — plus, they won’t fall asleep before finishing the form. It’s probably important to note that one person’s scale might be very different from someone else’s. So, the rating scale can cause inconsistencies.


6. Aim for an exceptional design that’s both easy to use and professional

It seems like a study comes out almost every week re-confirming the fact that design matters in business. For example, a recent study at Stanford showed that design plays a big role in trust and overall credibility.

Your feedback form should be professional, clean, and easy to navigate on any device.

Consider uploading your company logo and using your business colors for consistency. Great design doesn’t always need to take hours — a simple, tasteful design will always leave an awesome impression and doesn’t have to be time to consume either.


7. Leave some room at the end of the form for additional thoughts and comments

Even if you asked great questions, there’s a chance your customer, member, or volunteer will have something else to add. You might be surprised at how helpful some of those miscellaneous comments can be, too. An easy way to let people add their extra thoughts is by adding an “Additional comments” text area at the end of the feedback form.

Idealist Consulting has helped dozens of nonprofits and businesses integrate Form Assembly with Salesforce so that you can report on customer trends and use survey data to inform future growth. Please reach out if we can help you integrate your customer survey.  


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