Shep Hyken\'s Customer Service Blog

Guest Blog: The Art of the Survey – Why one question is more than enough

This week we feature an article by Georgina Nelson who explains her approach to collecting customer feedback that will help you provide a better customer experience.

One of the biggest misconceptions about collecting customer feedback is the idea that asking more questions provides more of the insights you’re looking for.  Through our work with retail businesses across the world, we’ve found that this couldn’t be further from the truth.

While it may be tempting to ask a customer to fill out a survey before they leave your store or solicit feedback online with an incentive on their receipts, there’s a reason those methods tend to fall short on capturing meaningful insights.  In many cases, the response rates are extremely low because customers simply don’t have the time or desire to take a survey.  And when customers do respond, you run the risk of only hearing from those who complete the survey to earn the incentive, which can diminish the accuracy of their responses.

With short attention spans and little patience for anything that may slow down the shopping experience or infringe on free time later, many shoppers aren’t looking to fill out extensive surveys for businesses.  In fact, roughly 80% of consumers believe the most important part of good service is the ability for a company to respect their time.

Striking the delicate balance of garnering feedback from customers without negatively impacting their experience can be challenging – but the good news is that it’s not impossible.

Taking a “less is more” approach to how you collect feedback can help you gain accurate and powerful customer insights.

The Power of One Question

As few as two percent of customers will take the time to complete a survey. Couple that with the fact that the average person gets distracted in just eight seconds, and it becomes clear why collecting customer feedback can be so tough.

Rather than bombarding customers with lots of questions, try limiting your interactions to just one question. By asking customers one specific question about their experience, you can significantly increase the chances that they will actually provide feedback. Research from TruRating shows that a one-question survey at the point of sake can result in a 90% in-store response rate.

Why Simple is Sometimes Best

Asking one question per customer opens the door for you to take a deeper dive into what’s driving behaviors and preferences.  Wondering if that new promotion is actually driving sales?  If the latest change to your store layout is helping shoppers find what they need more quickly?  A simple, straightforward question can provide actionable results, in quick measure.  Make life easier for the customer, and they’ll naturally respond with positive appreciation.

By rotating questions on a customer by customer basis, you can ensure you’re collecting responses on a wide variety of issues.  Whether that means identifying

the days that customers receive the best service or understanding which of your marketing channels are driving the most revenue, valuable information can be captured quickly through a single question.

If you can provide a simple multiple-choice selection, or intuitive rating request at payment, even better. By enabling customers to give feedback in the moment, in a matter of seconds, you avoid the risk of tainting an otherwise good experience with unwanted follow-ups.  The customer experience doesn’t end with the transaction – every step of the journey, whether in or out of the store, have a cumulative impact on customer perception.

Collecting feedback while satisfying the modern consumer’s expectations for speed and convenience isn’t easy – but it can be done.  By simplifying the process, and integrating it seamlessly into your existing customer journey, you can quickly achieve results that meet both your and your customers’ needs.

Georgina Nelson, founder and CEO of TruRating, has brought together a wonderful team, exciting customers and partners in the payments industry with the ultimate objective to bring the truth back to ratings.

For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to

Read Shep’s latest Forbes article: Burger King Serves Up Subscription Coffee


  1. Wholeheartedly disagree with this perspective. It’s the kind of simplistic thinking that led us into the swamp that is NPS, CSAT, and CES. Actionability is far less about the number of questions – recognizing that brevity, in the interest of high respondent participation, should always be a CX researcher’s goal – than the objective of generating insights that can be leveraged on a granular level.

Leave a Reply