How to Design a Questionnaire That Improves CX

November 17, 2021
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Have you ever wondered what a questionnaire is? And if implementing them has a high enough return on investment (ROI)?

Well, the guide below does the following:

  • Discusses the components of a questionnaire
  • Explains step by step how to design a well-functioning questionnaire
  • Details how your business can gain valuable insight into your customer’s thoughts and sentiments via a questionnaire

Simply put, a questionnaire is a type of research instrument. A questionnaire is a set of questions aimed to gather information about an individual, group of people, or a corporation.

Choosing to run questionnaires should be a no-brainer for companies. Questionnaires allow businesses to proactively keep up with customers' continuously evolving wants and needs. In fact, 78% of consumers state that they’re loyal to brands that understand them and what they want to achieve.

Therefore, businesses should send questionnaires to customers during different stages of the customer journey to create a unified customer experience (CX).

Questionnaire Examples

When businesses implement questionnaires, they’re usually asking either current or potential customers a series of closed-ended and open-ended questions. Companies can then turn their respondents' answers to these survey questions into both highly informative qualitative and quantitative data.

However, when creating and delivering a questionnaire, it’s important to understand the different types of questionnaires available, and which one’s best for the situation.

Here are a few examples of different questionnaires:

1. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Questionnaire

Companies should use a customer satisfaction (CSAT) questionnaire to quantify any experience between a customer and the company — for example, after a customer completes a purchase or interacts with a customer service representative.

In general, CSAT questionnaires ought to be fairly short so as not to annoy customers — anywhere from one to 15 questions is ideal. If the questionnaire contains open-ended questions, then keep it to under eight questions.

CSAT question examples:

How satisfied were you with our product demo?

  • Very satisfied
  • Somewhat satisfied
  • Neutral
  • Somewhat dissatisfied
  • Very dissatisfied

2. Customer Effort Score (CES) Questionnaire

A customer effort score (CES) questionnaire helps businesses determine the amount of effort or energy a customer puts in when resolving an issue. In general, the higher the effort, the more irritated a customer is and less likely he or she will buy again. On the other hand, according to Harvard Business, 94% of customers reporting low effort stated they would repurchase.

CES questionnaires allow companies to easily locate and fix pain points their customers are experiencing.

CES question examples:

How intuitive is our website?

  • Not intuitive
  • Not very intuitive
  • Neutral
  • Somewhat intuitive
  • Very intuitive

How easy was it to purchase from us today?

  • Difficult
  • Neutral
  • Easy

3. Demographic Questionnaire

Demographic questionnaires collect general, yet valuable, information on either current or prospective customers. Demographic questions can target either individuals or other businesses.

Demographic questionnaires should almost always contain multiple-choice questions. They can also be lengthier than other questionnaires due to the ease it takes respondents to answer questions. So as not to offend or turn away clients, read our article on how to write inclusive demographic survey questions.

Individual demographic question examples:

What is your combined annual household income?

  • Less than £25,000
  • £25,00–£50,000
  • £50,000–£75,000
  • £75,000–£125,000
  • More than £125,000

If applicable, which religious affiliation do you follow?

  • Christianity
  • Hindu
  • Judaism
  • Buddhism
  • Islam
  • Other:______
  • None of the above

Business-related demographic question examples:

How many employees does your company have?

  • 1–10
  • 11–50
  • 51–100
  • 101–500
  • 500–1,000
  • 1,000+

What industry best describes your company?

  • Retail
  • Travel
  • E-Commerce
  • SaaS
  • Lead Generation
  • Other:______

4. Product Or Company Review Questionnaire

A product or company review questionnaire aims to gather general insight on how customers perceive a business in general or their products or services. Product review questionnaires often contain CES, CSAT, and Net Promoter Score (NPS) questions.

Product or company review question examples:

How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?

  • Unlikely
  • Likely
  • Extremely likely

How intuitive is our software?

  • Not intuitive
  • Not very intuitive
  • Neutral
  • Somewhat intuitive
  • Very intuitive

Structured Vs Unstructured Questionnaires


Businesses need to know the differences between structured and unstructured questionnaires and when to use each. The section below will help you decipher the two as you begin to design your questionnaire.

Structured Questionnaires

Structured questionnaires, also known as formal questionnaires, collect quantitative data. Once complete, the questionnaire should reveal answers to how much, how often, or how many.

Structured questionnaires are best used to stress test a company’s hypothesis or assumptions. They’re also ideal for measuring against previously accumulated or historical data.

Unstructured Questionnaires

Unstructured questionnaires, sometimes referred to as exploratory questionnaires, collect qualitative data. The collected information isn’t inherently numerical but can be turned into data with sentiment analysis.

Businesses should use unstructured questionnaires during the early stages when they want to learn more about a hypothesis. For example, a startup would send an unstructured questionnaire to discover and test their target audience.

Types Of Questions Within A Questionnaire

In a questionnaire, you can use multiple question types. Having a diverse set of questions can better engage participants, which will increase response rates.

Below are some of the most common question types:

Open-ended questions: Open-ended questions are short-answer questions that require respondents to write their answers. They’re best for providing qualitative data which can be analyzed by text analytics tools and turned into quantitative data.

Dichotomous questions: Think of dichotomous questions as binary questions where only two answer choices are available. The most common dichotomous question is the yes/no question. They’re easy to quantify and help to eliminate burdensome complexities within the data set.

Rating scale questions: Rating scale questions, also known as ordinal questions, supply answer choices with numbers that correspond to an emotion such as displeasure, contentedness, or satisfaction.

Likert scale questions: Likert scale questions measure the extent to which a person agrees or disagrees with a statement. Similar to rating scale questions, Likert scale questions measure sentiment. But while rating scale questions require a number, Likert scale questions can include a corresponding value, but it’s not mandatory.

Multiple-choice questions: Multiple-choice questions allow participants to select one or more answers from a predefined set of answer choices. They’re easy to answer and have lower drop-off rates, providing businesses with lots of data points.

Pictorial questions: Pictorial questions substitute text for pictures or images. They’re often used for branding or advertising questionnaires. Pictorial questions give respondents a pleasant break from reading text, especially on longer surveys. Just make sure the images are correctly formatted for all electronic devices.

Buying propensity questions: These questions aim to assess a customer’s future intentions. They help marketers understand which products have a high ROI and can help determine customer lifetime value.

How To Design A Questionnaire


Creating a well-designed questionnaire can give companies significant insight and data. Unfortunately, a questionnaire that isn’t put together well can create flawed or inaccurate data. The section below details the necessary steps it takes to create a thorough and productive questionnaire.

Know The Questionnaire’s Overall Aim

As you begin to design a questionnaire, consider its overall goal. Contemplate which questions you want to answer most, if this should be a structured or unstructured questionnaire, and who you’re targeting. Once answered, you can now begin the design process.

Decide Early On The Length

Companies with good CX are always conscientious of their clients’ time. Decide early on how long your questionnaire should take. For questionnaires taking longer than 7–8 minutes, completion rates typically drop anywhere from 5% to 20%.

To make sure you have a strong sample size, try to keep the questionnaire length under eight minutes. If you must go past that time limit, offer your customers a strong incentive for taking the questionnaire, such as a promo code on their next purchase or a chance to win a new product or discounted service.

Consider The Order Of Questions

Questions should progress from general to granular, and from factual and behavioral to cognitive. Additionally, it’s best to begin the questionnaire with easy-to-answer closed-ended questions such as dichotomous, multiple-choice, or rating scale questions.

If more qualitative data is needed, ask open-ended questions. These can be follow-ups to multiple-choice questions such as first asking, “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?” and then inquiring, “What made you select that particular answer choice?”

Another option is to ask all closed-ended questions first, then ask short-answer or open-ended questions.

Think About The User Experience And Presentation

When designing your questionnaire, the presentation can adversely affect how respondents will answer. It should be no hassle at all for potential or current clients to answer the entire questionnaire.

Here are a few things to consider when it comes to presenting your questionnaire.

  • Is your questionnaire both desktop- and mobile-friendly?
  • Are instructions written out clearly and concisely?
  • Would it help to have a progress bar or forward and back buttons?
  • Are you making it easy to answer questions via text boxes, radio buttons, or a slider?
  • If being sent via email, is the email subject line enticing, and will it pass spam filters?

Use Simple Language And Terminology

One of the most important aspects of a questionnaire is that the questions are simple, concise, and don’t generate bias. Having poorly worded questions can frustrate respondents, which can skew the results due to respondents answering untruthfully or in a hurry.

Your questionnaire should be free of leading questions like “What did you think of our newly renovated and easy-to-use interface?”

Moreover, the questionnaire’s jargon and diction should be appropriate for the group of respondents. Be careful when using abbreviations to shorten questions. Abbreviations can confuse participants, even if you’re confident they know what the abbreviations mean.

How Questionnaires Improve CX

A well-designed questionnaire can benefit businesses’ CX in a plethora of ways. In general, questionnaires help businesses gather a large amount of data and information on their customers. Once analyzed, companies can then better understand their customers’ voices.


Collect large amounts of data: Businesses can gather lots of data and research quickly and at a relatively inexpensive price point.

Use online survey software to analyze results: Using Chattermill’s analytics software, businesses can quickly and efficiently analyze questionnaire results.

Create easy-to-follow reports: Companies can use dashboards to create digestible reports for multiple departments and internal and external stakeholders alike. These reports will help tell stories through data.

Reflect and reinforce brand image: By sending out questionnaires, businesses can show customers they care about their opinions. Moreover, companies can reinforce their brand voice and image through the design of these questionnaires.

Compare data to historical data and other research: The responses and data can be compared to other relevant research or historical data to better understand changes in the customer journey. From there, companies can update their customer journey map.

Respondents can remain anonymous: Emailed and online questionnaires allow respondents to maintain their anonymity. Anonymity can help respondents feel more comfortable and therefore answer truthfully.

When done correctly, questionnaires can give key insight into customers’ thoughts and perceptions of a business' offerings, products, and services. Remember, questionnaires should not be rushed — it takes time and thought to create a well-designed questionnaire. To better understand how questionnaires play into surveys, read our guide on survey vs questionnaire.

Sources: Harvard Business Review | Survey Monkey

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