What is a Survey? (+ Examples & Tips)

9 min read

Surveys are an indispensable tool for gathering insights and information. They provide organizations with direct access to clients, allowing them to collect vital feedback to improve their offers and services. Understanding the function of surveys in this process is critical for businesses dedicated to providing an excellent customer experience. 

In this article, we’ll delve into the importance of surveys and how you can harness them to elevate customer satisfaction and loyalty. Let’s start by answering the question, “What is a survey?” and identifying its different forms.

What is a survey in business?

In business, a survey serves as a structured means of engaging with customers and employees on a broader scale. Instead of conducting individual conversations, you utilize forms, emails, or phone calls to gather insights from your customer base. As such, the definition of survey in research is parallel to that of its business usage. Surveys are pivotal tools for understanding customer and employee opinions, preferences, and behaviors.

Whether it’s soliciting feedback on a new product or gauging customer satisfaction, surveys play a critical role in fostering informed business decisions. They provide invaluable data that guides strategic initiatives and fosters improvements in products, services, and overall customer experience. 

By harnessing the power of surveys, you can gain profound insights into your customer base, ultimately empowering effective strategies based on critical survey information to meet your business’s evolving needs.The ideal survey response rate is relative to the industry, the distribution method used, and the survey’s target audience. An acceptable response rate can be around 5% to 30%. A response rate of over 30% is deemed exceptional. Knowing what is branding and a brand’s target audience can help raise the response rate considerably.

5 Characteristics of Survey Campaigns

Surveys may come in various forms but they often have several commonalities in terms of their approach to collecting and processing information. This ensures data accuracy and accounts for the special features per market segment. Let’s delve into the 5 characteristics of survey initiatives.

Structured Approach 

A survey is a study that has a well-defined data collection process. Respondents answer a predetermined set of questions, ensuring consistency in the information gathered. This structured format simplifies data comparison and analysis across responses. You can check this article for NPS survey question examples

Standardized Instruments 

Surveys typically rely on standardized questionnaires or tools, guaranteeing uniformity in data collection across different participants and settings. Standardization helps minimize bias and bolsters the reliability and validity of the survey results. 

Focus on Quantifiable Data 

Surveys primarily yield quantitative data. This includes numerical responses or categorical data that can be easily quantified and analyzed statistically. The numerical format allows researchers to identify trends, patterns, and relationships between variables. 

Moreover, it exhibits flexibility in the type of data it can gather. For instance, what is a survey in real estate? Surveys can be leveraged to capture information regarding property dimensions, fixtures, layout, boundaries, and potential issues. 

Representative Sampling 

Surveys often utilize sampling techniques to select a subgroup of the population for data collection. Through random or stratified sampling methods, surveys aim to ensure the chosen sample accurately reflects the larger population. This allows researchers to confidently generalize their findings.

For instance, what is a survey in psychology? Psychology surveys consolidate data based on thoughts, behaviors, attitudes, and experiences and are classified under different demographics. Representative sampling is applied here to guarantee accuracy per demographic subgroup..

Objective Measurement 

Surveys prioritize gathering objective data by focusing on measurable and observable phenomena. Questions are crafted to elicit factual information or opinions from respondents, rather than subjective interpretations. The emphasis on objectivity strengthens the reliability and validity of the survey findings. Given that surveys can take time to prepare, there are software solutions that optimize the survey creation and delivery processes. For instance, whether you’re an e-commerce business owner or a coach, there are available survey templates and coaching tools that can be customized to account for workflows, a business’ branding initiatives, and the key visuals per segment.

Types of Surveys

There are different forms of surveys, each with a distinct purpose and set of characteristics. Understanding the different surveys can help you select the most appropriate method of data collection for various scenarios. What is a survey example? Here are the four general types of surveys along with their advantages and disadvantages:

Online Surveys

Online surveys are digital tools for capturing feedback and data. They leverage web-based forms or platforms, making participation a breeze for respondents. This translates to businesses reaching a wider audience faster, all at a fraction of the cost compared to traditional methods.

On average, the response rate of online surveys is 44.1%. The trick to raising this percentage is to tailor the survey according to the interests and preferences of your targeted populations of subgroups. 


  • Wide reach: Can reach a large audience quickly and easily.
  • Cost-effective: Minimal costs compared to other survey methods like phone or mail.
  • Convenience: Respondents can complete surveys at their own pace and convenience.


  • Limited demographic representation: This may not capture responses from certain demographics, such as those with limited internet access.
  • Response bias: Responses may be influenced by factors such as survey length or respondent motivation.
  • Lack of personalization: The personal touch of face-to-face or phone surveys may be lacking.

Phone Surveys

Phone surveys involve conducting interviews with respondents over the phone, allowing for real-time interaction between interviewers and respondents. While they can be more costly, they often yield higher response rates compared to other methods.


  • Personal interaction: Allows for real-time interaction between interviewer and respondent.
  • Higher response rates: Generally higher response rates compared to online surveys.
  • Ability to clarify questions: Interviewers can clarify any confusion or misunderstandings about survey questions.


  • Cost: Typically more expensive than online surveys due to labor and phone charges.
  • Limited reach: May not be feasible to reach certain demographics, such as those without access to a phone or those who prefer not to participate.
  • Potential for interviewer bias: Responses may be influenced by the interviewer’s tone or behavior.

Email Surveys

Email surveys are sent out to respondents via email, providing a convenient and low-cost way to gather feedback. While they offer ease of distribution, they may face challenges such as low response rates and lack of personalization.


  • Low cost: Minimal cost associated with sending out surveys via email.
  • Convenience: Respondents can complete surveys at their convenience.
  • Easy to track responses: Email survey tools often come with features for tracking responses and analyzing data.


  • Low response rates: Emails may go unnoticed or get lost in spam folders, resulting in lower response rates.
  • Lack of personalization: Surveys sent via email may lack the personal touch of other survey methods.
  • Potential for respondent fatigue: Respondents may be inundated with emails and less likely to respond to survey requests.

In-person Surveys

In-person surveys involve face-to-face interviews between interviewers and respondents, providing an opportunity for personal interaction and observation of non-verbal cues. While they offer high response rates, they can be time-consuming and costly to conduct.


  • Personal interaction: Allows for direct interaction between interviewer and respondent, fostering trust and rapport.
  • Ability to observe non-verbal cues: Interviewers can observe respondents’ body language and facial expressions, providing additional insights.
  • Higher response rates: Generally higher response rates compared to online or email surveys.


  • Time-consuming: Conducting in-person surveys can be time-consuming and labor-intensive.
  • Cost: Higher costs associated with travel, interviewer wages, and data entry.
  • Potential for interviewer bias: Responses may be influenced by the interviewer’s presence or behavior.

What are the benefits of surveys?

The flexibility of surveys enables businesses to apply them in various aspects of operations. They can be used to generate insights, determine customer responses to products, and identify areas for improvement in the performance of business teams. To provide a more vivid picture, here are some of the primary benefits of surveys:

Informed Decision Making

Surveys are incredibly valuable tools that can greatly support decision-making within businesses. Through the collection of feedback directly from customers, surveys offer valuable insights into their preferences, needs, and behaviors. 

This data empowers businesses to make well-informed strategic decisions, whether it’s pinpointing areas for enhancement, creating innovative products or services, or prioritizing initiatives that resonate with customer preferences. With the help of survey data, businesses can strategically navigate the competitive landscape and maintain a competitive edge.

Enhanced Customer Satisfaction

Surveys are instrumental in boosting customer success and satisfaction. Regularly soliciting feedback allows businesses to gauge satisfaction levels and pinpoint areas needing improvement. This proactive approach empowers businesses to address issues swiftly, leading to higher satisfaction and loyalty among customers. Additionally, surveys enable businesses to track changes in customer sentiment over time, providing valuable insights into evolving customer needs and preferences. Leveraging surveys can raise a brand’s CSAT score.

Performance Measurement and Improvement

Surveys can be incredibly valuable in gauging and assessing the impact of business strategies and customer experience initiatives. Through the collection of customer feedback at different touchpoints along their journey, businesses can evaluate the effects of their actions on satisfaction and loyalty. By adopting a data-driven approach, businesses gain valuable insights into their operations, empowering them to make informed decisions regarding future improvements. With a keen eye on performance and constant surveying, businesses can stay ahead of the competition and achieve long-term growth.

Create a Competitive Edge

Surveys unlock a powerful advantage. They businesses a window into customer perceptions, preferences, and behaviors. This deep understanding allows businesses to pinpoint their unique strengths and tailor their offerings and marketing strategies to resonate better with customer needs. 

Furthermore, by continuously gathering feedback, businesses can stay ahead of the curve. They can anticipate and adapt to evolving market trends, ensuring they remain industry leaders. Surveys keep businesses in tune with their customers, allowing them to stand out in a crowded marketplace and achieve long-term success. As those pursuing the cheapest way to become a psychologist will learn, a survey serves as a psychological tool for leveraging customer interests and shaping their perceptions.

Engaging Survey Participants

Engaging participants in surveys is crucial for gathering accurate and valuable data. When participants are engaged, they are more likely to provide thoughtful and honest responses, leading to higher-quality data. Additionally, engaged participants are more likely to complete the survey, reducing the risk of dropout and ensuring a higher response rate

One of the key benefits of engaging participants is that it enhances the validity of the survey results. When participants are actively involved in the survey process, they are more invested in providing accurate responses. This leads to more reliable data that better reflects the attitudes, opinions, and behaviors of the target population.

Keeping participants engaged also fosters a positive relationship between researchers and respondents. By creating a pleasant and interactive survey experience, researchers can build trust and rapport with participants, encouraging them to participate in future surveys and research studies.

How to Create Effective Surveys

To effectively engage participants in surveys, researchers can implement various strategies. Keep the interests of each subgroup you are targeting in mind to raise engagement and completion rates. This can also influence participants to take the survey seriously, leading to accurate responses. 

  • Keep it Clear and Simple. Use plain language that everyone understands. Avoid jargon and technical terms to ensure the survey is accessible to a broad audience with varying educational backgrounds. The clarity helps participants grasp the survey’s purpose and answer questions accurately.
  • Personalize the Experience. Tailor the survey experience to the general interests of each subgroup. Personalized greetings, invitations, and even content can make participants feel valued, leading to higher engagement and completion rates.
  • Make it Visually Appealing. Incorporate visually appealing elements like images, colors, and graphics. Visuals grab attention, enhance the survey experience, and make the process more enjoyable.
  • Boost Engagement with Interactive Features. Include interactive elements like sliders, drag-and-drop options, and engaging question formats. This interactivity encourages active participation and makes the survey more dynamic.
  • Motivate with Incentives. Incentives provide an extra push to complete the survey and increase response rates. Offer incentives like rewards, discounts, or entries into prize drawings. From custom water bottles to tech gadgets, selecting the best personalized rewards that resonate with your audience’s preferences can significantly uplift your survey engagement rates.

Smart Sampling. The rule of thumb in sampling is smaller populations require higher sampling ratios to ensure accuracy. Ideally, a ratio of 30% is the minimum requirement for a surveyed population of 1,000. Meanwhile, a population of 10,000 requires a ratio of around 10%.


Surveys are indispensable tools that offer essential insights into customer preferences, employee satisfaction, and market trends. Understanding their defining characteristics, including structured approaches and a focus on quantifiable data, leads to the production of reliable and accurate insights through a structured means of gathering information. These insights lay a robust foundation for informed decision-making. 

As such, encouraging businesses to incorporate surveys into their operations is paramount, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and customer-centricity. By actively soliciting feedback from customers and employees, businesses demonstrate their commitment to responsiveness, ultimately enhancing satisfaction and loyalty. 

The potential benefits of leveraging surveys effectively are vast, ranging from unlocking actionable insights to identifying emerging market opportunities. Surveys empower businesses to gain a competitive edge, optimize offerings, and cultivate strong stakeholder relationships. Embracing surveys strategically equips businesses to adapt, innovate, and thrive in today’s ever-evolving market landscape.

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