The Psychological Impact of Surveys on Customer Perception

Inquiro Posted on February 2, 2024

Imagine you’re browsing through an online store you like. The product you want catches your attention. You click on its photo, skim the description, and then add it to the cart. It’s the typical checkout process, except there’s one change at the end of the transaction. What is it?


A survey.


It’s no surprise to encounter online surveys, especially since two-thirds of companies actively gather customer feedback. But these often do more than help a business understand audience sentiments. The psychology of surveys can actually affect how customers perceive the brand. And positive customer perception is vital for success. 


How can you use a survey to influence customer perception? This article dives into the topic, laying out best practices to ensure that your surveys leave a lasting impression the next time customers purchase from you.

What is Customer Perception

Customer perception is how customers feel and think about your business based on their direct or indirect interactions. It’s a competitive differentiator as influential as your pricing and quality of services. Subtly, it can determine whether a customer buys your products, refers you to others, or chooses your competitors. 


Proactively managing your customer perception is critical to your success in the competitive marketplace, and surveys are pivotal tools in this strategy.

How Surveys Influence Customer Perception 

Surveys directly interact with your brand and can sway customer perception. Reaching out to customers through surveys can subconsciously change how they think of your business. Although research on the topic is still ongoing, here are a few potential ways surveys affect customer psychology. 


  • Reinforce positive feelings 


Surveys can jog customers’ memories about their interactions with your brand, reinforcing positive sentiments. A study found that surveys starting with open-ended positive solicitations—such as asking customers about what went well while purchasing from a business—resulted in an almost 33% increase in customer spending compared to surveys that didn’t. 


  • Increase customer satisfaction


Customers value brands that value them. Sending surveys means you value your customers’ insights, which can generate positive feelings and attitudes toward your company.


  • Leverage feedback for brand investment 


Customer feedback can act like an investment in the success of your business. It changes the customer-brand relationship into a more collaborative, two-way interaction rather than a one-way sales transaction.


  • Predict future customer interactions


Surveys tend to trigger the question-behavior effect, as found by Rice Business professors Utpal Dholakia, Robert Westbrook, and Siddarth Singh.

This effect states that surveys can subconsciously determine a customer’s future behavior with the brand based on their current sentiments. Customers who provide positive feedback in surveys are more likely to make additional purchases, either immediately or at a later time. 


  • Impacts customer relationships


Although surveys are excellent indicators that you value your customers, conducting them poorly could damage more than nourish your customer relationships. 


For instance, excessive survey requests, such as weekly emails, can make your brand appear intrusive and spammy to customers. Additionally, not addressing multiple respondents’ concerns may make them think your surveys are disingenuous. 


To improve your survey strategy, you must understand the different types of surveys to send more relevant ones to your customers.

4 Types of Surveys that Measure Customer Perception

Surveys serve different purposes, meaning their format depends on what you intend to find out. Here are a few survey types to help you measure various aspects of customer perception.

1. Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys

NPS measures how likely customers are to recommend your brand on a scale of 1-10. Detractors (scoring 1-6) are unlikely to recommend you, Passives (scoring 7-8) are indifferent, and Promoters (scoring 9-10) are extremely likely to recommend your brand. 


Calculating NPS involves subtracting the percentage of your Detractors from the percentage of your Promoters. Understanding this tells you your brand’s word-of-mouth potential, among your most powerful marketing channels for forming customer perception.

2. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) surveys

CSAT surveys ask customers to rate from 1-10 or 1-5 how well your product or service met their expectations. The average score from responses helps identify areas your business needs to improve. 

3. Customer Effort Score (CES) surveys

How simple or easy to use is your product or service? That’s what CES surveys aim to discover, asking customers to rate your product or service’s ease of use on a scale from 1-7. 


Insights from CES surveys can reveal whether your offering is too complicated for customers. A smoother and easier customer experience can, in turn, boost satisfaction and potentially even retention.

4. Brand Awareness surveys

These surveys revolve around how customers know your brand, where they first encountered it, and their perceptions of what your brand stands for. It’s an excellent way to gauge how they perceive your brand to help you understand your customer psychology more. 

The Benefits of Surveys for Businesses 

Surveys are powerful in understanding customer behavior. Aside from being a means to influence customer perception, its true purpose benefits your business in the following ways.


  • Enhanced customer loyalty


Surveys allow you to understand what customers want from you. Personalizing customer experiences based on survey responses increases customer loyalty. Elastic reports that 88% of customers are likelier to continue buying from businesses offering personalized experiences. 


  • Informed decision-making


You won’t know what’s best for your customers if you can’t even hear what they have to say. Through customer data analysis from your survey responses, you can better determine which features of your business, product, or services to double down on and which aren’t bringing favorable returns. 

Customer surveys allow you to gather feedback about your products and services to determine areas to prioritize and improve.

For instance, if you run a software-as-a-service (SaaS) business, survey feedback helps you understand which features your users enjoy the most, guiding your resource allocation.


  • Improved service and product quality 


No matter how well you build your product, you won’t know how effective it is—or if it even works as you intended it to—without direct customer feedback. Surveys allow you to gather the opinions and sentiments of vast swaths of customers to understand why your products and services may not be as good as you initially thought.


  • Identified trends 


Do you notice a pattern in the survey responses? That could indicate a trend emerging. 


The modern digital landscape is continuously shifting; a meme that users find funny today may already be outdated by next week. Referencing mainstream events in your online marketing once it’s past may cause customers to perceive your brand as late to the party. 


You must understand what’s trending as soon as possible to allow your brand to remain relevant to your customers and be part of the conversation. 


  • Defined customer profile


The responses to your survey help you understand consumer behavior much better. You can use the data as part of your customer profiling efforts to paint a clearer picture of your ideal customers and those currently engaging with your brand.


These benefits are attainable by running the right survey that aligns with your needs.

Online Survey Best Practices for Businesses 

Surveys take time and consume a significant amount of your team’s resources. Here are a few best practices to ensure you conduct it well and maximize the respondent’s time.


  • Define survey objectives


According to Forrester, customers are 2.7 times more likely to spend more if a company communicates with them clearly. The statistic highlights how being clear about your objectives with your survey can benefit your customer perception and, potentially, even revenue. It also helps to reassure respondents that you’re following ethical standards to protect their data.


  • Write survey questions


The question you ask can usually determine the quality of the answer you receive. For instance, close-ended, Yes/No questions often won’t give you much insight into what a customer genuinely thinks about your brand or details how the last interaction with your products or services went.


While there may be no bad questions, you must still structure and model your queries based on what you intend to find out. 


  • Know the right timing to send a survey


Constantly receiving feedback from your customers allows you to improve your business faster. However, a big caveat here is that asking customers to answer surveys too often may begin to seem like you’re spamming them, decreasing the likelihood that they’ll respond.


The best time to ask for customer feedback is immediately after a transaction or conversion. It helps to embed your survey within the customer journey to ensure prompt responses while the experience is still fresh in their minds. 


Additionally, you can send it after customers have had ample time to enjoy your product or services fully. The exact time will depend on your product, so it’s best to test with varying stages.


  • Boost participation with incentives


A hurdle you must overcome to run an effective survey is to reach a high number of respondents. 


Low response rates could skew and bias your data, creating false positives or negatives since customers at the extremes (very satisfied or dissatisfied) tend to be more willing to answer surveys—sharing why they really liked or hated their experience with you—you’ll need to incentivize the quiet majority to share their opinions. 


Incentives could range from discounts to free products. You may need to allocate a budget for incentives, considering the value of insights you’ll gain.


  • Keep it simple


Although surveys vary in length, customers aren’t likely to spend half an hour answering it if they’ve just completed a transaction. That’s why it’s important to keep your survey simple and concise to improve response rates. 


Understand exactly what you’re looking for. For instance, if you want to gauge where you’re most popular, a brand awareness survey with the question, “Where did you hear about us?” is straightforward while still giving you valuable insights.

Letting You Know Who Likes You 

Customer perception is integral to your business success, and it’s something to consider at every stage, including when conducting surveys.


Surveys are powerful tools for receiving direct customer feedback on various aspects of your business, from the tangible products to the customer experience. Applying the tips mentioned above can help you hit two birds with one stone when you run a survey; it allows you to gather feedback while also influencing customer psychology.


That said, it doesn’t mean you should stop there. Inquiro’s customer analytics solutions allow you to make intelligent decisions based on the insights you collect. Contact us today to improve your customer experience.