What are some best practices for 5-star surveys?

5-star surveys are one of the most conventional and widely used methods for collecting customer feedback. However, there are some key considerations that are unique to the 5-star scale that you’ll want to keep in mind when customizing and deploying your surveys.


1 star for negative, 5 stars for positive

Always customize your survey in a way where 5 stars represents the positive upper limit, and 1 star represents the negative lower limit. The 1 (Negative) to 5 (Positive) scale is the most widely accepted and intuitive rating structure for the 5-star system. 

Using an Intro Message and/or survey question with an alternative structure (ex. where 5 stars is considered negative) can confuse those receiving the survey, result in incorrect responses, and artificially inflate certain scores.

Here’s an example of an Intro Message you’d want to avoid:


Keep it simple

Less is more when it comes to question customization. When combining a straightforward ranking system (like the 5-star scale) and open-ended question customization, surveys can often become very complex, very quickly. Here are two key areas to avoid:

  • Don’t combine questions: If you’re using the word “and” in your question, your survey is likely touching on separate topics. Consider the question: “How was your service with our shipping and customer support?” What if the shipping was a 5, but the support was a 1? Your scores will be more accurate, and feedback more actionable, if you narrow the focus to one specific topic.
  • Avoid too much jargon: 5-star surveys are so effective largely due to their simplicity. Adding in too much language can quickly confuse the customer as to why you’re reaching out. For example: “When considering your recent purchase experience, specifically any online purchase made after Jan. 1st and before Aug. 1st, how would you rate the quality of support received via our chat widget?” This question quickly becomes confusing and overly specific- most folks will simply avoid trying to make sense of it and exit the email. Keep your questions short and sweet.

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