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.


Keep it simple

While survey methodologies like Net Promoter Score and Customer Effort Score are built to accommodate more complex questions, Thumb surveys are fundamentally far more simple. With just two response options, Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down, there is no room for nuance in the rating a customer selects. The clear-cut, black-and-white construction of the survey should be taken into consideration when designing your question. 

Here’s an example of a question you’d want to avoid:

What's wrong here? The question is simply too complex to be covered by a binary rating scale. If someone was happy with the shopping experience, but dissatisfied with the price of the clothes, where would there fall on this scale - particularly since there's no neutral option?

Instead, option for a streamlined question that more definitively appeals for a customer to select one answer:

With this question, we're focusing on: 1) A specific area where we need feedback (instead of preloading the question with too many variables/conditions) and 2) Including a question that can be reasonably answered with a "Yes" or "No".

In a nutshell, Thumbs are a simple survey method. That simplicity is what ultimately drives higher engagement, clearer data, and more actionable feedback. Don't overcomplicate the question and dilute those key benefits of Thumb surveys!


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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