Why you should use more open-ended questions in CX

Posted on 4 min.

In 2020, processing textual answers takes less time than it used to, and even just a few verbose customers can greatly enlighten you about your service’s or product’s highs and lows.


Marketing and sales experts all agree that collecting customer feedback and learning from the voice of the customer is a must for businesses. Measuring satisfaction can easily be done by asking customers to rate the different elements of the service. Collecting such scores results in high response rates, while analysing them is relatively quick and simple – not to mention that the results are quantifiable.

The problem with focusing only on scores and KPIs though is that you cannot learn about the reasons behind them. It is good to know that you earned 4 stars out of 5, but what drove the customer to give this specific score?

Even simple answers might reveal more than scores

To find out about the reasons behind the scores, you need to inquire in an open-ended format, for example by simply asking: "Why did you give us that score?" Customers will appreciate the short and formal question. When you set up your survey, don’t make it mandatory to answer this question (you don’t want to lose any scores or responses). Even if only a handful of people answer, you will still gain some great insights about customers’ preferences.

Open-ended questions are less biased: your customers will have the opportunity to answer whatever they like, without limiting or influencing them with predefined answers. What they write - be it a one-word answer or a long review of multiple sentences - will surely help your team to identify love points and pain points.

It doesn’t have to be scary anymore

Open-ended questions used to be mostly avoided because their response rates are lower compared to other question types. It was also hard to analyse and process textual answers, even though these are the real manifestations of customer voice.

The modern way of processing open-ended questions is automated text analysis. If you choose this method, you do not have to be afraid of including even multiple open-ended questions in one survey. It will not cost you more processing time, while it will give you more insights about the drivers of your customers.

A good text analytics software will not only help you process all the textual answers, it will also identify key topics, brands, locations and emotions along the way, among many other features.

We suggest using less complicated surveys, where questions focus on the important factors: customer preferences, problems and wishes.

Get the most out of answers

Let’s say you’ve included a couple of open-ended questions in your survey, and you’ve successfully identified your customers’ main opinions. It doesn’t have to end there!

Since you’ve got more insight now, try to make the most out of your customers’ time that they spent on answering those questions, and use their answers for developing your products. You can also display some of the best answers as reviews or testimonials on your website or on your product’s label. Customers will appreciate that their opinions are truly valued and you will stand out as a company that listens to customers.


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Péter Szekeres

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