- Every question you ask is expensive. (Expensive in terms of loyalty and goodwill). Don't ask a question unless you truly care about the answer. This means that a vague question with vague answers (extremely satisfied…acceptable…extremely dissatisfied and no scale to compare them to) is a total waste of time. What action will you take based on that? It's smarter to ask, "how much would you say lunch was worth?"
- Every question you ask changes the way your users think. If you ask, "which did you hate more…" then you've planted a seed.
- Make it easy for the user to bail. If you have 20 questions (that's a lot!) make it easy to quit after five and have those answers still count. If you waste my time and then don't count my answers, see #2.
- Make the questions entertaining and not so serious, at least some of them. Boring surveys deserve the boring results they generate.
- Don't be afraid to shake up the format. Instead of saying, "Here are ten things, rank them all on a scale of one to five…" why not let people compare things? "We had two speakers, Bob and Ray. Who was better?"
Bottom line: before you let the survey guys run a survey of your loyal customer base, make them pay you with resources you can use to reinvigorate those users you just bothered.