Best Practices for Using Medallia Survey Questions

June 10, 2015 Appirio

By Elliott Johnson


Intent doesn’t always equal impact. The space between what we ask in a survey and what we expect to receive leaves quite a bit of room for interpretation. For example, everyone’s perception of time — especially when it entails waiting — is different. When surveying customers, it’s best to avoid time-related questions, but if we need one, we’ll quantify it as well as possible. Fortunately, Medallia, an operational customer experience management system makes it easy to create and send surveys, collect responses, and even run analytics on the data. So you can get actionable insights into your organization’s customer experience in real time.

But however you create and send a survey to customers, the key is always to make sure the questions align with the results you expect to receive. Here I’ll talk through a number of best practices for cultivating a successful survey using Medallia.

Keep it short

The 3 most prominent influencers to a survey’s response rate are salience of topic, incentive, and length. Barring payment for taking a survey, the easiest item to impact is length. So why keep a survey short?

  • Customers view a survey as an extension of the customer experience. We don’t want to burn out a client with a long survey.
  • The shorter a survey, the fewer people abandon it. Reducing the time to complete a survey by even 1 minute can reduce abandonment rates by 3 percent.
  • Improved response rates as a result of communicating the survey length from the start. Merely mentioning how short a survey is in an email subject line improves the amount of survey takers.

Double-barreled questions

Brevity is king in survey design, though often we want to combine questions to save real estate. On a 0-10 scale, asking if a salesman was both efficient and courteous in the same line degrades the integrity of a metric. Say the salesman scores a 2/10. Then we have no course of action. We can’t pin the result to efficiency or courteousness as our metric encompasses both. This is why it’s important to separate such questions out.


When asking a question with a quantifiable metric, how do we make our scale? What is our form of measure? 1 to 5? 1 to 7?

  • Use an 11 point scale: 0 to 10. More points gives more variability to the data and allows us to distinguish highs and lows more effectively. Take a peek at the same survey question asked in a 5-point vs. an 11-point scale.







  • Why not 1-10? Well, some cultures interpret number 1 as the high point. This sort of confusion can ruin a data set. As an added benefit, 0 to 10 is also aligned with NPS.
  • 0 to 10 or 10 to 0? The vast majority of languages are written left to right, so stick with 0 to 10 for most instances.

What questions to ask

When thinking of what questions to include in your survey, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Should we already know the answer? Be positive you can’t obtain the information from somewhere else. We don’t want to make a client feel like we’re not listening.
  • Is this actionable? If a score is low, what’s the game plan? Can we do anything to fix it? If not, don’t ask.
  • Is this a leading question? Don’t do this: “_____ is by far my favorite brand!” Do this: “Overall, how satisfied are you with _____?” We don’t want to beg an answer or imply a specific response.
  • Is it simple? Keep it simple. The text and wording should be easy to understand and avoid ambiguity. Avoid words like, “should,” “could,” and “might.” Avoid concepts such as distance and time. This is along the intent = impact line of thinking.

By asking logical, unique questions with Medallia, you can get a better idea of typical customer interactions. This will enable your organization to provide a more consistent brand experience and more positive interactions in the future. With that, you’re ready to survey away!

Previous Article
How to Save Dashboard Space in Analytics Cloud
How to Save Dashboard Space in Analytics Cloud

By Surbhi Jain Salesforce’s Analytics Cloud — better known as Wave — was released at Dreamforce in 2014. Si...

Next Article
11 Integration Tips to Hit Your Cornerstone OnDemand Go-Live Date
11 Integration Tips to Hit Your Cornerstone OnDemand Go-Live Date

by Kevin Churbuck Having had the benefit of being both an Implementation Consultant and an Integration Cons...