"Would you hire this person to work for you?"
That was the only question that I had to answer after a phone call with Delta Customer Service; that was the entire survey. And it was a very good one for two reasons:
Delta didn't waste my time. A one-question survey that can be answered with one word takes very little time; so little in fact, that I liked Delta more after completing the survey, because I flet they respected my time. Long surveys can actually do more harm than good by alienating customers. Show your customers some respect, by keeping your surveys short. Nobody likes a lenghty interrogation.
Delta got a lot of value in return. They asked me a very "pithy" question that drove right to the heart of the matter: The quality of Customer Service is a function of the quality of the people delivering the service. And if you ask me if I'd actually hire the person that served me, I can't hide behind a "nice guy" feel-good response. I'm put in a position to give you an honest answer - or tell an outright lie (highly unlikey for most customers, especially when they're givng the answer by tapping a number on their telephone keypad).
Too many surveys ask light-weight questions like:
"Was the representative courteous?"
"Please rate your experience on a scale of 1 to 5."
Questions like that let the customer off easy; they skirt the real issue. And the real issue is: Did the service experience leave the customer feeling like they're buying from a first-class company? (Customers never stop buying from companies they consider to be first-class.)
Don't hesitate to put your customers on the spot, because we customers don't mind telling you what we really think. In fact, we prefer it. And so will you, because you'll have feedback that's more meaningful, and more useful. And that's why you're doing the survey in the first place, isn't it?