Customer Feedback Surveys - Where to Put the OSAT Question?

Confirmit Team

Confirmit Team

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Confirmit’s dedicated teams work to deliver world-leading customer experience, Voice of the Employee and Market Research solutions. 

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Confirmit's best practices for customer satisfaction and feedback survey questions

While designing just about any voice of the customer survey, many debate the right placement of their key customer satisfaction questions such as “Overall Satisfaction with the Company” (or OSAT) and “Willingness to Recommend”.  Some place these key questions at the beginning of their customer feedback surveys, while others lean towards placing these types of questions at the end. 

There’s no right or wrong answer to this issue of OSAT question placement.  However, the placement can and likely will alter your survey results, so it’s important to carefully consider which placement makes the most sense for your business needs.

Confirmit has compiled a set of best practices from our own expertise and discussions with leading Market Researchers to help you overcome challenges linked with survey fatigue and placement of survey questions.



Placing OSAT Questions First

Are you trying to capture your customers’ top of mind, immediate reaction response?  If the answer is yes, then questions about overall satisfaction with the company and likelihood to recommend or renew should be placed up front in the survey design.  Be aware that placing OSAT questions at the beginning of your survey can yield higher scores than if you place them at the end – depending on the content of the rest of your survey questions.

The advantage of placing OSAT questions up front is that you’ll likely get a higher total number of responses to them—even if a respondent drops off later in the survey, you’ll still have captured data for them on the key questions.  Placing key questions first also means that if you make changes to content that comes later in the survey, you won’t have to worry about whether those changes will impact your key questions.

Placing OSAT Questions Last

Placing the key OSAT questions at the end of the survey allows you to walk your customers/clients through their entire experience with your company before they answer questions about overall satisfaction levels.  This may cause them to recall a certain experience or event that they might not have thought of immediately if you had asked them a key question up front.  Although this sometimes leads to lower scores on the OSAT questions, it can also help clarify areas for improvement and make them more obvious.   Placing key questions last also works well if a good amount of time has elapsed since the interaction you may be questioning, or if the last time you gathered this type of feedback happened a while ago.  As the customer goes through the preliminary parts of the survey, the questions can trigger memories they need to mindfully respond to OSAT questions.

However, if you decide to place OSAT questions at the end, then be aware that any change you make to the rest of your survey content can add bias and possibly change the outcome of the responses.  If you ask the OSAT questions up front, then at least you don’t have to worry about adding additional bias when other questions change; you also keep the ability to tweak your questionnaire without having to check how those changes will impact responses to other questions that come after.

What if I’m still not sure?

There are several options for survey design if you’re still unsure which placement is best for your program.  You can test your options: start your survey with placement of the questions in either the front of the survey or towards the end, gather data for a given time period, and review how the results trend.  Then test the questions in the alternate position for the same length of time to determine which results give you the best data to drive change.  One caution in this approach is to make sure that the customers you’re surveying for each test are similar in nature, since different client types can also give different results.

Another option – which is not done often but can be insightful as well – is putting OSAT questions at both the beginning and end of the survey, but wording them slightly differently.  This will allow you to trend the results for both side by side over the same time period, so you can really see if the results are different in a way that helps you identify changes that will achieve your overall business goals. 

Whatever you decide in your survey design, make sure you own the choice you make for placement of these very fundamental questions.  It’s important to be able to use the results of the questions to determine your next move to increase not only satisfaction scores, but the value of your voice of the customer program as a whole. Question placement really does impact your overall results, and it’s extremely important to make a well thought-out decision that you can stick with.