Episode 122 | June 17, 2024

How to design effective customer surveys: Insights from Caroline Jarrett

In this Insights Unlocked episode, Caroline Jarrett outlines her process for designing an effective customer survey.

How to design effective customer surveys: Insights from Caroline Jarrett

Creating effective surveys and forms is both an art and a science. In Episode 122 of the Insights Unlocked podcast, we had the pleasure of hosting Caroline Jarrett, a renowned expert in the field, who shared her invaluable insights on how to design surveys that work. Here, we delve into the key themes and ideas presented in this episode.

Introduction to Caroline Jarrett

Caroline Jarrett is a specialist in forms and surveys, known for her books "Surveys That Work" and "Forms That Work." Celebrating 30 years of consultancy, Caroline has dedicated her career to understanding the intricacies of survey design and methodology.

"It's not just a form, it's a process." — Caroline Jarrett

The Importance of Starting with Interviews

One of the foundational insights Caroline shared is the importance of beginning with interviews before launching a survey. Interviews help you understand the vocabulary and concerns of your respondents, ensuring that your survey questions are relevant and clear.

"Listen first, ask second." — Caroline Jarrett

Focusing on the Most Crucial Questions

Caroline emphasizes the need to identify and prioritize the most crucial questions in a survey. This approach helps avoid overwhelming respondents and ensures that the data collected is meaningful.

"A survey is a quantitative method. The result is a number." — Caroline Jarrett

Iterative Testing and Design

The episode highlights the importance of iterative testing in survey design. Continuous refinement based on feedback is crucial for creating user-friendly and effective surveys. Caroline and Mike stress that testing should not be a one-time process but an ongoing part of survey development.

"Testing is not one and done. Research is not one and done." — Mike McDowell

The Role of AI in Surveys

The conversation explores the impact of AI on surveys. While AI can enhance data processing, human oversight remains essential for interpreting complex responses accurately. Caroline shares her early experiences with AI, providing a historical perspective on its development and current applications.

"We still need people in the mix. That's what got me interested in well, okay, how do I design forms so that people fill them in correctly?" — Caroline Jarrett

Practical Tips for Form Design

Caroline offers practical advice on optimizing form design. For example, placing confirmatory fields below the initial input fields can significantly reduce errors. She also cautions against using placeholder text inside input boxes, as it often leads to confusion.

"It's necessary to understand what matters to the people answering your survey." — Caroline Jarrett

The Future of Surveys

Looking ahead, the integration of AI into survey methodologies will continue to evolve. However, the balance between technological advancements and human insights will be crucial for the success of future surveys.

Special Offer

To celebrate her participation in the podcast, Caroline offers a 15% discount on her book "Surveys That Work" from Rosenfeld Media. Use the code CJFORMS24 at checkout, valid through July 2024.


This episode is a treasure trove of insights for anyone involved in UX research, product design, or customer experience. By implementing Caroline's expert advice, you can create surveys and forms that not only gather data but also drive meaningful insights and informed decision-making.

Episode Links

Stream On


Get Started Now

Contact Sales