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Using survey branching logic

Create different paths in your survey using branching logic to give each customer a tailored experience.

Beth-Ann Sher avatar
Written by Beth-Ann Sher
Updated over a week ago

Send your customers down different paths in a survey depending on their responses to questions for an experience that’s tailored to them. Using branching logic, you can customize which questions and Thank You steps your customer sees based on their response to previous closed ended questions.

The end user experience is identical to a survey without branching. The only difference is that the questions should feel personalized to the responses that they give.

This comes in handy when your customer:

  • Submits a low NPS® score - you may want the next question in the survey to read something like: “We’re sorry to hear that. How can we do better in the future?”

  • Submits a high NPS® score - you may want to find out what they love most about your product in a follow up question, or encourage them to refer a friend at the end of the survey on the Thank You step.

  • Doesn’t meet the qualification criteria for your preliminary survey questions - you may want to send them straight to the Thank You step if you don’t need to collect any more responses from them.

Closed ended questions include:

  • Ratings scales (e.g. NPS®, numeric rating, star rating, emoji rating).

  • Dropdown.

  • Multiple choice.

Let’s get started:

Decide which questions to ask and which responses to apply branching logic to

To get started, use our checklist of things to consider before creating your survey. Then draw a diagram of all the potential paths your customers could take through the survey before building it in Intercom, like the one below:

Build out the survey in Intercom

You can add up to 12 Question steps and up to 3 Thank You step variations when you create your survey. You’ll want to keep the steps in the same order that you would like them to be presented to your customers as much as possible.

For example, using the diagram above, here’s what that would look like as an NPS® Survey with the different follow up questions for detractors, passives and promoters:

Important: Question branching takes place at the step level in a survey. For large format surveys, any question that you wish to branch to must be created in a new step and not added to the same step. For small format surveys, each question is its own step and allows branching.

Add in branching logic

When you’ve finished adding all the potential question steps to the survey, click “Add branching logic” to start adding your branching rules:

Important: Branching logic can only be applied based on answers to closed ended questions in the survey. It’s not possible to branch based on responses to open ended questions, user attributes or company attributes. Using the NPS® Survey example, you can branch after the first question because it’s a closed ended question based on a single score. But you can’t branch after the other questions because they allow free text input from the customer.

Find the step you want to branch from and click “Add rule”:

Then click “+ Add data” and select the question that collects the response data you want to base your branching on.

Using the NPS® Survey example, you could create the following branching rules based on how customers responded in Step 1:

  • If the customer responded with a score less than 7, then send them to Step 2.

  • If the customer responded with a score less than 9 and greater than 6, then send them to Step 3.

  • If the customer responded with a score greater than 9, then send them to Step 4.

Note: You can add multiple expressions (e.g. greater than 6, and less than 9) to a single rule and branch to any subsequent step in the survey.

If multiple rules are added that are not mutually exclusive, then the first rule you added will always be used. For example, if a customer scores 0 - 6, then both of the paths shown below would be legitimate and the customer would follow the path given in the first rule:

Note:

  • It’s not possible to branch to and from questions that are part of the same step in a survey.

  • It’s not possible to branch based on anything other than the responses contained within the survey (e.g. you can’t branch based on a user or company attribute).

  • Currently a survey can have up to 12 question steps and up to 3 thank you steps.

Using response data for branching logic

The types of expressions you can specify (e.g. greater than 6, and less than 9, etc.) depends on the way the question response is stored. Use the chart below to see how response data will be stored based on your question type:

Question type

Response stored as

Example expression

NPS® and Numeric Rating Scales

Number

How likely are you to recommend us to family and friends? is less than 7

Star Rating Scale

Number

This maps to the number represented by the star e.g.

1 star = ‘1’

3 stars = ‘3’.

What did you think of the webinar? is greater than 4

Emoji Rating Scale

Number

This maps to the position in the sequence that the emoji appears. More details here.

How satisfied with our new feature? is less than 3

Dropdown and Multiple Choice

Text string

What department do you work in? Contains ‘Sales’

Storing multi-select multiple choice responses

When a user selects more than one answer from a multiple choice question, their answers will be stored as comma separated values on the attribute. As with all other question types. If the character length exceeds 255 characters (the attribute character limit), the answer will be truncated on the attribute. You can see the full answer in the survey report.


Storing emoji rating responses

Emojis are stored to number attributes as a numeric value. The number will depend on the scale used as shown in the tables below:

5 point emoji scale

Emoji

😠

🙁

😑

😄

🤩

Stored as

1

2

3

4

5

3 point emoji scale

Emoji

🙁

😑

😄

Stored as

1

2

3

Test branching logic

Once you’ve finished adding the branching logic to your survey steps, it’s a good idea to test the experience before sending it to customers.

The easiest way to test it out is to trigger the survey from a Shareable URL. This allows you to take the survey as many times as you’d like. Note that any time you want to restart the survey, you’ll need to copy the link into a new browser tab (refreshing the existing tab won’t work).

Share your survey

When you’re happy with how the branching logic works, you can share your survey in the following ways:

Reporting

Each question will have its own response data recorded, so you’ll be able to find the same reporting available that you use for other surveys. Find out more about using advanced survey reports in Intercom.

"Net Promoter®, NPS®, NPS Prism®, and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld. Net Promoter Score℠ and Net Promoter System℠ are service marks of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld."


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