You can’t help but tip your hat to the folks who stand on street corners with clipboards and pens, ready to bombard you with their survey or petition.
“Can I ask you a couple of questions about climate change? The presidential election? The red panda of southwestern China?”
And let’s be honest, most of us find a way to dodge these street-corner do-gooders, feigning an excuse of being in a hurry so as to not have to be asked inane questions about things we may or may not really care about.
If you’ve ever had to create a customer satisfaction survey, you’ll find that these street-side surveys actually have a lot to teach us.
In this article, we outline a couple of things to consider when making a customer satisfaction survey:
- A quick breakdown of customer satisfaction surveys
- 8 qualities a great customer satisfaction survey question should have
- 12 basic customer service satisfaction survey questions
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A quick breakdown of customer satisfaction surveys
First of all, a customer satisfaction survey should speak to your customers’ needs and desires. After all, it’s about their satisfaction, and your bias should never play a part in that.
The best way to find out anything is to go to the source, and when it comes to customer satisfaction, the source is always the customer. Asking for a customer’s honest opinion about how satisfied they are with your product or service can seem daunting—but it’s also the best way to improve on what’s not working and find out what your customers really love.
Customer surveys are often one of the easiest and most efficient ways to measure literally how satisfied your customers are with you, sure. But in order to create a truly great survey that efficiently gets to the heart of your customer’s opinions? That takes a decent amount of forethought and planning.
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Remember, a happy customer is more likely to tell their friends about your company, and great referrals can quickly become the lifeblood of any company. Catering a satisfaction survey to your customers so that they feel heard is an effective (and fairly easy) way of building customer relationships through open and honest communication. You may even earn some new customers as a result!
8 qualities of good satisfaction survey questions
Think about the surveys you’ve taken in the past after buying something. What are the things that make you feel heard and understood—and what kinds of questions seemed to be there just to serve the company you had purchased from?
It’s easy to become frustrated when you’re taking a survey. We’ve all had the experience of filling out surveys that are too vague and too long.
So what makes a “great survey”—if there even is such a thing?
Well, here are eight qualities that, in our humble opinion, a great satisfaction survey question should have:
1. It allows your customers’ opinions to be heard
Allow your customers to give details that they may want to include while specifying in your question what part of their experience you want to hear about. Open-ended questions are a great way to hear your customers’ opinion in their own words. Here’s an example:
How can we improve your experience with our company?
2. It identifies product and/or company issues that need to be resolved
Your company isn’t perfect—which company is?—so why not have your customer tell you exactly what you can do to make them want to come back again and again?
The most straightforward way to improve your customer experience is by looking critically at the things your customers complain about. When you address these specific customer expectations, it proves to your customers that you’re listening—and paves the way to stronger customer relationships that lead to brand loyalty (which is what practically every company strives for).
Here’s a simple example of a product-centric survey question:
How would you rate your experience with our product? Why?
Want to score better on satisfaction surveys? Here are some customer service tips that’ll help.
3. It considers your buyer persona
What are the demographics of your customer base? If you have a good understanding of the types of people or businesses who are your best customers (hint: use your buyer or user persona), then you’ll have a better idea of how to speak directly to them in your day-to-day communication with them.
Asking these questions aren’t just a customer service best practice, it can also help lead your marketing and sales team to understanding how to best target that demographic, which will both lead to more sales and also a better understanding of who your customers are (and more importantly, what they want).
Gathering demographic or psychographic data will also help you organize survey results into meaningful groups that help your sales and marketing teams detect patterns in different segments of your audience. Here are some questions on demographics that can help you know who your target audience is:
How old are you?
Where are you located?
What is your employment status?
Do you have a partner or any children?
4. It shows you care about your customer
Customers want to feel like you care about their needs—not just the money you make from them. Because hey, customer service is important beyond the point of purchase.
If you’re going to spend the time and money on surveying your customers, then take the time to make them feel heard. Don’t just ask them about how awesome they think you are.
After all, this isn’t called a satisfaction survey for no reason. Here are a couple of examples of questions that show you care about your customer’s experience, not just their praise:
On a scale of 1–10, how satisfied are you with our product?
Are there any things you would want us to improve for your experience in the future?
Learn more about customer service software that’ll help your business provide a better experience for your customers.
5. It focuses on specifics and doesn’t overwhelm your customer with unnecessary fluff.
What do you really want to know from your customer? Is it about their thoughts on your product, their experience with your customer support team, or your brand overall? Whatever it is you want to know, be specific and concise. If your goal is to get feedback for improving your product, don’t ask them questions about your brand or logo—leave that for another time. Know your goals, ask specific questions, and respect their time.
Overwhelming your customer with a 45-minute survey full of vague or repeated questions will only leave them feeling taxed and frustrated—basically, the opposite of what you’re going for.
Want to keep your customers around? Learn more about how to improve your customer retention.
6. It doesn’t lead or bias
This is one of the most common mistakes companies make when creating their satisfaction survey questions. Make sure your questions don’t assume anything for the customer or lead them toward a certain answer. (This will also taint the data you’re looking to gather, which won’t do your company any good.)
Be careful that your question doesn’t suggest a particular answer just to get a response you want. For example, here’s a biased question that assumes your on-hold wait times are short and breezy:
How short was your last wait on-hold when you called us?
You’ll get out of these surveys what you put into them—and you’ll probably receive customer feedback that’s both positive and negative. If you really care about your customer experience, getting an unbiased answer will ultimately be a good thing because hey, it might sting a little but in the long run, it’ll help you do better as a company.
7. It makes certain questions optional (but be sure you can risk not having those questions answered)
If there are questions that you would like answered but aren’t as necessary, make them optional. What’s the point of an optional question? This allows your customer to still feel heard, but not pressured to answer every single detailed question you have if they feel the question is not relevant to them. Even unanswered questions can be relevant to your data as you can see what demographics skip certain questions.
8. It has been tested out ahead of time
How do you know your customer satisfaction survey questions are good? You take the survey yourself to test it out. You ask your team to take it. You ask your mom to take it. You pull it apart to make sure it’s serving your customer and gathering the data you need to improve your product.
Basically, like any other product or service your company offers, you should take it out for a test drive to make sure it lives up to your standards (which we know are high).
12 basic customer service satisfaction survey questions
Questions about product-related pain points
1. What words would you use to describe our product?
Why is this a great question to ask? Because it gets right to the point about how your customer feels about your product. If you think your product is great but 30% of your client base describes it as “buggy” or “slow,” you know you have some work to do!
2. What would you likely use as an alternative to a product/service if it were no longer available
This is a great question because it helps you gather data on which of your competitors your customers might leave you for if your product or service no longer worked for them. If you know who else your customer has considered, you’ll have a better idea of how to create the better product.
3. What’s holding you back from using our product/service?
This is the easiest way to find out why customers are hesitant to sign on for the add-on, upgrade or new product you’re so excited to sell them. If you can’t see what’s holding them back from what you think could change their life, then you can’t empathize with them. And if you can’t empathize, then it’s really unlikely that you’ll understand your client base.
4. How could we improve our product or company to better meet customer needs?
This is a great open-ended question, giving the customer the chance to say, in their own words, what they love about your product—and what could use work. Most customers are happy to type up a quick response to this, but it might also be a good idea to make this question optional, just in case they don’t, at this time, have a response one way or another.
Either way, this question tells your customer that you care about their opinion and how you can improve your product to better serve their needs.
5. How happy are you overall with our product/service?
Make this a rated question (1–10 scale) or another scale that’s easily quantifiable. There’s no need to go into major detail here—you’re just attempting to see how happy your customer is with your product.
Other questions on the survey will usually point to why your customer rated their happiness the way they did, so if you receive a 7 out of 10, there’s a good chance that you’ll understand why you didn’t receive a 10 through other more specific questions in the survey. But this question should always be included as it’s a great baseline.
Questions about non-product-related pain points
6. What’s the biggest challenge you currently face in your role?
Maybe you’re speaking to the CEO of a new small business and you want to know how your services and/or products can help solve a problem for their daily life. This question cuts to the core of their issues, directly asking customers about a hurdle they are constantly encountering. If you see the same problem for many of your customers, you can start on solving it for them so that they can do their jobs with ease—something they couldn’t do without you before.
You might also want to ask follow-up questions that are industry-specific so that you can hone in on if their challenges are specific to their business or if it’s a problem that others in their industry also face.
Customer effort/support questions
7. How easy was it to navigate our website?
If your customer can’t figure out your website and find what they’re looking for easily, they’re going to find that information somewhere else (and yes, it could be your competitor).
This question can be a great opener to finding out if your website, aka your online headquarters, is navigable. If you’re finding that it’s not, then you can create questions that dig deeper to find out exactly where customers are getting lost.
8. To what extent did we help you in resolving your issue?
This question is great to have a sliding scale as a response. You can either put a numerical score, 1 being the lowest and 10 the highest, or you can have answers that reflect the scale in which your customer agrees with the statement (i.e., strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree).
Either way, you’ll be able to learn the temperature of how your customer feels about how you solve issues for them.
9. How else can we improve your overall experience with us?
This could answer a wide range of questions, so try tailoring this question to what you are needing it to answer. This could be tailored to be effort-focused or product-focused, so make sure your answer key reflects this so that your customer knows exactly the “experience” you are asking about.
While this is a broad customer engagement question, it’s still a good question because it’s highly customizable.
10. What should we do to wow you?
Great as an open-ended question, or if you’re looking for a specific answer (perhaps for an aspect of your product/service), then you can get answers that will give you specific data.
This question makes the customer feel like you care about excellence as a company. You don’t just want to cover their needs—you want to go above and beyond. This question will help you find out how you can become invaluable to your customers so that they will stay loyal to you time and time again.
11. How likely are you to recommend this product/service to a friend?
Recommendations are the backbone of most companies, whether we want to admit it or not. Even highly successful companies like Amazon continue to show the reviews that customers make on products and most customers (ahem, 83% of them1) need a word-of-mouth recommendation before making a purchase. That number is hard to ignore. So the fact is, if you can get your customers to tell you that they’d recommend your product to a friend, they probably really will. (Or already have!)
12. Do you have anything else to add? Please be 100% honest; we love feedback!
The ultimate open-ended question, this question is great to end your survey with. You’ve asked the specific questions, but this question will help cover bases that perhaps you don’t even know need covering.
If your customer is happy with your service or product, they can include that, but if there’s anything they think should or could be changed, this is their chance to air their grievances. Leave no stone unturned and allow your customer to know how much you want and need their feedback.
Now, on to planning your satisfaction survey questions!
Remember it’s best to know what your goals are when creating a customer satisfaction survey. If you’re asking about a customer’s overall satisfaction about a product, don’t throw in questions about their site experience. That question is for a different survey and a different experience.
The best way to please your customer? Let them know you care about how things are working for them. Work backwards from answers you’re trying to uncover in order to find the best questions.
Tailor those questions to specific areas of your company (such as site navigation or product usage, but not both) and you’ll end up with thoughtful data from customers who feel seen and will want to work with you again.
Originally published Apr 01, 2020, updated Feb 26, 2021