Gauging a customer’s overall satisfaction with your services and products can help you optimize for a better customer experience and better overall market performance. However, getting to know just what your customers think about your brand can be a tough task to take on.
Customer satisfaction surveys serve this purpose well, encouraging your client base to share with you their valuable thoughts and ideas freely. By understanding what drives customer satisfaction in the right direction and leveraging tools to translate data into actionable insights, you can quickly enhance your company’s position in the eyes of target consumers.
What is Customer Satisfaction?
In a nutshell, customer satisfaction is best seen as a spectrum with two opposite extremes. On one end is full satisfaction and on the other is utter dissatisfaction. All along this spectrum can be found varying shades of loyalty/appreciation for your brand and disloyalty/distrust towards it – all fueled by simple factors that constantly influence individuals’ perceptions of your services and products on the basis of their quality and overall value. These factors fit into the following camps:
Emotional factors at play in determining whether customers feel satisfied with your brand range from the dispositions of your service representatives to the availability of your products.
People are emotional buyers more often than not, but their personal reasons for choosing the products they do can and do vary considerably across locations, cultures, genders, and more.
Although emotion fuels most personal expenditures, pragmatism plays a pivotal role in people’s purchasing habits as well.
Price tends to be the most obvious element buyers take into consideration when weighing products and services. However, such aspects of your offerings as location, flexibility and general quality influence individuals’ decisions as well.
Below, you’ll find 25 expert tips and insights on formulating the best customer satisfaction surveys, including templates and example questions, plus tips for leveraging customer satisfaction surveys for the best results.
Templates and Examples of Customer Satisfaction Questions
1. Ask one-part questions for clearer results.
“[Avoid] asking two-part questions with only one response option.
“This question-writing mistake is as simple as it sounds. Take the following as an example:
“’Did you enjoy our service and our selection? Yes or no?’
“What if your service was impeccable but your selection was lacking? If there’s no way for the participant to answer this question accurately, you’re going to get skipped questions, or, perhaps even worse, inaccurate responses. Make sure you’re asking for one distinct answer per question.
“Going back to our example, you can break up the prompt as follows:
“’Did you enjoy our service?’
2. Different business processes deserve distinct surveys.
“Checkout Surveys – If you are in the hospitality or healthcare industry, it is important to get customer feedback before the customer leaves your premises. During the time of billing, they will be willing to share feedback as they will also have time while the billing process is being completed.
“Product Surveys – Products need periodical surveys to understand changing customer patterns and behaviors. We have seen many cases where this is not captured, and the product eventually ends up being not innovative enough for the newer generation of users.
“Customer Support Surveys – After support has been provided to customers, it is always better to send a follow-up message along with a short survey to make sure all the issues were resolved as per the customer’s expectations. This will make a big difference in improving customer satisfaction.
“Overall Satisfaction Surveys – Every company needs to periodically send general satisfaction surveys to its customers to understand customer sentiments. This will help organizations stay on top in this highly competitive business environment.” – Customer Satisfaction Survey (CSAT), FeedbacQ; Twitter: @FeedbacQ
3. Some questions work well before sales too.
“What problem would you like to solve with our product?
“This is a question that seeks information that usually cannot be gauged by analytics. Here you ask for the type of solution your Customers search for.
“This allows to focus on the strongest features of your product and helps to prioritize any future improvements that could be made.
“Hint: It’s great to ask this question even before finalizing the sale. It may be the case that your potential Customers are looking for something different than their chosen product is.
“If you have other products that would much better suit their needs, it’s great to navigate them towards them before it’s too late and they get disappointed with a product that was not designed for what they actually need.” – 16 (+4) Best Customer Satisfaction Survey Examples To Use, Survicate; Twitter: @survicate
4. Respect your customers with reasonable surveys.
I argued for three customer experience survey principles:
- Make your survey short;
- If you ask a question, use it;
- Never ask a question when a query will do.
“Best Buy’s previous survey had over 50 required questions, including more than a dozen on areas that had nothing to do with my customer experience (‘30: I cannot live without the Internet’). I was pleased to discover that their new survey improved on principles 2 and 3, focusing more tightly on my customer experience.
“But then I hit the ‘Please select the number 4 below’ question.
“This is a survey design trick to ensure respondents are paying attention. If the answer is not 4, you ignore their results. And it works. But why resort to tricking your customers in the first place?” – Jim Tincher, Best Buy’s new customer satisfaction survey shows no respect for customers, CustomerThink; Twitter: @customerthink
5. Shorter surveys used more frequently could be more effective for digital business models.
“Netflix is built on its customers’ preferences. After you watch a movie or a TV show, the service asks you to rate the product. Then, it collects the data and suggests similar content to its users according to their likes and dislikes or recently watched content. There are also numerous surveys about customer satisfaction where users can rate not only watched movies but also the interactions with Netflix itself.
“Some companies have two main customer groups, like Uber, which works with both taxi drivers and passengers. Therefore, it is important for them to analyze the satisfaction of these two parties. To collect their opinions and feedback, Uber uses a rating system. After every ride, both driver and passenger evaluate their experience.
“The collected data is visible not only to the company but also to other potential passengers and drivers. Both parties can decide whether they would like to accept the request from a certain user/driver when they have low rates.” – Megan Ranger, How Your Business Can Benefit From Using Customer Satisfaction Surveys, Nimble; Twitter: @nimble
6. Ask about your products, specifically.
“Finding out how satisfied your users are with your offer provides your marketing and product teams with valuable information that can be used to improve customer retention. Some questions that you could ask in this section are:
- How often do you use the product or service?
- Does the product help you achieve your goals?
- What is your favorite tool or portion of the product or service?
- What would you improve if you could?” – Ruchika Sharma, 16 Excellent Customer Satisfaction Survey Examples, HubSpot; Twitter: @Sh_ruchika, @HubSpot
7. Ask how your customer would rate their own satisfaction with specific aspects of their experience.
“CSAT surveys consist of a variation of the question: How would you rate your overall satisfaction with the products/service you received?
“Customers would then choose from the following 1 to 5 scale:
- Very unsatisfied
- Very satisfied
“Only customers who choose ‘Satisfied’ or ‘Very Satisfied’ are considered satisfied customers. To calculate your business’ CSAT score, take your number of satisfied customers and divide by the total number of survey respondents, then multiply by 100. Therefore, if you have 100 survey respondents and 70 of them responded ‘Satisfied’ or ‘Very Satisfied,’ your CSAT score would be 70%.” – Meaghan Brophy, 5 Types of Customer Satisfaction Surveys + Free Templates, FitSmallBusiness; Twitter: @FitSmallBiz
8. Consider focusing questions around customer service.
“The following questions can help you assess customer service competency:
- Are you satisfied with how your agent handled your inquiry?
- Did your agent resolve your issue competently?
- Was your solution/answer delivered in a timely manner?
- How many agents assisted you today?
- Did your agent communicate in a clear manner?
- Did you feel confident in your agent’s ability to help you?
- Overall, did you feel that your agent was knowledgeable about the company/product/policies?
- Was your agent professional and courteous?
- Did your agent make you feel like a valued customer?” – Carla Jerez, 31 Questions to Help You Craft the Perfect Customer Satisfaction Survey, Comm100; Twitter: @comm100
9. Vet product and service features with specific questions.
“Questions about the actual product (and how it’s delivered or warrantied) can provide a company with knowledge about which features are most valuable to their customers, which could use improvement and if their product is meeting expectations.
- On a scale of 1-10, how well does our product meet your needs?
- What product features are the most valuable to you?
- Are there any features that we’re missing?
- If you could solve one problem with our product, what would it be?
- On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the value of our product for the money spent?
- Which of the following words would you use to describe our product?” – Yaniv Masjedi, 60+ Customer Satisfaction Survey Questions You Can Borrow, Nextiva; Twitter: @Nextiva
10. Try demographic questions to help define buyer personas.
“[…]Demographic questions are simple enough to help ease the customer into the survey.
“Using the answers gathered from these questions, you can better tailor your product/service, the messaging associated with it, and your overall marketing strategy. In addition, it’s a helpful tool for the marketing and sales teams who build personas and create strategies around audience behaviours.
“Here we share some of the most basic customer demographic questions:
- Where are you from?
- What establishment do you visit most often?
- What is your age?” – 16 Exceptional Examples of a Customer Satisfaction Survey, Benbria; Twitter: @benbria
Expert Tips for Leveraging Customer Satisfaction Surveys
11. Ask questions that matter to your customers.
“Customers fill out surveys in the hope that their voices will be heard and will result in a tangible change — whether as resolution to a specific problem or improvements to future interactions. If none of the survey’s questions address the parts of their experience they care about most, they’ll be more likely to give unhelpful answers — or to give up entirely.
“In these situations, honing in on what is most important to customers takes real work. You’ll have to speak with people in your organization who deal with customers regularly and understand their concerns. You’ll also have to search existing customer data for answers — and perhaps even revise your vision of the journeys customers take with your business.” – Writing Better Customer Satisfaction Surveys, Medallia; Twitter: @Medallia
12. Consider the cause behind low satisfaction.
“If you want to know how well you’re serving your customers, the best way to start is by asking them if they’re satisfied with your service. Frequent use of customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys will capture your customers’ feelings at particular moments in time and apply a score to them.
“CSAT scores can be viewed by individual customer, customer type and by channel – are people that call more or less satisfied than those that use live chat, and vice versa. CSAT should also help you to see if it’s a particular product or service that’s causing scores to rise or fall. If only a certain type of customer is less than satisfied, it could be because of what your company is offering them rather than how well it’s resolving issues.” – 5 Customer Satisfaction Metrics That Matter, Sitel Group; Twitter: @Sitel_WorldWide
13. Think beyond the survey itself.
“Surveys provide the reading that shows where attention is required, but in many respects, this is the easy part. Very often, major long-lasting improvements need a fundamental transformation in the company, probably involving training of the staff, possibly involving cultural change. The result should be financially beneficial with less customer churn, higher market shares, premium prices, stronger brands and reputation, and happier staff. However, there is a price to pay for these improvements. Costs will be incurred in the market research survey. Time will be spent working out an action plan. Training may well be required to improve the customer service. The implications of customer satisfaction studies go far beyond the survey itself and will only be successful if fully supported by the echelons of senior management.” – Paul Hague and Nick Hague, Customer Satisfaction Surveys & Research: How to Measure CSAT, B2BInternational
14. You can collect open feedback too.
“Depending on what customer metrics you intend to use, it will determine what type of survey questions you need to ask your customers. Below are a few best practices:
- Ask for overall company rating first – This satisfaction survey question gives you great initial insight and allows you to compare to industry and internal benchmarks over time.
- Allow for open text feedback – Open text questions allow you to collect open-ended responses from your respondents. You can gain more detail about your customer’s experiences and you might uncover new insights you didn’t expect.
- Optimize for mobile – Many consumers are now completing surveys on mobile devices or within mobile apps, so your survey must be optimized for mobile devices. If it is too complicated for a mobile respondent, survey participation will decrease.” – Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Surveys: Examples, Definition & Template, Qualtrics; Twitter: @Qualtrics
15. Focus on a single goal for your survey.
“Customer satisfaction, which is integral to CX, is a big deal. Thus, you need to work out what your CX goals are before you do anything.
“Your survey should have ONE goal.
“Common customer satisfaction survey goals include:
- Reducing churn
- Reducing cart abandonment
- Improving brand loyalty, products, UX, customer service, etc.
“Once you have established your goal, you know the direction your question(s) should take.
“You can also keep the number of questions to a minimum because you have a specific purpose in mind.
“Moreover, you know which customers to target with your survey. Monitor customer satisfaction at different stages of the buyer’s journey.” – Emil Kristensen, Customer Satisfaction Surveys: Here’s Everything You Need to Know, Sleeknote; Twitter: @Sleeknotecom
16. Keep your survey simple and vary question formats for best results.
“Once you have selected your survey tool, it’s time to prepare the questions. To start, don’t make the survey too long or complicated. If you do that, people will not complete it. The maximum number of questions should be 20 or, preferably, less. You will also want to mix up the “type” of questions you ask, i.e., yes/no, rate on a scale, multiple choice, open-ended, etc. Mixing up the types of questions keeps the survey interesting. Most of the online tools give you numerous templates you can use to design your questions. Your survey should not take more than 15-20 minutes to complete.” – Sterling Miller, Creating a customer satisfaction survey, Thomson Reuters; Twitter: @westlaw
17. Don’t bombard customers with questions.
“We’ve all been hit with an extensive series of questions before: ‘How did you find on our site? Do you understand what our product does? Why or why not?’
“It can begin to feel like you’re being interrogated by someone who won’t let you finish your sentences. If you want quality responses, you need to give people time to think through each individual question.
“Bombarding people with multiple points to consider leads to half-hearted answers by respondents who will just be looking to get through to the end — if they even stay with the survey at all. Make things easy by sticking to one main point at a time.” – 10 Essential Tactics for Creating Valuable Customer Surveys, HelpScout; Twitter: @helpscout
18. Respond to strong feedback personally when possible.
“Be sure to respond personally and promptly after receiving strongly negative feedback. And don’t set a batch of surveys aside for later en masse response without scanning them in a more timely manner for negative responses that require immediate replies.
“Be sure to thank anyone who offers personal praise on a survey. A handwritten note is a wonderful way to accomplish this if you have the customer’s physical address. An email is also fine, as long as it’s clearly from a real person and not boilerplate.” – Micah Solomon, 13 Best Practices For Designing Customer Satisfaction Surveys (CSAT), Forbes; Twitter: @micahsolomon, @Forbes
19. Avoid surveying the same people too often.
“Surveys can be done on a regular basis, even once a week, but it is important not to survey any one customer more than once or twice a year. Otherwise, they get tired and possibly annoyed.
“’Research shows that if you survey the same customers too often, you start to get higher quit rates, as well as clients who ask to be removed from your survey list, and these are lost forever,’ Simard says.” – 5 tips to create effective customer satisfaction surveys, bdc; Twitter: @bdc_ca
20. Implement your surveys online.
“Make life easier for everyone involved and release your feedback survey online. Your customers can follow a link from your web page or in an email and answer with just a few clicks. What’s more, the collection and processing of data will be far simpler for you. Don’t forget to streamline your site for mobile surfers too.” – How to improve customer feedback – five top tips for getting helpful comments from customers, Netigate; Linkedin: @netigate
21. Encourage more detailed feedback.
“While it is important for you to respect your customers’ time by keeping surveys brief it is also important to write survey questions that encourage customers to give valuable feedback.
“Surveys that only use questions with number ratings (quantitative questions) are tempting because they require your customers to spend less time on their feedback, but responses to open-ended survey questions (qualitative questions) are almost as important as the quantitative numerical responses. Responses to open-ended survey questions are the key to understanding what additional quantitative survey questions should be included on your next survey.” – Dr. Jan West, 5 Tips for an Effective Customer Survey, National Business Research Institute Inc.; Twitter: @nbri
22. Consider the type of satisfaction you are gauging.
“According to an eSurveyspro article, there are two types of satisfaction to measure: transactional and image-based. The first is defined as any interaction the customer has with your company, whether that be with a field rep or with the product itself. The latter is the customer’s overall opinion of the company based on transactions, their assessment of competitors, and what friends have said about the company. It is better to separate the two types in surveys because putting them in the same survey forces the customer to reflect in two different ways. For example, a transactional prompt could be ‘Rate product x on a scale from 1-10.’ While an image-based question could be ‘What values do you associate with company x?’” – Erin P. Friar, 3 Tips for Successful Customer Satisfaction Surveys, Repsly; Twitter: @Repsly
23. Craft a compelling invitation for your customers.
“The invitation could be through an email or a letter. It should be personalized for the client. Start with a warm greeting and thank the customer for using your service. After that, tell them the purpose of the survey. Go further and give intricate details such as the duration of the survey. You can give them an incentive for participating in the survey. Close the invitation by thanking the customer.” – Customer Satisfaction Surveys Tips For Small Businesses, YoungUpstarts; Twitter: @YoungUpstarts
24. Try surveying outside of your own client base when possible.
“Gallella surveys nearly everyone who makes contact with Custom Design & Construction, even if the potential customer doesn’t hire her company.
“Homeowners who attend the remodeler’s seminars or meet with a designer but do not hire the firm get a five-question survey asking for feedback on the speakers and whether they intend to hire another company. ‘That’s a more interesting group to survey,’ Gallella says. ‘We get to see what their impression is of our design team and our business; to get an idea of whether they understand the difference between design/build and an architect or just someone working out of their truck.’” – Sharon O’Malley, 9 Tips for Customer-Satisfaction Survey Success, ProRemodeler; Twitter: @ProRemodelMag
25. Consider survey results alongside customer spending for better insights.
“Demonstrating the link between research and commercial performance is a critical — but too often overlooked or failed — ambition. Yet B2B customer satisfaction surveys should do just that. By linking actual spend data on customers to their survey results, definitive links can be drawn between satisfaction levels and spend, providing clear evidence on the most important areas for prioritisation in the business.” – Graeme Cade, 4 Tips for Perfecting B2B Customer Satisfaction Research, MarketResearch; Twitter: @MarketResearch_
How does your business leverage customer satisfaction surveys?