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Customer experience translates directly into your company’s success or failure. According to a recent study conducted by Propel Software, for 54% of customers, one bad experience is enough to stop purchasing from a brand.

I’m sure you understand the value of satisfied customers. However, how can you know whether customers are truly satisfied with your customer support, your product, or even your onboarding process? In many cases, you need to ask them directly, which is where customer feedback surveys play a key role.

When you ask the right questions, using the right feedback management tools, you can dig deeper into customer needs and understand what matters to your customers when it comes to your brand.

Why should you do customer satisfaction surveys?

Asking what people think about your brand and your product/service is immensely important. The majority of people won’t tell you that they are not satisfied with the product or service provided—they will just quietly cut off their business with you. And once you realize something’s wrong, it’s already too late to engage with those customers again.

With appropriate feedback surveys, you can get the information you need to keep your customers satisfied. As a result, you can reduce customer churn and increase customer loyalty.

Gathering customer feedback is possible in two specific ways:

  1. Active feedback: Here, the customers are fully aware they are participating in some sort of satisfaction survey. All questionnaires, interviews, and focus groups fall into this category.
  2. Passive feedback: This happens when the customer expresses their opinion about the brand/product completely of their own volition. We're talking about online reviews, comments, social media posts, and even conversations with customer service that aren't about gathering feedback.

In order to get the best results, you need to make the most of both forms of customer feedback. However, before you do, there are several rules you need to keep in mind to make your work useful and effective.

Customer satisfaction survey best practices

So you decided to ask customers whether they are satisfied with your brand or product. That’s fantastic! It’s a good start to build more meaningful relationships with your target audiences and keep them involved for a longer period of time. Here’s what you should keep in mind:

  • Keep it short and sweet: Trust me, you don’t want to ask hundreds of questions. This will only irritate your customers and give them one more reason to look for alternatives to your products/services. A perfect customer satisfaction survey should be completable within two or three minutes.
  • Ask the right questions: A good customer survey is a mix of open-ended questions, single and multiple-choice questions, and scale questions (typically from 1 to 5). Make sure every question in your questionnaire has some kind of practical value—don’t ask questions just for the sake of asking them. Later in this article, I'll share 20 examples of great customer survey satisfaction questions to show you what I mean.
  • Use the right tool: There are several ways of measuring customer satisfaction, which I will dissect in a moment. Analyze available tools and pick the one that will be the most convenient for your customers. This way, you will get more replies, and that’s the ultimate goal.
  • Offer something in return: Remember, it’s YOUR goal to collect feedback. If you want to get really good results, you should offer some incentive for filling out and submitting the survey. It shouldn’t be anything complicated or expensive. For instance, Starbucks generates a code after the completion of their customer survey that is redeemable for a free tall beverage. This way, respondents feel they haven't wasted their time, leading to higher response rates.
  • Opt for an online survey: Sure, if you run brick-and-mortar stores, you can conduct offline surveys directly in your stores. But in 2023, a digital survey is definitely the most convenient way to share and collect feedback. You can distribute it using your newsletter, social media profiles, or even QR codes located by the counter. The point is online surveys can be done at any time, so you’re not forcing your customers to spend more time in the store. They can send the survey later from the comfort of their home. The results of digital surveys are also much easier to gather and interpret.
  • Be regular: A one-time customer survey is not enough. In order to grasp the whole picture, you need to measure trends in the way people think about your brand. This means conducting at least three or four surveys a year, or ideally, running your surveys continuously. Using reliable polling software can help in scheduling and automating your survey distribution so you'll receive continuous insights.
  • Use a small scale: In most cases, using a small scale (1-5 instead of 1-10) is enough to get accurate results.

Major types of customer surveys

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

NPS is a customer survey that asks one question: "How likely are you to recommend our company to a friend or colleague?" The answer is based on a 1 to 10 scale. When it comes to the NPS survey, depending on their answers, customers are grouped into one of three categories:

  • Detractors (score of 0-6) - These customers are rather not satisfied with your brand. If you receive such results, it's important to analyze what may be causing this dissatisfaction.
  • Passives (score of 7-8) - These customers are neutral about your company. Their feedback indicates that there is nothing particularly wrong with your customer service, but there is also some room for improvement. Work towards better customer service, and you will get more loyal customers.
  • Promoters (score of 9-10) - This is the result you want to see. These customers are really satisfied with your company. Promoters are more likely to recommend your brand and products to their friends and family.

Now, in order to calculate your Net Promoter Score, you need to subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters (passives are excluded from the calculation). The resulting score can range from -100 (if all customers are detractors) to +100 (if all customers are promoters). For example, if you received 100 survey responses and 30% of customers are detractors, 10% are passives, and 60% are promoters, your NPS score would be calculated as 60% - 30% = 30.

A higher NPS score indicates better customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Additionally, you can also ask a follow-up question to understand why they answered in a given way.

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

CSAT is a survey that aims at understanding whether customers are satisfied with the service they receive from your company. There are three answers to choose from:

  • Satisfied
  • Neutral
  • Dissatisfied

Some surveys offer two more answers (very dissatisfied, very satisfied), but in my opinion, they are not necessary.

Here’s how to calculate the CSAT score: Divide the number of satisfied customers by the whole number of received surveys and multiply the result times 100. So, for instance, if you have 50 answers and 20 of them are positive, your CSAT is 40%. Again—the higher the result, the better.

Customer Effort Score (CES)

This survey measures how easy it was for your customers to complete a specific action. CES was designed to find out how intuitive and user-friendly your processes are. Typically, CES asks one question: "How easy was it for you to resolve your issue today?" Customers rate their experience on a scale of one to seven, where one means very difficult and seven means very easy.

How can you measure CES? Simply divide the number of people who answered five, six, or seven by the total number of people who took part in the survey.

Product-Market Fit (PMF)

The last survey concentrates on the product itself. A PMF survey helps you understand whether your product checks all the right boxes. As always, this survey is also based on just one question: “How would you feel if you could no longer use our product?” Respondents then rate how disappointed (or not) they would feel.

To calculate PMF, you need to focus exclusively on the first answer. If more than 40% of customers would be very disappointed because of losing your product, you have a good product-market fit. If people wouldn’t miss it, there surely is something wrong with the product.

Of course, I’m not saying here that you should limit yourself to just these four types of surveys. They are useful because they give you an overall view of what people think about your brand. However, more often than not, you need to dig deeper to get more insights. Let’s have a look at what kind of questions you can ask in your surveys.

Related read: Best Free Survey Tools for Collecting Feedback

Customer satisfaction survey question types

  • Open-ended questions: The goal of these customer survey questions is to let users talk about their interactions with your brand in their own words. For example, you could as this question, “What’s your overall experience with our brand?” Leave your customers space to write several sentences, but don’t set a minimum limit of words. Some people will write a whole essay, while others will share just a few words. Both can be useful.
  • Likert scale questions: These questions measure either positive or negative responses to a specific statement, just like in the CES survey. The goal is to understand what people think about a specific aspect of your customer service, e.g., the shipping process or the ease of use of your mobile app.
  • Rating scale questions: See NPS and CSAT above—you provide a question and ask people to rate their experience on a sliding scale. You can use scale questions to ask about product features, e.g., ease of use, reliability, design, or functionality. In my opinion, rating scale questions are perfect for spotting trends and analyzing data with ease.
  • Single/multiple-choice questions: They ask a question and provide a set of possible answers. Sometimes, there’s also one additional answer (e.g., “other”) with the option to write down a different answer. Single and multiple-choice questions are good primarily because they are quick; people don’t need to think about what the answer should be.

And what about demographic questions? They can be useful sometimes, especially when comparing user experiences in different cities, regions, or countries. But be careful and don't ask unnecessary questions. For instance, more often than not, asking about marital status doesn't have much to do with the brand. Don't collect data you don't really need, especially when it comes to sensitive information.

Before I get to specific questions you can ask, I wanted to talk for a moment about passive customer feedback—namely, social listening.

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Social listening and sentiment analysis

Social listening is a discipline that’s all about monitoring online sources in order to look for mentions of your brand or other brand-related keywords. Social listening tools monitor millions of sources, including social media, internet forums, online articles, and their comments, and they collect all the mentions that comprise a specific keyword.

If you use a social listening platform, you can easily check what people are saying about your brand, almost in real-time. But social listening tools are not only about collecting these mentions. They also offer a feature known as sentiment analysis. With sentiment analysis, you can understand what emotions are involved when it comes to your brand or product. Sentiment analysis uses AI-related algorithms, especially NLP (natural language processing) or NLU (natural language understanding), to assess the tone, intent, and emotion behind each mention.

As a result, you can quickly estimate whether people are happy or not with your brand or the products you offer.

According to a recent study (conducted by The Social Intelligence Lab), social listening is immensely helpful for companies using this tool. They use it for almost everything from understanding attitudes and opinions to detecting consumer trends and gathering customer insights:

In many instances, social listening is this second pillar that enables you to get the full picture of how your brand is perceived in the market. How so? People write comments and share their opinions in different circumstances and even moods. Sometimes, they will share more in a social media comment than in an “official” market survey, especially if something happened recently and they still have a fresh memory of it.

Read more about sentiment analysis on our blog.

Now that you know what kind of surveys and questions you can use and what the good practices related to customer surveys are, let’s have a look at some of the best questions you can ask.

19 Customer satisfaction survey Question examples

Here are some great examples of questions you can copy and paste directly into your next customer satisfaction survey.

Survey questions about satisfaction with the brand & product

How many of our products do you own?

This question comes in handy when you offer products in the same niche, e.g., household appliances. If a customer has a dishwasher, a dryer, and a blender made by the same company, it’s a clear indication they are satisfied with these products and can say a lot about them.

What products/services would you like to see from us?

Introducing new products is vital to every growing company. Why not ask your customers for ideas?

Would you buy this product again?

This can be a tricky question, but, on the other hand, it gives you straightforward information on how good your product actually is. Many product comparison websites use this question when collecting customer reviews.

Where did you purchase our product?

If you operate in the omnichannel model, this question is a must. It helps you understand what sales channels are most popular among your customers. You can also ask a follow-up question about desired places to purchase/view the product.

How did you find out about our brand/product?

This question helps you assess how effective your marketing strategy is and what marketing channels you should focus on.

Survey questions about product usage

What is your favorite feature of our product/service?

This question will help you understand what customers like about your product. With this knowledge, you can concentrate on these features when improving your product or introducing new versions of it.

What are some important features that you’d like our product to have?

No product is perfect. Understanding what your products are lacking is essential to making them better in the future. Don’t be afraid to ask this question; treat it as an opportunity to make your product even better.

Does our product help you achieve your goals?

This is an example of a product-market fit question. You want your product to be purposeful, so you need to know whether it’s good at doing its job. After all, what good is a nice-looking vacuum cleaner with terrible suction?

How likely are you to recommend the product to a friend or colleague?

That’s a typical NPS question. If people are willing to recommend your products, it’s a clear indication they are very satisfied with them.

Please describe what you like and dislike about the product.

Lastly, you can ask an open question so that your customers can share all of their thoughts, ideas, and suggestions concerning your product.

Survey questions about demographics & psychographics

Where do you live?

If you operate in a specific country or region, you can simply offer a single-choice selection of possible answers. If your company operates internationally, you can limit answers to continents or provide an open-ended question so that every customer can describe their location. However, here, it is crucial to specify what kind of answer you expect (i.e. country, state, city, district, etc).

What is your gender?

This is only a good question if it really matters, and if it doesn't matter I'd suggest leaving it off your survey. However, if you're convinced this is important information, please make it both optional and inclusive. Providing the options "Male," "Female," "Non-binary," and Other (with a box for respondents to indicate their gender if desired) is a solid best practice.

How old are you?

For the sake of data analysis, include several age range options with logical cohorts. For example, "18-30" is too broad and "28-30" is too narrow—this question is really asking people what season of life they're in. This data point is very useful for building marketing campaigns that resonate with the right audience.

What is your annual household income?

Spending habits are usually tied to income. Understanding the relationship between these two datasets can help you understand which of your customers are more likely to buy more products (or more expensive ones).

How many years of experience do you have in your industry?

This is more relevant for B2B products. If you're selling software, for example, it's crucial to understand who your users are to understand the pain points your product needs to resolve. Some other versions of this question might ask about the industry the customer works in, their position in the org chart, or a multiple choice of which job title 'best' reflects their own.

Survey questions about customer service & longevity

How would you rate the quality of our customer service?

For this question, I'd suggest using a simple scale (just like with the CSAT survey) and providing an optional comment box in case folks want to add some context.

Was the customer service agent knowledgeable?

This question comes in handy in IT companies. A lot of customer service representatives aren't knowledgeable about the product, especially if they work for many companies. This question is helpful for assessing your agents' perceived depth of knowledge, especially if you have decided to outsource them.

Before connecting with a customer rep, did you try to use other channels?

This question is interesting as it gives you a lot of information on whether your customers know other communication channels and know how to use them. If you’ve recently introduced a chatbot, and people don’t really use it, it’s probably a sign that you should increase the visibility of this channel.

Are you happy with our pricing/shipping/payment options?

This question is very specific and enables you to get specific answers. I’ve included three examples, but you can use this question to ask about pretty much anything related to your brand or offer. A text box is ideal for this question so that your respondents can share their suggestions.

Never stop working on customer retention!

Building trust and loyalty with your customer base is always time well spent. Consider using enterprise survey software that allows you to conduct different types of surveys efficiently, and helps you analyze the results to enhance your customer satisfaction. Or, if your budget is limited, even a free poll maker can help you gather valuable feedback in a pinch.

If you want to take your customer service to a whole new level, make sure to check back here every week. We're all about publishing useful, real-life experiences and tips to help you make your company more customer-centric.

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By Hannah Clark

Hannah Clark is the Editor of The CX Lead. After serving over 12 years working in front-line customer experience for major brands, Hannah pivoted to a career in digital publishing and media production. Having gained a holistic view of the challenges and intricacies of delivering exceptional experiences, Hannah aims to help CX practitioners 'level up' their skills by amplifying the voices of today's thought leaders in the space.