Feedback from your customers can be a treasure trove of helpful information. It may help you uncover demand for new products or services, for example. It could also shed light on recurring complaints or perhaps even confirm the need for additional features.
A customer satisfaction survey is the easiest way to gauge how your customers are feeling about your business. That could mean rating the customer support they have received, describing how they feel about your products and services, or sharing their experiences of your brand.
If you already know how to ask for reviews and get reviews on a regular basis – perhaps as a result of using a review management software – you’re in a great position to begin sending out customer satisfaction surveys. Don’t worry if you are new to this type of feedback though as we’ll be sharing plenty of good customer survey examples and useful tips throughout this article.
What is a customer satisfaction survey?
To put it simply, a customer satisfaction survey is a questionnaire that you ask your customers (both past and present) to complete. Sometimes also known as a customer feedback form, the survey guides customers through a series of questions about their experiences with your business. These questions give your customers an opportunity to tell you more about their overall experience.
As well as sharing how they feel about your business, it’s also a chance for customers to express what they particularly appreciate, what they would like to see more or less of, and what causes frustration or disappointment.
How does a customer survey differ from a review?
It should be noted that a customer satisfaction survey is different from a consumer review. Although some review platforms may ask a consumer to rate a few specific aspects of your service (such as the cleanliness of the hotel room or overall value for money), a consumer review is a broader, freeform comment.
The consumer won’t be prompted to reply to carefully considered questions about a range of business aspects when writing an online review. They’ll simply leave a short comment, often with a star rating, which sums up their experience publicly for others to see.
By contrast, a customer satisfaction survey guides the consumer through a set of very specific questions. Often you’ll have a specific goal in mind with a customer survey, where you want to address a particular issue or get feedback around a service or product.
Customer service survey question examples could include things like ‘how likely are you to shop with us again?’, ‘Did we resolve your complaint within an acceptable timeframe?’ and ‘What can we do better’?. These are questions that you wouldn’t expect to be addressed by a consumer asked to leave an online review.
What’s more, this type of feedback is intended to be used internally, rather than shared publicly on review sites. Rather than helping other consumers decide whether or not to use your business, survey responses help drive decision-making and improvements within the business itself.
Why Customer Surveys Are Useful For Local Businesses
There are no two ways about it: customer feedback is vital for local businesses. But, why?
If you’re already meeting your sales goals and have good client retention rates, you might think you have your niche cornered. You may think that as you’re already doing well, you don’t need customer survey questions to tell you what your customers are thinking.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Regularly gathering targeted feedback via satisfaction questionnaires gives you the data you need to make data-driven decision-making. The client input you receive through this process can guide your decisions so that they’re perfectly aligned with what your customers specifically want and need.
This feedback could be useful in product and service development – asking real customers what else you can do to support them, or what other features would be helpful to them means you’re better placed to deliver on that need. In doing so, you can set yourself apart from the competition and become the go-to in your local area.
Source: BrightLocal Academy Customer Survey
Being able to tap into authentic experiences across your business can also help pinpoint areas where change must be made. If feedback commonly cites frustration with slow customer service responses, for example, that’s an indicator that you need to revisit current processes or consider expanding the customer service team. While this may feel like criticism, in practice it gives you the opportunity to address pain points. In turn, that can help to reduce customer churn, increase retention, and deliver an even better experience to every customer.
Tips for Creating Customer Satisfaction Surveys
When approached correctly, satisfaction surveys can bring you closer to your customers, enhance product and service delivery, and fuel company growth.
You may be wondering what questions to ask in a customer survey so you can get started immediately. But before you do, read our following tips to get your strategy right before you hit that send button.
Have a Clear Objective
The best customer survey examples all have one thing in common: they are focused on a specific objective. Therefore, a clear idea of what you want to discover will help you ask the right questions. This means that the insight you gather will be useful and help you achieve your objective.
For example, if you would like to reduce customer churn, you could ask questions about what you could have done better. This will help you to pinpoint stumbling blocks for customers that you can address to boost retention rates.
Don’t Gather Unnecessary Data
Gathering unnecessary personal data can inhibit respondents. For example, they may feel they don’t want to share specific details due to privacy concerns. You also risk recipients being reluctant to share genuine opinions if the survey isn’t anonymous.
Certain questions may also overstep personal boundaries, such as asking about gender, salary, contact information, religious beliefs, etc. Audit your questionnaire and remove any request for identifying data or personal information that isn’t strictly necessary.
Source: BrightLocal Academy Customer Survey
Write an Introduction
Begin your questionnaire with a short introduction. Explaining the purpose of your survey upfront increases the likelihood of useful responses. If you do need to gather personal information, use the introduction to explain why you’re asking those questions and how you will handle that data.
Ask Specific Questions
Questions that are too vague or too open-ended will likely generate non-specific answers. To ensure feedback is valuable and gives you the insight you can work with, ask precise, specific questions.
‘What did you think of our service?’ might seem quite specific, but if we consider it a little further, it becomes clear that this question can be interpreted in several different ways. One person reading the question could understand that you’re asking for an overall opinion of their experience buying from you, including things such as shipping speed, quality of product, and value for money. Another may understand the question to be asking only about the customer service they received.
A better option would be to ask, ‘How would you rate the quality of this specific product?’ or ‘Did our customer services team resolve your query?’.
Ask Different Types of Questions
Having different types of questions will give you a much richer pool of feedback to learn from. The best customer survey examples use a mix of open-ended questions and those that can be answered with a yes/no response or a rating out of five.
The yes/no or star rating questions make it easy for you to see, based on an average of all responses, whether your customers are happy, what they enjoy, and what they don’t like.
If you were to ask your customers, ‘Would you recommend our dry cleaning service to a friend?’ simply counting up the number of yes versus no responses will allow you to conclude that ‘9 in 10 customers would recommend our service to a friend’.
Questions that allow the customer to provide more detailed responses give you deeper insight. For example, asking something like, ‘What did you most enjoy about our service?’ or, ‘is there anything we could do differently in the future?’ can prove useful. Here, you’re giving the recipient space to share their opinion. This is a good way to draw out suggestions and extra details that you may not have access to otherwise.
Allow Respondents to Skip Irrelevant Questions
Despite your best efforts, it could be that some questions aren’t relevant to every recipient. Allowing respondents to skip irrelevant questions can remove friction and reduce frustration. It also means you aren’t in danger of gathering inaccurate or untruthful responses simply because the recipient had to answer to move on to the next question.
A consistent rating scale system will make it easier for your recipients to share their opinions correctly. Giving satisfaction scales to grade responses is common in customer survey questions. A commonly used satisfaction scale is:
- Very satisfied
- Somewhat satisfied
- Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
- Somewhat dissatisfied
- Very dissatisfied
If you adopt this scale for your survey, ensure that the scale follows the same order each time and is presented in the same way. Changing the order of satisfaction levels could lead to the recipient choosing an incorrect scale by mistake.
Source: BrightLocal Academy Customer Survey
Don’t Make Your Questionnaire Too Long
It’s important to strike the right balance when writing your questionnaire. Too many questions, and your recipients are less likely to complete it. But conversely, asking too few questions won’t generate much helpful insight.
There’s no hard and fast rule when deciding how long your survey should be, but 60% of people say they won’t complete a questionnaire that requires more than 10 minutes of their time. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if a question is truly necessary. Don’t include it if it isn’t vital to achieving your primary objective.
There’s one more thing to keep in mind. Research suggests that respondents spend less time per question when the survey is long. This indicates that longer questionnaires generate lower quality and less considered responses.
Conclude With an Open-ended Question
Having an open-ended question such as ‘is there anything else you’d like us to know?’ gives the respondent a space to share information not covered by your questions.
Source: BrightLocal Academy Customer Survey
Choose an Appropriate Medium
To maximize the number of valuable responses you receive, you’ll need to consider the medium you use for distribution. The option you choose should ensure maximum convenience for your recipients.
Email: Email is one of the most popular survey channels. You can embed questions within an email or use the email as an invitation. In that case, you’ll provide a link within the message body to the survey.
Text: A text message-based survey could be appropriate if your customers routinely deal with your local business via SMS messaging.
In-app: Does your local business have an app to manage bookings and reservations? You could embed your survey within the app, allowing users to give feedback after a certain period.
Website: Another option is to host your survey on your website and invite your customers to share their opinions after they check out their cart.
In-store: Tablets at the point of sale can provide a convenient way for customers to share their feedback with you immediately.
Don’t feel that you must limit your survey distribution to one channel. Combining channels can boost participation rates. For example, an SMS prompt after an email invite has gone unanswered may improve survey response rates.
Segment Your Recipients
Creating customer segments can improve satisfaction survey results. You may already have those customer segments set up because of other marketing activities you’ve carried out. Email lists, for example, are commonly segmented to allow more targeted messages to be sent to customers.
Segmenting your lists means you can be very specific about the questions asked. Targeting questions to smaller pools of customers also enhances the quality of the data you receive back.
Think About Your Survey Invitation Wording
How you ask your recipients to complete your survey is almost as important as what you ask. That’s because the wording of your invitation will determine whether that customer then continues to complete your feedback form.
Begin by personalizing your message so the email addresses the customer by name. Next, it’s important to outline how the survey will benefit the recipient. This could be as simple as stating that responses will be used to improve the products and services you deliver to them.
If your survey is being sent to only a small segment of customers, highlighting that within your message creates a sense of importance. Note how the recipient has been selected and is one of a select few invited to share their opinions and experiences.
Giving an estimate of the time required to complete the questionnaire is a trick often used in the most successful survey examples. Finally, remember the importance of a compelling subject line, so your invitation is read.
Source: BrightLocal Academy Customer Survey Email
Consider Offering an Incentive
Unlike reviews, you can offer incentives to customers to encourage them to share feedback via your satisfaction survey. This could be an entrance into a prize draw or a discount code for money off their next purchase with you.
14 Customer Survey Example Questions
When it comes to what questions to ask in a customer survey, there’s an almost unlimited number of options. The specific questions you include will depend on your objective and who the survey is going to. These customer survey example questions can be used to form the basis of your own satisfaction form.
1. On a scale of 1-5, how happy were you with [name of product/service]?
This question gives you a clear idea of satisfaction levels for a particular product or service. A low score indicates that something isn’t quite right and that further work needs to be done.
2. Which three features of [name of product/service] are most helpful to you?
This is a great question to ask before product development or updates take place as it allows you to hone in on what your customers consider most valuable.
3. Does our [name of product/service] represent you good value for money?
Budget is a significant consideration for many local consumers. Tracking whether your business continues to be considered a good value for money option can improve client retention rates and reduce churn.
4. If you had to choose an alternative local [name of product/service], who would it be and why?
This question can be a useful source of competitor intel. You’re asking your customers which of your local rivals they are also aware of and what’s most compelling about those alternative options. Information gleaned here can help you address gaps and maintain your competitive advantage.
5. Why did you choose our [name of product/service] rather than a competitor’s?
Similar to the previous question, this is helpful for competitor benchmarking. The responses should tell you what customers most appreciate about your offering and what differentiates you from rivals. These are your differentiators. Once you know what they are, you’re better placed to leverage them in customer communications. To widen the gap, you may also want to build on these differentiators in future product and service development.
6. Which other [name of products/services] did you consider before choosing ours?
While you will have an idea of your competitors, this may be different from what your customers consider being alternative options. Asking this question could reveal alternatives that you weren’t aware of, such as new entrants to the local market, that warrant further investigation.
7. If you could change one thing about our [name of product/service] what would it be?
This question can play a direct role in your product or service development. It highlights unresolved needs and opportunities to serve your customers better. The most common responses should be implemented as quickly as possible.
8. How can we improve your experiences with us?
This is an open-ended question that could throw up lots of interesting responses. These answers should give you an idea of what customers want and expect from you. With that knowledge, you can work on delivering those desired changes.
9. How likely are you to return to our [website/physical location]?
This is a good barometer of how you’re performing overall, as it speaks to customer intent.
10. Did you find it easy to locate what you were looking for [in-store/app/online]?
Offering a superior customer experience is critical to securing repeat business. Customers who find your website difficult to navigate, or find it hard to locate items in-store, are likely to want to avoid repeating that experience. The responses you generate here could highlight customer friction and help you make a plan to make the path to purchase more straightforward and streamlined.
11. Was our customer service team able to resolve your problem?
When it comes to customer service matters, you’ll want to know that your team is delivering. Asking if queries were resolved speaks to the effectiveness of your service.
12. Did we respond to your query promptly?
Today’s consumers expect increasingly fast responses from customer service teams– a study found that nearly half expect a response in fewer than four hours, while 12% expect a response in less than 15 minutes. This question helps you to judge how well you’re meeting those expectations and whether additional team members or a more streamlined process is required.
13. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
This question gives the respondent space to provide additional feedback they’d like to convey. This is a great question to include as it could reveal valuable information not covered by the questions you’ve asked.
14. We may contact you to discuss your responses. Is that ok?
Asking if you can reach out for a further conversation allows you to have a deeper conversation and discuss any interesting responses further. Or to clarify comments that you didn’t understand.
Consider Surveys for Direct, Actionable Feedback
While reviews are a compelling way for users to provide you with feedback, they don’t always offer actions you can use to improve your business. As we’ve highlighted, a properly planned customer survey can provide you with clear actions and insights that you can use.
Why not try adding customer surveys to your review management strategy? Get direct feedback on specific aspects of your business, to create visible change.