Gathering customer feedback sounds like it should be a simple task for any business to undertake – just ask your customers what they think, how hard can it be?!
If that’s true, then why are some companies successful at collecting feedback, whilst others try it halfheartedly for a few weeks before forgetting about or cancelling the project? If it was easy, everyone would be great at it, right?
Collecting feedback doesn’t have to be hard or complicated. In fact it’s best when kept simple. But ‘simple’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘obvious’. Sometimes ‘common sense’ can be pretty uncommon.
To guarantee success, there are a few things you need to know about how to ask, when to ask, and how to follow-up on the feedback you get. We cover all these topics on this blog, but today we’re here to help you with ‘how to ask’ – and more precisely, ‘what to ask’.
If you ask the right questions, you’ll receive tons of feedback you can act on to improve your customers’ experience and your business and cut sales and marketing costs. Ask the wrong ones, and you’ll get poor quality information or none at all.
Bonus: Download 10 Free Feedback Form Templates you can use to supercharge your customer feedback efforts.
What Customer Feedback Questions Should I Use?
To summarise, there’s one very short answer to this question: ‘Ones your customers care about answering’.
Need a longer answer? Let’s look at some examples of what your customers do and don’t care about answering. I promise you’ll be able use this advice for your own business, regardless of what industry you’re involved with.
Me, me, me
Most customer service problems can be solved by putting yourself in your customers’ shoes. When you are a customer, what questions are you happy to answer, and why?
In general it’s questions which:
- Don’t require much thought
- Relate to your experience and needs in some way
Conversely, questions which require you to engage your brain or don’t seem directly related to your needs are a turn-off.
This isn’t surprising – we’re all busy, and to cope with this, our brains are very good at shutting out information and tasks it deems unnecessary, allowing us to focus on what’s important (actually, it’s often what’s urgent, not what’s important, but that’s another story for another day).
Here’s some examples of good questions:
How easy was it to buy from us?
This is a must for any online retailers. You need to keep a temperature check on whether your checkout process is putting customers off. This is a simple and easy way to take that check. Customers will have a strong opinion on how easy it was to buy, and will let you know either way.
How happy are you with your purchase?
Another important one for anyone who ships goods to a customer. Notice again, it’s a simple question, and something that customers will have strong opinions on.
How well did we understand what you wanted?
How well did we communicate?
These two are the underrated A-list superstars of the customer feedback question world. Communicating with customers, and understanding their needs are two of the hardest things to get right in any business, but two of the most fundamental to success.
When customers trust that you ‘get’ them – you understand their needs and priorities, they are a lot more forgiving of slip-ups, and a lot faster to recommend you to their friends.
There are whole blog posts and even books about ways to understand and communicate with your customers, but these two questions are a simple check on how well you’re doing at it. Your customers will have strong opinions on on your communication skills, so you will get responses.
How likely is it that you would recommend us to a friend or colleague?
The good old Net Promoter Question. This is easy for customers to answer, and even though it may not seem like it on the surface, it is very aligned with their experience and needs.
One of the most important things to your customers is their reputation. People want to be respected and seen as ‘in the know’, and recommending valuable products and services to their peers is one of the many ways they build this respect.
If your service hasn’t been up to scratch, it’s a wasted opportunity for them to build their reputation, and they’ll be keen to let you know about it.
What does a bad question look like?
By now, you probably know the answer to this – anything which causes the customer to think for a second or makes them feel like it’s wasting their time is a bad customer feedback question.
In particular, anything like:
Which of the following services do you think you’ll buy in the next 12 months?
Will cause people to pause for thought. In fact, you should be wary of anything with wording like:
Pick your top three from these five options
orrank these ten things in priority order.
These questions require your customers to think, and as such will cause your response rates to plummet (and the responses you get will skew towards the more ‘extreme’ members of your customer base rather than being a representative sample).
But We Need to Ask Something More Complicated!
We talk to people all day, every day about customer feedback, and this is one of the most common things we hear when the conversation turns to feedback questions.
Very often, if you want to ask these questions, you’re trying to do market research, not to measure and improve customer satisfaction. Market research is a vitally important business process, but it’s not an effective way to improve customer satisfaction.
Customer feedback is simply checking how happy your customers are, and finding and fixing the things which make them unhappy – it’s equally important, but completely different to market research.
We find that customer feedback is a great starting point for market research. Collecting feedback familiarises you with your customer base, and provides you with a good ‘target list’ of customers which you can segment and approach for further questioning.
What scoring system should I use for my questions?
There’s another short answer, and a long answer to this. The short answer is “it really doesn’t matter”.
The longer answer is that it doesn’t matter, because whatever you use, the feedback you get is more important than the scores you collect.
Scores are a useful checkpoint, and you can measure and track changes in score over time, but it’s the written feedback which accompanies the scores which tells a story and will help you grow your business.
If you score ‘good’, ‘bad’ or ‘average’, you need to be worried about any feedback questions which don’t consistently score ‘good’.
If you score 0-10, you need to be worried about any questions which don’t consistently score ‘9’ or ‘10’. Average isn’t good enough to grow your business, so you need to be reading your customer comments and taking action to improve the scores!
If you’re interested in taking control of customer satisfaction, why not read our scoring system for feedback forms, why you shouldn’t offer a prize for people to give you feedback or our 10 tips for brilliant feedback forms.
Or just sign up for our free customer satisfaction course. It’s just 4 short lessons between you and customer feedback nirvana.
Or don’t wait – take a free trial of CustomerSure. Every free trial comes with free coaching from one of our customer feedback experts. We’ll help you find out what your customers think of you!