What questions should I ask on a customer service survey?

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It all starts with a trip to the Hi-fi store

Before starting CustomerSure in 2010, our founder, Guy Letts was heading up a customer service department at one of the UK’s largest software firms.

As you can imagine, he knew that greater customer satisfaction meant greater revenue, so he was committed to delighting every single customer. He tried everything to help his team deliver great service, but nothing seemed to really move the needle.

He threw countless initiatives at his team – away-days, ‘smile-as-you-dial’, customer feedback surveys, you name it, Guy tried it, but nothing really worked. Customer service was usually good or OK, occasionally poor, but rarely great.

Then one day, everything changed in the most unexpected way. Guy needed to back up a large number of family photos and videos so he dropped into his local Richer Sounds for some friendly advice. He left shortly afterwards with a DVD recorder, and a satisfaction card that would change his life.

The questions on that card were:

  • Were we knowledgeable and helpful?
  • Did we have the item in stock?
  • Were you served quickly?
  • If you tried to contact us before visiting, was it easy?
  • Do you have any other suggestions?

They don’t seem like much, but Guy spotted imediately how brilliant these questions were. They were exactly what he wanted the store to be good at. No more and no less. They were perfect for assessing whether they had met his expectations.

Just as important as what they do ask, is what they don’t ask.

They didn’t ask how he heard about them. They didn’t ask his age or what newspaper he read… They didn’t ask questions they were interested in, they asked questions about the things that were important to Guy.

And they didn’t waste one second of his time on anything else.

This is the most important point to bear in mind when you’re picking your survey questions: What’s important to the customer?. In fact it’s so important, we’ve made it our golden rule.

Keeping that in mind, let’s look at what else you need to consider.

How many survey questions should I ask?

Nobody in the history of the world has ever complained that a satisfaction survey was too short.

They don’t even complain when they’re too long. People just give up, and you miss out on how that customer feels, and whether they’re at risk.

If you’re asking more than 5 questions it’s probably too many.

Or maybe you’re trying to do market research instead of trying to measure and improve customer satisfaction. Don’t confuse the two, and certainly don’t combine the two.

Scored Questions: Check that customers’ priorities are being met

There’s not a standard list of questions that’s better than any other, but it is quite easy to work out what’s best for your customers and your business.

Ask yourself, “What is our business especially good at?”

It’s important to think about why a customer chose you, and not a competitor in the first place. Because that reason they is still important to them. Do your customers buy from you because you’re knowledgeable, friendly, fast… what’s your secret sauce?

If you’re going off the boil on the reason why they picked you, then you’re at risk of losing them - so measure it and act on it!

Use scored survey questions to understand how you’re doing against a customer’s expectations

Don’t worry about what scale to use for your questions. It really doesn’t matter. And don’t chop and change your scale! The harder you make a customer think, the more likely they are to give up on your form and go do something else.

Measure overall satisfaction

For this question, all you really need to know is the person’s strength of feeling at this point in time.

Are they emphatically inclined to stay with you, or are they hanging on by a thread?

Use scored survey questions to understand how you’re doing against a customer’s expectations

Ask an open question that’s easy to answer candidly.

You’ll have grasped the secret by now. The key to a torrent of useful feedback is to make it easy for your customer to tell you what’s important to them.

It shouldn’t be about you finding the answer to something that’s important to you. There are other, better ways to do that.

It’s about making it easy for your customer to tell you what you need to do (or stop doing) to keep their business.

Choosing a question for comments rather than scores is a little easier. Our favourite is:

“What can we do to improve your experience with us?”

It’s short, simple and completely open. As your customer, I can tell you anything that’s on my mind.

It has the advantage that you’re giving me permission to be honest. And you’ve asked in a way that makes it easy for me to tell you without feeling awkward, and without worrying that I’m jeopardising our relationship, because I feel like you’re asking for my help.

You can vary the wording to fit your style and tone of voice, just keep these principles in mind.

You’re not quite done

Well done on making it this far. You now know how to craft an amazing satisfaction survey that your customers will thank you for – but that alone isn’t going to add anything to your bottom line.

Spend a few more minutes reading the rest of this guide, so you know exactly when to send your new surveys, and what to do with the feedback when it arrives.

Do you have questions?
Or would you like to see CustomerSure in action?

Call us now, or email support@customersure.com to arrange a 20-minute online demo.