How well do you know your customers?
Getting to know your audience is one of the most important parts of growing a business, and it can be as easy as sending a single email with a well-structured survey.
With the in-depth understanding that you gain from customer satisfaction surveys, you’ll be able to create better online shopping experiences for your customers and build more targeted marketing campaigns to help you reach better-fit customers—creating a better customer journey.
When you’re finished with this guide, you’ll be able to craft an awesome survey that gets you actionable customer satisfaction data.
In this post, we’ll go over:
- What is a customer satisfaction survey?
- The purpose of satisfaction surveys
- Types of satisfaction surveys
- Customer satisfaction survey questions to ask
- Tips for creating customer satisfaction surveys
- How to distribute surveys for great response rates
What is a customer satisfaction survey?
A customer satisfaction survey (CSAT) is a tool businesses use to measure their customers’ satisfaction or to better understand customer opinions regarding its products and services. These surveys result in measurable customer feedback a business can use to then improve its product or service offering—or review its market positioning.
The purpose of customer satisfaction surveys
To provide some more detail on why you might want to conduct a CSAT survey, here are some of the benefits businesses experience when they do.
Understand customers’ expectations
A satisfaction survey serves as a tool for your customers to give honest feedback about your business (or specific offerings from it). So when you provide them with the opportunity, they’ll tell you what they feel about your business, which helps you understand customer needs better.
If your overall “scores” (more on that later) are low, then you and your team, if applicable, are not reaching your customers’ expectations and need to think about how to win them over.
Improve customer retention
Happy customers don’t always stay happy, so offering regular CSAT surveys can help you catch any looming issues before they become bigger problems. If appropriate, you can reach out to customers who filled out negative feedback and find out what would make them stay.
If the customers are happy, you can still gain valuable information about what might make them even happier and figure out similar customers to target. If you know what makes customers happy, you can improve customer retention and increase customer lifetime value (CLV) in your store.
Learn more: 5 Effective Customer Retention Strategies
Make better products
You can compare respondents to see if there’s a trend among them—good and bad. Is there a particular product not quite hitting the mark with lots of customers? If so, you can use that information to divert resources toward making that product better.
If a particular product or feature is driving more satisfied customers, you can also learn from that to figure out what about it makes them happy, and apply that to future or existing products or services.
Types of customer satisfaction surveys
You might have thought there was only one type of customer or client satisfaction survey, but there are different kinds that help you understand various perspectives. This section will cover the four main types of surveys you can send to your customers.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
According to a 2021 benchmark report by CustomerGauge, Net Promoter Score (NPS) is the most popular (41%) metric businesses use to measure customer opinions. The reason is that it’s so simple. It’s usually only a single question using a Likert scale, asking the customer how likely they are to recommend your business.
Here’s an example from Squarespace:
While it’s popular for businesses to use email, it’s also not uncommon to see SMS versions of the NPS survey (particularly in the telecom industry).
The purpose of the NPS survey is as simple as it gets—to gauge whether your customers are happy enough to recommend your business to their network. If they’re not likely to recommend your business, you can use the survey as a learning opportunity to find out why.
Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)
Customer satisfaction score (CSAT) is another metric, obtained by using a CSAT feedback survey. Customer satisfaction score was the second most used measure by businesses in 2021 (sitting at 26%). In brief, it measures customer happiness or overall satisfaction with your products, services, and business interactions.
While some businesses will use a CSAT survey to measure overall business opinions using open-ended questions, you can also create multiple-choice questionnaires for specific product purchases.
In the above example, Protein Works uses a rating scale for multiple measurements of its protein supplement product (sweetness, lumpiness, the strength of flavor, and whether the customer would buy the product again).
Customer effort score (CES)
A little different from the other surveys so far, the customer effort score is a metric that helps measure how much effort the customer puts into interacting with your business, or how easy/difficult it was to solve an issue with customer support.
The purpose of tracking this metric is to make sure there isn’t negative customer sentiment after interactions with your team. If there is, the CES can help identify those negative experiences and make them right.
Here’s an example of a customer effort score survey in action from energy company EDF using Whatsapp:
While we don’t know for sure what the other two questions of EDF’s customer experience survey would have been, this first question is a measurement of CES.
Product-market fit (PMF)
Similar to the NPS survey, the product-market fit survey also usually contains just one question. It reads along the lines of: “How would you feel if you could no longer use X?” where X is your product or service.
Here’s an example of a PMF survey from Buffer:
Note that this is an image of the results—the question also included the option to say “Not disappointed.”
The purpose of conducting a PMF survey is to help determine whether your product or service is right for the people you’re trying to target as customers (product-market fit). If lots of customers say they wouldn’t be disappointed at the loss of your product, then you don’t have a stable PMF.
On the other hand, if lots of customers would be disappointed with the loss of your product or service, then you’ve likely found a good PMF.
Customer satisfaction survey questions to ask
You might be wondering, apart from the one-liner questions you can ask in the different survey types above, what are other important questions you can ask in a more in-depth CSAT survey?
In this section, we’ll give you some sample questions and discuss why they’re important.
1. What are we doing that you like?
This question is great because it allows your customer to express what parts of your business are both relevant and useful to them—which also helps you learn the flip side of what parts aren’t as beneficial to them.
2. What could we be doing better?
Your customers are the people who use your product or service and know what they need from it the best. If a part of your offering isn’t up to par or addressing their pain points, the customer is also the best person to tell you what needs improving and might even have some ideas on how to do it. This is arguably the most valuable feedback you can get.
3. What would you like to see us offer?
You can get some amazing ideas from customer feedback when you ask a question like this. For example, the digital bank Monzo has a community forum dedicated to feedback and feature ideas:
Any business can do this on a smaller scale with the help of a CSAT survey asking this question. When you ask, you have a better idea of what your customers want your product or service to look like in the future.
4. What’s the main benefit you get from our product/service?
This question is similar to “What are we doing that you like?” but offers the customer a chance to be more specific about the product features they find most useful. However, it also helps you understand your biggest selling point and communicate that to other potential new customers.
5. Would you renew your contract/subscription based on what you feel/get from the product/service right now? Why yes, or why not (if applicable)?
If your business uses a subscription-based pricing model or offers it alongside one-off purchases, it’s worth asking your customers if they intend to renew and why. By asking, you can determine if the subscription offer is finding a product-market fit, and if they wouldn’t renew, you can find out ways to help improve the offering to build more loyalty.
6. Why did you choose our product/service over another competitor?
This is a better version of the question “How did you find out about us?” It helps prompt more details about the specific selling points of your business that works compared to your competitors. It also helps you see what your competitive advantage is from the eyes of your target market, rather than what people in your business think are advantages.
7. If you had to choose another competitor for a similar product/service, which would it be and why?
Understanding your business’s competitive advantages is all well and good, but information about what your customers believe other businesses’ competitive advantages are is also worth its weight in gold. You can use the valuable insight from these survey responses to generate ideas for future directions in your business.
Tips for creating customer satisfaction surveys
1. Keep it simple
Your questions need to be as simple as possible to ensure that you’re getting results you can actually use. Be straightforward—if you’re looking for an opinion on a particular product or feature, ask about it specifically—and make sure that you’re only asking one question at a time.
An overcomplicated survey can seem like way too much effort and discourage customers from participating, so keep it short and sweet.
2. Be goal-oriented
Every question should be asked with a purpose in mind. Think about the central challenge you’re trying to overcome with your survey and brainstorm questions that can help you get the data you need to be successful.
There’s no room for fluff, so make sure that every question is actually useful to you. Remember: You need to show your customers how much you value their time by not wasting it.
3. Ask closed and open-ended questions
Closed-ended questions with Yes/No, multiple choice, and scaled answers can be great for collecting demographic data, but your most fascinating insights will probably come from asking open-ended questions.
Think about it this way: Use closed-ended questions when you’re looking for a specific response and open-ended questions when you want general feedback or suggestions.
Give your customers lots of opportunities to share how they really feel about your business and products. What they have to say may surprise you!
4. Use neutral language
Avoid using leading or loaded questions when you’re building your survey. These landmines can completely skew your results by unfairly influencing the way a participant responds. Try to keep your wording as neutral as possible and avoid any emotional language or value statements about your business, products, or customers.
You should also avoid making assumptions about your customers’ experiences. Don’t say things like, “We’ve recently made this tool better …” or “We know our customers love our new features …” The less biased a question, the more valuable the response.
Don’t want to create your own? Use this customer satisfaction survey template by SurveyMonkey to speed up the process.
How to distribute surveys for great response rates
At this point, you’ve built an amazing survey and are ready to get it out to your customers. But before you hit the Send button, check out the below list of the different methods for distributing your survey—some can get you better results than others, and there are a few best practices to bear in mind.
- Email surveys. If you’ve got an existing customer base in an email marketing service or CRM, one of the best places to start with your surveys is emails. According to a 2022 study, the average email open rate in all industries is 29.55%.
- Web-based surveys. Web-based online surveys are a great option if you want multi-device support—using a service like Survey Monkey can help you turn your survey into a link that you can share anywhere on the web.
- SMS surveys. If you ask your customers for their phone numbers (which is common in the ecommerce industry for order tracking), you can send them an automated text-based survey after purchases or after dealing with customer support teams (similar to the EDF example in the previous section).
- In-person tablet surveys. If your business has a physical store, you can survey your customers right in the store with a tablet or smartphone device. The main benefit of this method is that you can gather insights in real time and have the data safely secured in the cloud.
- In-person paper surveys. Similar to the above, except with paper-based surveys you can get quick feedback without intimidating anyone with technology. The main benefit of this method is that you’re getting opinions in the moment of shopping rather than later on, which can produce different customer insights.
- Telephone surveys. While not as popular as other methods, telephone surveys can still be useful if your target market is less inclined to use technology to complete surveys. You can do them with real people (which can be expensive in terms of hiring employees), or you can use computer-assisted telephone interviews (CATI). A 2021 study found this method produced a 30% response rate.
- Postal surveys. Similar to telephone surveys, this method is great for gathering insights from more difficult-to-reach population groups. It’s also easy for ecommerce stores to include a postal survey with product deliveries (as long as you include a prepaid response envelope).
- Social media surveys. If your brand is doing well on social media, you can broadcast a survey to your audience using a social media platform of your choice. This is a great option if you want to try reaching as many people as possible.
- QR code surveys. Similar to web-based surveys where you provide a link anywhere on the web, you can use a QR code to link to a survey both online and in person. This is a good option for businesses targeting a younger generation (54% of shoppers using marketing-related QR codes were aged 18 to 29).
- Digital workspace surveys. This one is pretty niche, but if your business happens to use a digital workspace for brand community management (e.g., Slack, Tribe Community Platform), many of these tools come with built-in survey features you can use.
- In-app surveys. If your business has a proprietary app for shopping, you can add an in-app survey functionality to it (which might cost time and money in development). However, with Shopify, you can install survey apps such as Post Purchase NPS Survey that help you set one up on your Shopify store with ease.
While one of these methods of distribution might suit your business better than others, there’s no rule to say you can’t use more than one to help maximize your response rates. For example, you can include a postal survey with your customer’s orders, and also send them an email survey later to give them more choices to respond.
Build a customer satisfaction survey for your store today
Customer satisfaction surveys are a critical part of getting to know your customers, and their level of satisfaction, as well as helping to identify customer loyalty and detractors.
Their insights can also help you inform your business on how to prevent churn by moving forward with relevant communication and product or service offerings. It can also help you provide great customer service and improve retention in your store.
While there are dedicated third-party survey tools available, you can easily install a Shopify app for your store. This way, you can see your response insights right on your Shopify dashboard and not have to go anywhere else for information.
Ready to create your business? Start your free trial of Shopify—no credit card required.
Customer satisfaction survey FAQ
What is the purpose of a customer satisfaction survey?
- Gain insights on customer behaviors
- Better understand your target audience
- Improve product quality
- Create more loyal customers
What should be the goal of a customer satisfaction survey?
What questions should I ask in a customer survey?
A few questions to ask in your customer surveys include:
- What can we be doing better to serve you?
- What products would you like to see us offer?
- What are your biggest challenges?
- How does this product help you achieve your goals?
- What’s your favorite feature of this product?