It's clear that customers have ever-changing needs. What once was a need for customer service reps to solve current customer problems has evolved into a need for reps to solve problems before they even exist.
How can a customer service team recognize these customer needs and effectively solve them on a day-to-day basis? Well, with the help of a customer questionnaire, of course.
By obtaining feedback from your customers, you can ensure you're on the right path. First, we will be explaining what a questionnaire is, followed by some tips on how to ace yours. If you want to skip straight to our questionnaire templates, click here.
Table of Contents:
- Questionnaire Definition
- Survey vs. Questionnaire
- Examples of Good Survey Questions
- Questionnaire Examples
- Questionnaire Design
- How to Make a Questionnaire
- Questionnaire Templates
A questionnaire is a series of questions that are asked of your customers. These questions are typically a combination of close-ended and open-ended questions. Long-form questions leave room for customers to elaborate on their thoughts.
The questions should always remain as unbiased as possible. For instance, mentioning a specific product and service that is in the ideation phase and asking for feedback on it is unwise. Rather, ask broad questions about the kinds of qualities and features your customers enjoy in your products or services and incorporate that feedback into constructing your new merchandise.
Questionnaires can be a more feasible and efficient research method than in-depth interviews. Questionnaires are a lot cheaper to conduct than in-person interviews, which require paying interviewers for their time. They also save time, for both parties, as customers can fill it quickly on their own time and employees don't have to take time out of their days to sit in on interviews.
Lastly, questionnaires can capture a larger audience. While it would be impossible for a large company with upwards of tens of thousands of customers to interview every single customer in person, the same company could potentially get close to receiving feedback from their entire customer base when using online questionnaires.
The point is that a questionnaire reaches as large and diverse an audience as possible. When considering your current products and services, as well as ideas for new products and services, it's essential to get the feedback of the existing and potential customers as they are the ones who have a say in whether or not they want to make a purchasing decision.
Survey vs. Questionnaire
A questionnaire is a set of questions used to conduct a survey, which is the process of gathering, sampling, analyzing, and interpreting data from a group of people. A questionnaire is simply one of the tools used to conduct a survey.
The confusion between these terms most likely stems from the fact that questionnaires and data analysis were treated as very separate processes back in the day. Questionnaires used to be completed on paper, and data analysis occurred later on if desired. Nowadays, these processes are typically combined since online survey tools allow for questionnaires to immediately produce data.
However, questionnaires can still be used for reasons other than data analysis. Job applications and medical history forms, among others, are examples of questionnaires that have no intention of being statistically analyzed. This is the key difference between questionnaires and surveys -- they can exist together or separately, but when together, a questionnaire is a tool used in a survey.
Before we dive into some examples of questionnaires, let's take a look at some common survey questions.
Examples of Good Survey Questions
- What is your favorite product?
- Why did you purchase this product?
- How satisfied are you with [product]?
- Would you recommend [product] to a friend?
- Would you recommend [company name] to a friend?
- If you could change one thing about [product], what would it be?
- Which other options were you considering before [product or company name]?
- Did [product] help you accomplish your goal?
- How would you feel if we did not offer this product, feature, or service?
- What's the primary reason for canceling your account?
- How satisfied are you with our customer support?
- Did we answer all of your questions and concerns?
- How can we be more helpful?
- Are we meeting your expectations?
- How satisfied are you with your experience?
1. "What is your favorite product?"
This question is a great starter for your survey. Most companies want to know what their most popular products are and this question cuts right to the point.
It's important to note that this question provides you with the customer's perspective, not empirical evidence. You should compare the results to your inventory to see if your customers' answers match your actual sales. You may be surprised to find your customers' "favorite" product isn't the highest-selling one.
2. "Why did you purchase this product?"
Once you know what their favorite product is, you need to know why they like it so much. This qualitative data helps your marketing and sales teams attract and engage customers. They'll know which features to advertise most and can seek out new leads who have similar needs to your existing customers.
3. "How satisfied are you with [product]?"
When you have a product that isn't selling, you can ask this question to see why customers are unhappy with it. If these reviews are poor, you'll know that product needs tweaking and can send it back to product management for improvement. Or, if these results are positive, it may have something to do with your marketing or sales techniques. You can then gather more info during the questionnaire and re-strategize your campaigns based on your findings.
4. "Would you recommend [product] to a friend?"
This is a classic survey question that's used with most NPS® surveys. It asks the customer if they would recommend your product to one of their peers. This is extremely important because most people trust customer referrals more than traditional advertisement. So, if your customers are willing to refer your products, you'll have an easier time acquiring new leads.
5. "Would you recommend [company name] to a friend?"
Similar to the question above, however, this question asks the customer to consider your business as a whole and not just your product. This provides you insight into brand reputation and shows you how customers feel about your company's actions. Even if you have an excellent product, your brand's reputation may be the cause of customer churn. Your marketing team should pay close attention to this question to see how they can improve the customer experience.
6. "If you could change one thing about [product], what would it be?"
This is a good question to ask your most loyal customers or ones that have recently churned. For loyal customers, you want to keep adding value to their experience. Asking them how your product can improve helps your development team identify flaws that to correct and increases your chances of retaining a valuable customer segment.
For customers that have recently churned, this question provides insight into how you can retain future users that are unhappy with your product or service. By giving these customers a space to voice their criticisms, you can either reach out and provide solutions or relay feedback for consideration.
7. "Which other options were you considering before [product or company name]?"
If you're operating in a competitive industry, customers will have more than one option when considering your brand. Additionally, if you sell different variations of your product or produce new models periodically, customers may prefer one version over another.
For this question, you should provide answers to choose from in a multiple-selection format. This will limit the types of responses you'll receive and help you obtain the exact information you're searching for.
8. "Did [product] help you accomplish your goal?"
The purpose of any product or service is to help customers accomplish a goal. Therefore, you should be direct and ask them if your company steered them toward success. After all, customer success is an excellent retention tool. If customers are succeeding with your product, they're more likely to remain loyal to your brand.
9. "How would you feel if we did not offer this product, feature, or service?
Thinking about discontinuing a product? This question can help you decide whether or not a specific product, service, or feature will be missed if you were to remove it.
Even if you know that a product or service isn't worth offering, it's important to ask this question anyway because there may be a certain aspect of the product that your customers really like and they'll be delighted if you can integrate that feature into a new product or service.
10. "What's the primary reason for canceling your account?"
Finding out why customers are unhappy with your product or service is key to decreasing your churn rate. If you don't understand why people are leaving your brand, it's hard to make effective changes that will prevent future turnover. Or worse, you might alter your product or service in a way that increases your churn rate, causing you to lose customers who were once loyal supporters.
11. "How satisfied are you with our customer support?"
It's worth asking customers how happy they are with your support or service team. After all, an excellent product doesn't always guarantee that customers will remain loyal to your brand. Research shows that one in three customers will leave a brand that they love after just one poor service experience.
12. "Did we answer all of your questions and concerns?"
This is a good question to ask after a service experience. It shows how thorough your support team is and whether or not they're prioritizing speed too much over quality. If customers still have questions and concerns after a service interaction, then your support team is focusing too much on closing tickets and not enough on meeting customer needs.
13. "How can we be more helpful?"
Sometimes it's easier to be direct and simply ask customers what else you can do to help them. This shows a genuine interest in your buyers' goals which helps your brand foster meaningful relationships with its customer base. The more you can show that you sincerely care about your customers' problems, the more they'll open up to you and be honest about how you can help them.
15. "Are we meeting your expectations?"
This is a really important question to ask because customers won't always tell you when they're unhappy with your service. In fact, only 34% will leave a review after a poor customer service experience.
Not every customer is going to ask to speak with a manager when they're unhappy with your business. In fact, according to the graph above, most will quietly move on to a competitor rather than broadcast their unhappiness to your company. To prevent this type of customer churn, you need to be proactive and ask customers if your brand is meeting their expectations.
15. "How satisfied are you with your experience?"
This question asks the customer to summarize their experience with your business. It gives you a snapshot view of how the customer is feeling in that moment and what their perception is of your brand. Asking this question at the right stage in the customer's journey can tell you a lot about what your company is doing well and where you can stand to improve.
Below, we have curated a list of examples of questionnaires that my coworker and I have received from companies.
4 Questionnaire Examples
1. Customer Satisfaction Questions
I received this questionnaire after an annual appointment with my optometrist. This specific questionnaire is targeted at patient satisfaction. Since this is a company that specializes in medical services and not products, there isn't a lot of input patients can give on new things for the company to ideate and produce.
This questionnaire is effective because it's clear and concise. As someone with a pretty busy daily schedule, I wouldn't want to invest more than a couple minutes in a company questionnaire. This was also a mobile-friendly questionnaire. All the questions fit onto one screen, which saved me from having to load several pages. The open-ended question was optional, and since I had no strong feelings on the matter, I left it blank. However, offering an open-ended question as such is a great way to get feedback that goes more in-depth.
2. Customer Effort Score (CES) Questions
Recently, I took a Greyhound bus to and from New York City, and I was emailed this survey in response. This is an example of a Customer Effort Score (CES) question. These are questions on questionnaires that measure the ease of a customer's experience, not just their satisfaction with the overall experience.
This specific Greyhound survey measured the ease of my experience with my checked bag, whether or not an employee helped me load and unload my bag, how long the loading and unloading process took, and how that experience affected my overall trip. With clear close-ended questions, it was easy for me to fill out and will help Greyhound measure how much effort their customers need to put into their bus journeys.
3. Psychographic Questions
Emerson College's Center for Spiritual Life sent me the above survey during the spring semester. Since it was directed at students, it wasn't about customer satisfaction. Rather, its goal was to improve the direction and reach of the Center for Spiritual Life
As a student, I don't typically fill out surveys from the school. Emerson College has recognized this and has started offering to enter students into drawings to win prizes if they complete certain surveys. This added enticement has been effective. I've seen myself filling out more surveys than usual, especially if they're brief like this one. Offering incentives in exchange for getting customers to fill out your surveys is an excellent tactic. And, often, the prize can be as cost-effective and simple as a gift card or small cash prize.
4. Demographic Questions
Adobe sent my coworker, Sophia Bernazzani, this questionnaire recently. It's solely composed of close-ended questions. Rather than learning about a customer's experience with the brand, it focuses on gaining demographic information. The goal of this kind of questionnaire is to collect user data.
Demographic questions require less effort for customers to fill out than customer experience ones. Made up of multiple-choice questions, it also takes less time and is effective for customers who don't have the time to prioritize company questionnaires. This is a simple way for companies to collect data about their customer base, which will then help them understand their target audience in the future when planning campaigns and new products.
Based on these examples, we've included some tips below for mastering the design of your next questionnaire.
Questionnaire design is a critical part of the process of survey creation. It involves creating questions that accurately measure the opinions, experiences, and behaviors or actions of the sampling of the public the survey will ask to respond. Questionnaire design includes question development, wording, organization, and testing.
The number of questions in your questionnaire should depend on the information you're looking to collect. You should also think about your customer journey map and consider customer needs when the questionnaire is presented. If the customer is in a hurry, it may not be the time to display a 10-question survey. Where they are in the buyer's journey will dictate how many questions you'll be able to ask.
A good rule of thumb is most customers spend about five minutes filling out a 10-question survey. That means your 50-question form takes about half an hour to complete. Unless you're offering an incentive in return, that's a big ask to make to your busy customers.
This is one of the more overrated aspects of questionnaire design. You can spend hours changing colors and fonts, but these details don't make a major impact on customer engagement. Customers are more concerned with the questions you are asking them. As long as they can read the question, don't spend too much time worrying about aesthetics.
Question progression refers to the order and layout of your questionnaire. Most surveys begin with multiple choice or rating scale because these questions take less time to answer and make the customer experience appear painless. Once these questions are out of the way, the questionnaire should conclude with short-answer or open-ended questions. These sections typically take more time to complete and placing them earlier on the form can intimidate customers.
Next, let's dig into some tips for designing a successful questionnaire.
How to Make a Questionnaire
Know your question types. Keep it brief, when possible. Choose a simple visual design. Use a clear research process. Create questions with straightforward, unbiased language. Ensure every question is important. Ask one question at a time. Order your questions logically. Consider your target audience. Test your questionnaire.
Featured Resource: 5 Free Questionnaire Templates
1. Know your question types.
A simple "yes" or "no" doesn't cut it. To get feedback that actually matters, you need to give customers options to go more in-depth than that. Certain questions are more effective in some forms -- there's no need for an open-response answer style for a question on how likely your customers are to recommend your brand to others. Below, we have made a brief list of some of the main question types.
To read about all the question types and view examples, check out this post on survey questions.
Multiple-choice questions offer respondents several options of answers to choose from. This is a popular choice of questionnaire question since it's simple for people to fill out and for companies to analyze. Multiple-choice questions can be in single-answer -- respondents can only select one response -- or multiple-answer -- respondents can select as many responses as necessary -- form.
2. Rating Scale
Rating scale questions offer a scale of numbers (typically 1-10) and ask respondents to rate various items based on the sentiments assigned to that scale. This is effective when assessing customer satisfaction.
3. Likert Scale
Likert scale questions assess whether or not a respondent agrees with the statement, as well as the extent to which they agree or disagree. These questions typically offer 5 or 7 responses, with sentiments ranging from items such as "strongly disagree" to "strongly agree."
Open-ended questions ask a broader question, or possibly elaboration on a certain response to one of the close-ended questions above. They are accompanied by a text box that leaves room for respondents to write freely. This is particularly important when asking customers to expand on an experience or recommendation.
2. Keep it brief, when possible.
Most questionnaires don't need to be longer than a page. For routine customer satisfaction surveys, it's not necessary to ask 50 slightly varied questions about a customer's experience when those questions could be combined into 10 solid questions.
The shorter your questionnaire is, the more likely a customer is to complete it. I, myself, have been guilty of attempting to complete a company questionnaire, seeing the several pages of questions, and immediately closing the tab. Your customers are busy, and you should show that you value their time.
In addition, a shorter questionnaire means less data for your team to collect and analyze. It will be a lot easier for you to get the information you need to make the necessary changes in your organization and products based on the feedback.
3. Choose a simple visual design.
Questionnaires are not the time to show off your funky graphic design skills. When asking questions that are important to furthering your company, it's best to keep things simple. Select a font, like Arial or Helvetica, that is common and easy-to-read, as well as a text size that can be navigated by customers of all abilities.
In my opinion, a questionnaire is most effective when all the questions are laid out onto one page that fits onto a single screen. Layout is important; if a questionnaire is even remotely difficult to fill out, this will deter many customers. Ensure that buttons and checkboxes are easy to click and that questions are visible on both computer and mobile screens.
And, again, there's no need to make your questionnaire a stunning work of art. As long as it's clear and concise, it will be attractive to customers.
4. Use a clear research process.
Before even beginning to plan questions for your questionnaire, you should ensure you have a definite direction for it. A questionnaire is only effective if its questions bring in results that help you answer an overarching research question. After all, the research process is an important part of the survey, and a questionnaire is a tool that benefits the process.
In your research process, you should first come up with a research question. What are you trying to find out? What's the point of this questionnaire? Keep this question in mind throughout the rest of the process.
After coming up with a research question, it's a good idea to have a hypothesis. What do you predict the results will be for your questionnaire? This can be structured in a simple "If … then …" format. Having structure to your experiment -- because, yes, your questionnaire is a type of experiment -- will ensure that you're only collecting and analyzing data that you actually need to help you answer your research question and move forward with your survey.
5. Create questions with straightforward, unbiased language.
When you're crafting your questions, it's important that you get your point across well. You don't want there to be any confusion for your customers because this may wrongly influence their answers. Thus, use clear language. Don't use unneeded jargon, and use simple terms in favor of longer-winded ones.
You may risk the reliability of your data if you try to put two questions in one. Rather than asking, "How was your experience shopping with us, and would you recommend us to others?" simply separate those questions into two separate questions. That way customers are clear on the question you are asking and what their response should be.
Additionally, you should always keep the language in your questions unbiased. You never want to sway customers one way or another because this will cause your data to be incorrect. Instead of asking, "Some might say that we create the best software products in the world. Would you agree or disagree?" it may be better to ask, "How would you rate our software products on a scale of 1 to 10?" This removes any bias and ensures that all your customer responses are valid.
6. Ensure every question is important.
When you're creating your questionnaire, keep in mind that time is one of the most valuable commodities for customers. Most aren't going to sit through a 50-question survey, especially when they're being asked about products or services they didn't use. Even if they do fill it out, most of these will be half-hearted responses from fatigued customers who are just trying to complete the survey.
While more questions may sound like more data, make sure each question has a specific purpose. Each one should be aimed at collecting certain pieces of information that reveal new insights into different aspects of your business. If your questions are irrelevant or seem out of place, your customers will be easily derailed from the survey. And, once the customer has lost interest, it's difficult to regain their focus.
7. Ask one question at a time.
Since every question has a purpose, each one should be asked one at a time. This lets the customer focus and encourages them to provide a thoughtful response. This is particularly important for open-ended questions where customers need to describe an experience or opinion.
By grouping questions together, you can easily overwhelm customers that are trying to quickly fill out your survey. They may think you're asking them too much or see your questionnaire as a daunting task that takes hours to complete. You want your survey to appear as painless as possible and keeping your questions separated will make it more user-friendly.
8. Order your questions logically.
A good questionnaire is like a good book. The beginning questions should lay the framework, the middle ones should cut to the core issues, and the final questions should tie all of the loose ends up. This type of sensible flow keeps customers engaged throughout the entire survey.
When creating your questionnaire, start with the most basic and ground-level questions. These are your demographic questions and other ones aimed at understanding the physical characteristics of your customers. You can use this information to segment your customer base and create different buyer personas.
Next, add in your product and services questions. These are the ones that provide insights into common customer roadblocks and where you can improve your business's offers. Questions like these guide your product development and marketing teams who are looking for new ways to enhance the customer experience.
Finally, you should conclude your questionnaire with open-ended questions aimed at understanding the customer journey. These questions let customers voice their opinions and point out specific experiences they've had with your brand.
9. Consider your target audience.
Whenever you collect customer feedback, you need to keep in mind the goals and needs of your target audience. After all, the participants in this questionnaire are your active customers. Your questions should be geared towards the interests and experiences they've had with your company.
You can even create multiple surveys aimed at different buyer personas. For example, if you have a subscription pricing model, you can create a questionnaire for each subscription at your company. That way, you can ask questions that are personalized for your customers.
10. Test your questionnaire.
Once your questionnaire is complete, it's important to test it. If you don't, you may end up asking the wrong questions and collecting irrelevant or inaccurate information. Start by giving your employees the questionnaire to test, then send it to small groups of customers and analyze the results. If you're gathering the data you're looking for, then you should release the questionnaire to all of your customers.
Customer Satisfaction Questionnaire Template
The following template gives some basic customer satisfaction questions that you can ask any of your customers.
1. How likely are you to recommend us to family, friends, or colleagues?
2. How satisfied were you with your experience with us?
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10
3. Rank the following items in terms of their priority to your purchasing process.
Quality of product
Price of product
Ease of purchase
Proximity of store
Appearance of product
4. Who did you purchase these products for?
On behalf of a business
5. Please rate our staff on the following terms:
Friendly __ __ __ __ __ Hostile
Helpful __ __ __ __ __ Useless
Knowledgeable __ __ __ __ __ Inexperienced
Professional __ __ __ __ __ Inappropriate
6. Would you purchase from our company again?
7. How can we improve your experience for the future?
Customer Effort Score Questionnaire Template
The following template gives an example of a brief CES questionnaire that you can ask any of your customers.
1. What was the ease of your experience with our company?
2. The company did everything they could to make my process as easy as possible.
3. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being "extremely quickly" and 10 being "extremely slowly"), how fast were you able to solve your problem?
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10
4. How much effort did you have to put forth while working with our company?
Much more than expected
Somewhat more than expected
As much as expected
Somewhat less than expected
Much less than expected
Demographic Questionnaire Template
Here's a template for surveying customers to learn more about their demographic background:
1. How would you describe your employment status?
2. How many employees work at your company?
3. How would you classify your role?
4. How would you classify your industry?
Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in July 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Apr 6, 2021 5:00:00 PM, updated April 07 2021