The adage "the customer is always right" has received some pushback in recent years, but when it comes to conducting surveys, the phrase is worth a deeper look. In the past, reps were tasked with solving client problems as they happened. Now, reps are having to be proactive by solving problems before they come up.
Salesforce found that 63% of customers expect companies to anticipate their needs before they ask for help. But how can a customer service team recognize these customer needs in advance and effectively solve them on a day-to-day basis?
A customer questionnaire is a tried-and-true method for collecting survey data that can inform your customer service strategy. By hearing directly from the customer, you'll capture first-hand data about how well your service team is meeting their needs. In this article, you'll get free questionnaire templates and best practices on how to administer them for the most honest responses.
Table of Contents:
- Questionnaire Definition
- Survey vs. Questionnaire
- Questionnaire Templates
- Examples of Good Survey Questions
- Questionnaire Examples
- Questionnaire Design
- How to Make a Questionnaire
A questionnaire is a research tool used to conduct surveys. It includes specific questions with the goal to understand a topic from the respondents' point of view. Questionnaires typically include closed-ended, open-ended, short-form, and long-form questions.
The questions should always remain as unbiased as possible. For instance, it's unwise to ask for feedback on a specific product or service that is still in the ideation phase. To complete the questionnaire, the customer would have to imagine how they might experience the product or service rather than sharing their opinion about their actual experience with it.
Rather, ask broad questions about the kinds of qualities and features your customers enjoy in your products or services and incorporate that feedback into new offerings your team is developing.
In-Depth Interviews vs. Questionnaire
Questionnaires can be a more feasible and efficient research method than in-depth interviews. They are a lot cheaper to conduct because in-depth interviews can require you to compensate the interviewees for their time and provide accommodations and travel reimbursement.
Questionnaires also save time for both parties because customers can quickly complete them on their own time and employees of your company don't have to spend time conducting the interviews. They can capture a larger audience than in-depth interviews can which makes them much more cost-effective.
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 an online questionnaire.
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 tool that is used to conduct a survey. A survey is the process of gathering, sampling, analyzing, and interpreting data from a group of people.
The confusion between these terms most likely stems from the fact that questionnaires and data analysis were treated as very separate processes before the internet became popular. Questionnaires used to be completed on paper, and data analysis occurred later as a separate process. Nowadays, these processes are typically combined since online survey tools allow questionnaire responses to be analyzed and aggregated all in one step.
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.
Below are some of the best free questionnaire templates you can download to gather data that informs your next product or service offering.
Free HubSpot Questionnaire Template
HubSpot offers a variety of free customer surveys and questionnaire templates to analyze and measure customer experience. Choose from five templates including net promoter score, customer satisfaction, customer effort, open-ended questions, and long-form customer surveys.
5 Customer Survey Templates
Client Questionnaire Template
It's a good idea to gauge your clients' experiences with your business to uncover opportunities to improve your offerings so that they better suit their lifestyles. You don't have to wait for an entire year to pass before polling your customer base about their experience either. A simple client questionnaire like the one below can be administered as a micro survey several times throughout the year. These types of quick survey questions work well to retarget your existing customers through social media polls and paid interactive ads.
1. How much time do you spend using [product or service]?
- Less than a minute
- About 1 - 2 minutes
- Between 2 and 5 minutes
- More than 5 minutes
2. In the last month, what has been your biggest pain point?
- Finding enough time for important tasks
- Delegating work
- Having enough to do
3. What's your biggest priority right now?
- Finding a faster way to work
- Staff development
Website Questionnaire Template
Whether you just launched a brand new website or you're gathering data points to inform a redesign, you'll find customer feedback to be essential in both processes. A website questionnaire template will come in handy to gather this information using an unbiased method.
1. How many times have you visited [website] in the past month?
- More than once
2. What is the primary reason for your visit to [website]?
- To make a purchase
- To find more information before making a purchase in-store
- To contact customer service
3. Are you able to find what you're looking for on the website homepage?
Customer Satisfaction Questionnaire Template
If you've never surveyed your customers and are looking for a template to get started, this one includes some basic customer satisfaction questions. These will apply to just about any customer your business serves.
1. How likely are you to recommend us to family, friends, or colleagues?
- Extremely unlikely
- Somewhat unlikely
- Somewhat likely
- Extremely likely
2. How satisfied were you with your experience?
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10
3. Rank the following items in terms of their priority to your purchasing process.
- Helpful staff
- Quality of product
- Price of product
- Ease of purchase
- Proximity of store
- Online accessibility
- Current need
- Appearance of product
- 4. Who did you purchase these products for?
- Family member
- 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. This free template works well for new customers as it measures their initial reaction to your business.
1. What was the ease of your experience with our company?
- Extremely difficult
- Somewhat difficult
- Somewhat easy
- Extremely easy
2. The company did everything they could to make my process as easy as possible.
- Strongly disagree
- Somewhat disagree
- Somewhat agree
- Strongly agree
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. You could substantiate the analysis of this questionnaire by corroborating the data with other information from your web analytics, internal customer data, and industry data.
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?
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?
- If you couldn't use your favorite product from us, what would you miss the most?
- What is one word that best describes your experience using our product?
- 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?
- What additional features would you like to see in this product?
- 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. The qualitative data will help your marketing and sales teams attract and engage customers. They'll know which features to advertise most and can seek out new leads who are similar 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 the product needs to be reworked and you can send it back to product management for improvement. Or, if these results are positive, they 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 advertising. So, if your customers are willing to recommend 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, this one asks the customer to consider your business as a whole and not just your product. This gives you insight into your brand's reputation and shows 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 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 like and they'll be delighted if you can integrate that feature into a new product or service.
10. "If you couldn't use your favorite product from us, what would you miss the most about it?"
This question pairs well with the one above because it frames the customer's favorite product from a different point of view. Instead of describing why they love a particular product, the customer can explain what they'd be missing if they didn't have it at all. This type of question uncovers "fear of loss" which can be a very different motivating factor compared to "hope for gain".
11. "What word best describes your experience using our product?"
Your marketing team will love this question. A single word or a short phrase can easily sum up the emotions your customers feel when they experience your company, product, or brand. Those emotions can be translated into relatable marketing campaigns that use the exact language your customers use.
If the responses reveal negative emotions, it's likely that your entire customer service team can relate to that pain point. Rather than calling it "a bug in the system" you can describe the problem as a "frustrating roadblock" for the customer to keep their experience at the forefront of the solution.
12. "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.
13. "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.
14. "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.
15. "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.
16. What additional features would you like to see in this product?
With this question, your team can get inspiration for the company's next product launch. Think of the responses as a wish list from your customers — you can discover what features are most valuable to them and whether they already exist within a competitor's product.
It's nearly impossible to incorporate every feature suggestion, but it's a convenient way to build a backlog of ideas that can inspire future product releases.
17. "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. Not every customer is going to ask to speak with a manager when they're unhappy with your business. In fact, 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.
18. "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 questionnaire examples that do a great job of gathering valuable qualitative and quantitative data.
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 of 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 received this survey via email. This is an example of a Customer Effort Score (CES) question. These are questions that measure the ease of a customer's experience, not just their satisfaction with the overall experience.
This specific Greyhound survey measured how easy my experience with checking luggage was, whether or not an employee helped me load and unload my luggage, how long the loading and unloading process took, and how all of that experience affected my overall trip. With clear close-ended questions, it was easy for me to complete the questionnaire. As a result of this questionnaire, Greyhound will measure how much effort their customers need to put into their bus journeys and potentially find ways to make their trips easier.
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, 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 because my time is spent completing assignments. Emerson College has recognized this and has started offering to enter students into drawings to win prizes if they complete certain surveys. Offering incentives in exchange for getting customers to fill out your surveys is an excellent tactic. And, often, the prize can be cost-effective like 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 used 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 and best practices below for mastering the design of your next questionnaire.
Questionnaire design is a critical part of the survey creation process. It involves creating questions that accurately measure the opinions, experiences, behaviors, or actions of the respondents. Questionnaire design includes question development, writing, 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 ask of your busy customers.
The way a questionnaire is presented can make a big impact on how the survey is perceived. Just about everything from the amount of spacing between questions, the number of questions on a page, design and layout, as well as the way instructions are written compared to the way questions are written can affect the respondent's experience with the survey.
Some presentation elements that make a great questionnaire include a progress bar, back and forward buttons, and clear text boxes, beck boxes, and radio buttons for selecting the appropriate response to a question.
Spend some time in the questionnaire presentation and design stage to develop a survey that your customers will want to complete.
Question progression refers to the order and layout of your questionnaire. Most surveys begin with a multiple-choice format or rating scale because these questions take less time to answer and make the questionnaire seem to take a shorter amount of time. 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 depending on how much time your customer will spend on it.
Next, let's dig into some tips for creating your own questionnaire.
How to Make a Questionnaire
Start with templates as a foundation. 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.
1. Use questionnaire templates.
Rather than build a questionnaire from scratch, consider using questionnaire templates to get started. HubSpot's collection of customer-facing questionnaire templates can help you quickly build and send a questionnaire to your clients and analyze the results right on Google Drive.
2. 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 that go in-depth. There's a method to getting accurate feedback from your questionnaire and it starts by choosing the appropriate types of questions for the information you want to know. Vrnda LeValley, customer training manager at HubSpot, recommends starting with an alignment question like "Does this class meet your expectations?" because it gives additional context to any positive or negative scores that follow. She continues, "If it didn't meet expectations, then there will potentially be negative responses across the board (as well as the reverse)."
Here are a few more types of questions you can use in your questionnaire to collect different types of data.
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.
3. 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. 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.
4. Choose a simple visual design.
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. When asking questions that are important to furthering your company, it's best to keep things simple. Select a font that is common and easy-to-read, like Helvetica or Arial, as well as a text size that can be navigated by customers of all abilities.
A questionnaire is most effective when all the questions are visible on a single screen. The layout is important — if a questionnaire is even remotely difficult to navigate, your response rate could suffer. Ensure that buttons and checkboxes are easy to click and that questions are visible on both computer and mobile screens.
5. Use a clear research process.
Before planning questions for your questionnaire, you'll need to have a definite direction for it. A questionnaire is only effective if the results answer an overarching research question. After all, the research process is an important part of the survey, and a questionnaire is a tool that's used within 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 in mind throughout 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. A structured experiment — yes, your questionnaire is a type of experiment — will ensure that you're only collecting and analyzing data necessary to answer your research question and move forward with your survey.
6. Create questions with straightforward, unbiased language.
When you're crafting your questions, it's important to structure them so that you get the point across. You don't want there to be any confusion for your customers because this may influence their answers. Instead, 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?" separate it into two separate questions. Customers will be clear on the question you are asking and choose a response most appropriate for each question.
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 skewed. 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 of the responses are valid.
7. Ask only the most important questions.
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 complete it, most of these will be half-hearted responses from fatigued customers who simply want to be finished with it.
No matter if your questionnaire is 5 questions or 55, make sure each one has a specific purpose. Individually, they 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'll be difficult to regain their focus.
8. Ask one question at a time.
Since every question has a purpose, ask them 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 risk overwhelming busy customers who don't have time for a long survey. They may think you're asking them too much or they might see your questionnaire as a daunting task. You want your survey to appear as painless as possible, and keeping your questions separated will make it more user-friendly.
9. 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 up all of the loose ends. This flow keeps customers engaged throughout the entire survey.
When creating your questionnaire, start with the most basic questions like those about demographics. 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 offerings. 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.
10. 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 already had with your company.
You can even create multiple surveys that target different buyer personas. For example, if you have a subscription-based pricing model, you can personalize your questionnaire for each type of subscription your company offers.
11. 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.
How Questionnaires Can Benefit Your Customer Service Strategy
Whether you have one customer or one thousand customers, their opinions matter when it comes to the success of your business. Their satisfaction with your offerings can reveal how well or how poorly your customer service strategy and business overall are meeting their needs. A questionnaire is one of the most powerful, cost-effective tools to uncover what your customers think about your business, and when analyzed properly, can inform your product and service launches. Use the free questionnaire templates, examples, and best practices in this guide to conduct your next customer feedback survey.
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 Sep 16, 2021 5:00:00 PM, updated September 20 2021