Conducting a Customer Satisfaction Survey - a How-to Guide

February 19th at 2:14pm by Susan Levermann

A quiet "bing" signals the receipt of a new email. A quick glance reveals that it's a survey about a new product. The e-mail is clicked out of curiosity and the addressee begins to read. But after just a few questions, he gives up and deletes it – just like the numerous other survey emails in his mailbox. In the digital age, e-mail surveying is a popular way to gain customer opinions. But too many companies think in, and consequently send e-mails in, monologue form rather than inviting buyers to an active dialogue. With the right tips, however, it’s almost too easy to create a good customer survey.

A survey is a good way to directly address consumers. Their answers give a company insight into their opinions, expectations and wishes. The data thus collected is the basis for increasing customer satisfaction. Buyer satisfaction is based on meeting their expectations of a business, product, label, brand or brand. These expectations can and should be exceeded – good news for any business that can trigger this “wow” effect. The more positive customers are surprised, the higher their customer satisfaction, which in turn strengthens customer loyalty.

If this went a little too fast, you can acquire important basic knowledge in further articles on topics such as customer focus, customer orientation or customer loyalty. On the other hand, those who nod diligently are likely to know that customer satisfaction is measurable. A variety of customer satisfaction surveys are suitable for this purpose. We will explain how to carry them out, what to avoid and what other tricks and tips are available.

What is a Customer Satisfaction Survey?

Even if the name is unambiguous, let's be crystal clear: a customer satisfaction survey asks buyers of a product about their degree of customer satisfaction in a simple way. It should be viewed as part of your customer survey arsenal, making them an instrument in the orchestra of customer satisfaction analyses.

The Customer Satisfaction Survey can be delivered in a number of ways, for example:

  • online,
  • in-person,
  • over the phone,
  • through an app,
  • via a stationary questionnaire
  • or even on a feedback terminal.

Alternatively, entrepreneurs can observe and interpret the consumer behavior of buyers. They can also define their own metrics, such as the number of purchases, return rate, or service enquiries to record customer satisfaction. These are possible variants, but a well-designed customer satisfaction survey provides better results. In the best case, the obtained data can be used even further. This is an important point, because creating a survey also means thinking a lot about the strategy in advance and using company-internal data and information. Therefore, the marketing department should discuss with the management level which goals are to be pursued in-detail, what form to take, which buyers are to be addressed and when to do so.

If you are in the middle of preparations, sooner or later a question will pop up: why does the company want to conduct such a survey in the first place? The meaning behind this is shown in the next section.

Why You Should Conduct Customer Satisfaction Surveys

Customer satisfaction is the free market’s success factor; the more satisfied customers are with a company, the more they bind themselves to it. This in turn means more products purchased, more word-of-mouth propaganda, and more positive reviews, attracting in turn new customers. Every smart entrepreneur wants such a spiral of success.

Knowing how to increase customer satisfaction is, of course, an important skill. In short, the company must meet and exceed the customer's expectations. Once this is done, many customers are satisfied. Or so one would think, because you can never really be sure. After all, no one knows if and how satisfied the buyers are, they only know for themselves. Therefore, the survey is used to specifically check this. This is the only way to really find out how high or low your customer’s satisfaction actually is. This can then be used to optimize the next step – if the customer satisfaction survey was correctly designed to fulfil this purpose.

Finally, there are many ways and means of conducting a survey. We have already mentioned some of them. We also present the individual content as a rough guide, so that everyone can carry out the optimal survey.

Customer Satisfaction Surveys - 4 Key Points

Anyone who thinks they are just going to get a few questions which they can simply copy and paste 1:1 into their mails is sadly mistaken. Such surveys have a few formal rules to observe, meaning buyers do not immediately delete them, refuse to take part, hang up or unsubscribe from all communication in general.

  • Personalized address

    If you can rely on a well-maintained database with up-to-date information, you can of course also use it to develop the perfect customer satisfaction survey. This starts with the salutation. It should match the tonality of the operation and, where possible, be personalized. A "Hey Lisa" sounds perfect for the Swedish furniture company, but with a bank as the sender, it might not come over as appropriate.

  • The introduction

    Nothing comes from nothing. If you miss catching the reader in your opening, you will lose a participant in the survey. Therefore, one should clearly state the reason and the goal of the survey and already mention here how the customer benefits from their participation. Is there perhaps a thank you? Will there be a raffle among the participants? On top of that, it is important to mention that it flatters the buyer to know their opinion is both important and appreciated by the company. Let them know that their comments will be integrated into the optimization process. These statements help the consumer to assess the importance of the survey and whether he or she wants to invest their time in it.

  • Time

    Nothing is more annoying than taking part in a survey that suddenly expands so much that you don't actually have time. This leads to frustration and rejection, where previously there was actually agreement and satisfaction. Therefore, it is recommended to specify a rough time frame to plan for the survey. This allows the addressee to decide whether he or she has time for the task and if they want to spend it with the survey.

  • Anonymity/Privacy

    IIn times of GDPR, many customers are afraid of their data. It is therefore good to show very clearly that the surveys are evaluated anonymously and that no unnecessary data is stored. A reference to one's own data protection declaration and contact with the Data Protection Supervisor will hopefully remove the last doubt. By the way: Those who, contrary to his claim, do not evaluate the survey anonymously not only lose their trustworthiness, but also expose themselves to the full force of the law. As in so many life situations, the following applies: honesty pays the best dividends!

With these four points in mind, you can design the salutation and the opening of your survey – provided you know which goal you are pursuing.

Customer Satisfaction Questionnaires: 10 Sample Questions

There are many questions that can be asked in a survey. Since a customer certainly does not want to spend a long time on any survey, it makes sense to limit themselves to only a few. The specific questions that you choose depends on individual priorities. In order to assess these priorities internally, we next describe the context of typical questions:

  • Recommendation

    One of the most important points is the willingness of buyers to recommend the business, item or services. Studies show that there is a direct link between customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and referral. Important conclusions can therefore be drawn from the statement of readiness for the recommendation. The question is as follows:

How likely is it that you would recommend us to family, friends, acquaintances or colleagues?

  • Satisfaction

    Knowing if and how satisfied the buyers are, of course, is the ultimate goal of a survey. Therefore, this question is also asked directly in order to have the overall picture of the company evaluated.

    The question is as follows:

How satisfied are you with our company?

  • Perception of the product

    In order to assess how customers perceive your product or service, you can ask them directly. This results in important data for sales and marketing, which may show a difference between product design and consumer expectations.

    The question is as follows:

What words would you use to evaluate our product /service?

  • Need satisfaction

    Each customer has individual needs for which he or she wants to buy a product. It is therefore important to check whether these needs have been met.

    The question is as follows:

How much did our product meet your needs?

  • Quality

    The quality of a product is part of its identity, but whether it corresponds to what the customer wanted can only be found out by analyzing the answers you get. Therefore, quality should be queried as a separate point.

    The question is as follows:

How would you rate the quality of our product/service?

  • Value

    The customer has already thought about the quality of your offering and the fulfilling of his needs. This is the ideal time to ask him about the balance between price and performance, because now he can evaluate the price paid and the performance received for it.

    The question is as follows:

How do you rate / evaluate the relationship between price and performance of our product / service?

  • Availability

    The question of accessibility helps to assess satisfaction with the all-round service. It is of central importance in customer service and therefore well suited to the consumer's mind.

    The question is as follows:

How accessible were we for your questions and comments?

  • Permanent or new customer

    An interesting point for many marketing departments is the respondent is a first-time or returning customer. Then you can assess the question of satisfaction of both groups separately and also question and improve the customer acquisition strategies in a more targeted way.

    The question is as follows:

How long have you been / are you already a customer with us?

  • Loyalty

Customer loyalty is a decisive factor in attracting regular customers. These customers also want to be looked after and cared for. Therefore, to prevent customer churn it is good to dedicate a point to customer loyalty.

The question is as follows:

How likely is it that you will shop with us again?

  • Comments

    Not a question in the truest sense, but nevertheless not to be forgotten are comments of the customers surveyed. This can result in input that is totally new or which had not been taken into account in the survey.

    The question is as follows:

Do you have any further questions, comments or feedback for us?

With these ten questions you can tick off many important satisfaction factors and gain important feedback. However, if you are afraid of deterring or even scaring away your customers with too many questions, there is a good customer survey in mini format.

Example of a Customer Satisfaction Survey: Micro Survey with NPS®

One of the most important points to bear in mind when conducting a successful customer satisfaction survey is the question of willingness to recommend the business. Is it then possible to survey only this point?

That is precisely the point of so-called micro-surveys. They only focus on one question that the customer is required to answer and also gives them the opportunity to add their own comments. These micro-surveys have the great advantage that they are very simple, fast and cost very little effort on both sides. To get answers to the question just mentioned, we recommend the Net Promoter Score® (NPS®). This metric is obtained by using a scale of 0 to 10 and the classification of respondents into promoters, indifferents and detractors.

With the help of a sophisticated calculation, one obtains the NPS® and from this key figure a statement of customer satisfaction can then be derived. The comments submitted can also be evaluated and reused using special software, as positive feedback is far too useful to just hang on a “wall of fame”. Positive reviews can be used to publish authentic opinions about the company on online portals. This feedback attracts new buyers who use credible reviews to influence their own purchasing decision.

In 2020, Silence is Silver, Speech is Gold!

In any business, open, transparent communication with customers is essential to increase customer satisfaction. Among other things, customer surveys, which can be carried out in various ways in order to establish direct contact with consumers, also help. But no matter what type you choose, you should always make sure that you meet buyers on an equal footing when conducting customer surveys. This is how they feel taken seriously and you should convey that their honest opinion is important for the business. As a result, the company gains valuable information and credibility again – a factor that positively influences the buyer’s expectations.

All of this shows why it makes sense to regularly create customer surveys. But it's not just customer surveys that matter when it comes to meeting buyers' expectations. There are many other issues that play an equally important role. That is why we are dedicating our own articles to these different areas. This way, you can find your way around the wide field of customer satisfaction better and be able to read specifically the information that is of interest to you:


Susan Levermann

Content Marketing Manager