How to write a customer satisfaction survey [Questions & Tips]

As a business, your customer’s satisfaction should be a priority. Your success depends on their happiness and loyalty, and a satisfied customer is one who will come back for more and encourage others to try your services too. So how do you know if your customer is satisfied or not? Ask them!

Sending out customer satisfaction surveys is the first step in gathering useful insights into customer behaviour and feedback. Let’s unpack that.

What is a customer satisfaction survey?

A customer satisfaction survey is a type of questionnaire used to understand what your customers think about your product, service, business, brand or any experience they’ve had with your business. Customer satisfaction surveys need to have a central focus point. You need to ask the right questions to get valuable answers out of your customers.

Why we need to understand customer satisfaction

88% of companies now say that customer experience is their priority, and not just a ‘nice to have’ status. Understanding your customer experience and finding out where their satisfaction lies will help you identify areas of improvement, as well as the areas that you’re doing well in.

A low level of customer satisfaction shows that you need to take immediate action in recreating and revamping your customer experience strategy. High levels of customer satisfaction indicate that your clientele is happy and are likely to remain loyal with your business. Satisfied customers are also more inclined to share their positive experiences with others, helping you boost customer retention while bringing in new business at the same time.

Let’s look at ways you can gather this information.

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Types of customer experience (CX) surveys

There are many different ways you can collect data about your customer experience. They may depend on your industry and what is feasible for you to carry out, and will also be connected to what you want to focus on. 3 common customer experience surveys include:

Customer Satisfaction Surveys (CSAT)

These typically contain a single question: How would you rate your overall satisfaction with the product/service you received? You then provide the customer with a scale of 1-5 to rate their satisfaction level, with 1 being ‘Very Unsatisfied’ and 5 being ‘Very Satisfied’.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Another good data collection method is your Net Promoter Score. This is a popular method of collecting customer experience and starts with one question: On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend our business/product/service to a friend, relative or colleague? As the question implies, customers are provided with a scale from 0 to 10 to rate their score, with 0 being ‘Not Likely At All’ and 10 being ‘Highly Likely’.

Customer Effort Score (CES)

This customer satisfaction metric measures the effort a customer needs to put in to complete an interaction or action with your business. This is a great way to break up the flow and understand what goes wrong in each step by asking ‘How easy was it to find what you were looking for?’ or ‘How easy was it to solve your problem?’. Customers are given a scale of 1 to 5 to rate their response with 1 being ‘Very Difficult’ and 5 being ‘Very Easy’.

Tips for designing your customer satisfaction survey

A successful survey is one that provides you with new customer data and actionable insights. A poor design could lead to misleading responses, vague results or worse - a lack of responses. Here are 6 important things to keep in mind when crafting your customer satisfaction survey:

  1. Define your purpose
    Determining the overall objectives of your survey will help you plan with what you want to do with the data you collect. Do you want to gain insight into a new product launch? Do you need to improve your checkout process? Narrowing down your focus will save you time in the long-run and will help you to yield the data that is valuable to you.

  2. Avoid personal questions
    You don’t want to pry into your customer’s personal lives by making them uncomfortable. Intimate questions will go unanswered and customers may choose to leave the survey altogether without finishing. Leave out offensive, embarrassing and inconsiderate questions. This includes security-sensitive questions too. For example, people may not want to disclose their exact monthly income but might feel comfortable ticking a box that asks for a broad range. Similarly, they may not want to share their postcode, but might be happier sharing their county or closest city.

  3. Make it mobile-friendly
    An increasing number of customers are completing surveys on their mobile devices today, and the trend is only rising. Make sure your survey is mobile-optimised and works fully on smaller devices. Customers will be able to easily access the survey on the go, anytime and anywhere, which boosts your chances of completion; the more people who answer, the more data you'll have.

  4. Keep it short
    Start with telling the customer how long the survey will take so they know what to expect, and keep it ten questions or less. Focus on the areas that are important to you, while keeping your questions simple and to the point. The longer the survey, the more likely your respondent will drop out due to survey fatigue.

  5. Use simple language
    On the subject of survey fatigue, this can also be caused by using complicated industry jargon that customers don't understand. You don’t want to confuse the respondent and end up with vague or incomplete answers. Make it conversational and use terms that a layperson would understand easily.

  6. Leave room for more feedback
    While it's important to ask direct questions for yes/no or definitive answers, it's equally important to ask customers why they gave that response. This helps you uncover reasons for their feedback and gives you the details and context that you would have otherwise missed out on.

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Timing your customer satisfaction survey

Timing is vital when it comes to gaining valuable feedback from your customer. The experience needs to be fresh in their mind, and they should be in the right temperament to provide you with answers that are useful. Try to stick to a 24-hour window, so you catch your customers reaction while it’s fresh and (hopefully) once they’ve used your product.

You can also set up surveys at different touchpoints, depending on what you want to learn. For example, your customer service team should follow up with every query they receive to find out if the customer received the assistance they were looking for. If you have launched a new service or app, ask the customer to rate their experience once they have used the new service - this can be as simple as a 1-5 star rating.

Surveys can be sent through email, webchat, social media, phone calls and even face-to-face, so use the outlet that best suits your business and your customer. You’re the one who needs something from your clients, so your customer’s convenience should be placed before your own.

Questions to ask your customers

Apart from the single questions listed above, there are different techniques you can use to frame the enquiries and get the results you are looking for. Use additional questions to accompany your main query in a bid to guide the answers to be informative and valuable. A customer has no incentive to provide you with constructive criticism, so asking the right questions to get the right answers is your responsibility as a business.

Here are a few points to keep in mind when framing questions for your customer satisfaction survey.

Frequency of usage

Asking your customer how often they use your product or service, or how often they would come back to your business, will give you an idea if it is successful in keeping them satisfied and with what timeline. Some questions to ask include:

  • How often do you use our product?
  • When will you come back to our brand next?
  • Would you sign up to a monthly subscription of our product?
  • When you think of this industry, how often does our brand come first to your mind?

Feature-specific usage

Another way to go about looking for insights about the usage of your product is to ask your customer how useful it is in meeting their goals. You can also highlight specific functions or features you want to know more about. Some questions for this purpose are:

  • Did this product meet your goals?
  • Did you enjoy the new LED feature on our product?
  • What is your favourite part of our service?

Use multiple choice

When in doubt, it's quicker and easier to have all the answers in front of you to pick from. Multiple choice questions limit the answers a respondent can give, and allow you with the opportunity to guide them into a narrower selection you want to focus on. Rather than asking them to tell you which is their favourite feature, you can ask them to choose from your top least performing ones and use the data to see where you can improve.

Provide an ‘additional feedback’ box

An open-text feedback box with an open-ended question leaves room for the customer to be creative and express their feelings with no restriction. This is a great tool for gathering additional ideas and think of opportunities you wouldn’t have come across otherwise. Open-ended questions allow you to see things from the customer’s perspective and add quality to your quantitative data.

Instead of ‘Did you like our service?’ try asking ‘Tell us what you liked or disliked about our service.’

You can also ask your customers to share any additional feedback or comments in the box, without guiding them towards any topic. Analysing open-ended feedback can be time-consuming, but it's important to understand the views of as many of your customers as possible.

Ask about their demographics


Thinking about your customer demographics is an essential part of building a buyer persona. They help you segment your audience so you can target any marketing and sales strategies accordingly. Group your buyers according to similar characteristics by asking them some of the below questions:

  • How old are you? (You could also use age ranges)
  • What is your marital status?
  • Do you have any children or dependents?
  • What is your highest level of education?

You may want to make these questions optional so as not to touch upon their personal lives too much.

Give them next steps and follow-up options

In the last section of your customer satisfaction survey, you may want to plan for longevity. Ask your customer if they’re happy for you to follow up with them regarding their survey responses. Find out if they would like to take the survey again after you action some changes (in 3, 6 or 12 months time, for example). This will give you points to work on, and show the customer that you value their feedback. It also gives you the opportunity for a future touchpoint.

How to action insights from your customer satisfaction survey

Now that you’ve spent all this time and energy on collating customer feedback from surveys, you need to put them into an action plan. What you do with your data is just as important as how you collect it, and here’s how you can make the most of it:

  1. Analyse the results
    Look for trends within the responses to see what problems come up the most. This gives you areas of immediate focus.
  2. Close the feedback loop
    Too many negative scores? That’s fine. Respond to the most common grievances as soon as possible for a chance to gain their trust next time.
  3. Convert them
    Unsatisfied customers can easily be converted into satisfied ones by focusing on areas that they’re unhappy with. Use tactics like discount codes and free delivery to ask them for a second chance where you provide them with a service that solves all the issues they had in the first place.

Customer reviews and customer satisfaction surveys

Gathering results from customer satisfaction surveys is great! But, if you use customer reviews as the first step in gathering the feedback, creating a successful and targeted customer satisfaction survey will be easier and even more effective. Look through reviews from your customers to get an idea of what kind of questions to put in your customer satisfaction survey, and what you want to find out details of. One good way of doing this is with a sentiment analysis of your customer reviews.

So now that you know the ins and outs of creating a customer satisfaction survey, you’re ready to get started. When possible, try to compare the data you receive from your surveys to your competitors. Benchmarking against industry standards will help you gain a comprehensive overview of where you stand and focus areas to improve on right away.

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