Content Marketing
7 Awkward Questions You Need to Ask Your Customers

7 Awkward Questions You Need to Ask Your Customers

August 17, 2017
5 min read

What’s the key to long-term business success? Customer satisfaction.

How do you know your customer base is satisfied? You have to ask them. Sounds simple enough.

“Hey, Mr. You-Just-Made-a-Purchase, satisfied?”


Another happy, satisfied customer. Back to business.

Not even close. This myopic view is where many brands get their customer feedback programs dead wrong. It is important to ask the right questions in order to get a multi-dimensional view of your buyers. You don’t just want to know if they like a product or service. Based on their cognitive, behavioral, and emotional tone of their responses, you want to get an understanding of their overall perception of what you’re selling and how well, or not, their needs are being met.

This means the quality of your questions matters much more than the quantity. In fact, most consumers are not interested in spending their precious time filling out your questionnaires and feedback surveys.  According to SurveyMonkey, once a customer begins answering a survey, the drop-off rate is dramatic with each additional question, particularly for the first 15 asked. This means you want to keep your surveys to a 10 question maximum. And to a five-minute maximum. Don’t expect a customer to spend more than a few minutes answering questions, even with a good incentive for filling out your questionnaire.

What Is the Goal of Your Customer Feedback Surveys?

Short, sweet and to the point. You need to make every question count. In fact, the best customer feedback questions will bear unique insights into the psychology behind how your customer base interacts with your brand.

When deciding what questions to ask you first need a very clear objective. What do you hope to achieve? What data are you after? What do you expect to understand about your customer base from the survey? Make sure the questions you ask offer up answers to the most fundamental questions about what makes your buyers tick:

  • Do they understand the benefits of your product or service, do they realize how it can improve their life/work/health?
  • Are they motivated to talk about your product with other people – are they passionate about your brand?
  • How do they feel about your product?
  • Do you have specific demographic data you need to gather, such as income range, age, or personal preferences?

With a clear picture of your intentions, it’s time to choose the penetrating questions that are going to dig up useful customer information to help you improve the customer experience and boost your retention rates.

The Questions You Should Be Asking

1. How frequently do you use our product?

A customer may like something. That doesn’t mean they care about it, are motivated in any way to use it, or have the least interest in letting a friend know how much they like it. Think of it this way. You like chocolate, right? (If you’re one of those vanilla people, just substitute in). So, you are probably generally satisfied with any company that sells chocolate. In fact, a chocolatier would have to whip up some really unsavory sweets to prompt you to say, ‘nope, not satisfied’.

When you ask how often a customer actually uses your product, you get a much deeper insight into how much they value it. If someone eats your particular chocolate product every day, it’s safe to say you’ve got a loyal customer on your hands. Someone who only buys your chocolate two or three times a year, on the other hand, may only purchase it because their favorite chocolate bar is out of stock, not because they are excited about your product.

2. What is the one most important benefit from our product/service?

The key here is in asking for what your customer perceives as the top benefit. Cognitively, do they know what your product or service’s strong points are? What does your brand expect the greatest benefit to be? Are the responses of your customers the same? If not, what can be done in your marketing to help better inform your customers about how they can benefit from buying from your brand?

3. Have you shared our news/updates/posts on social media before? If so, how many times and on what social media sites?

Here’s your customer engagement question that will gauge your buyers’ behavioral response to your product or service. It also provides insight into the likeliness that your customers are also your social media followers – a strong step on the path to iron-clad loyalty. The answer to this question will help you segment your buyers to determine what type of nurturing they need to either become more engaged or to feel rewarded and appreciated for their loyalty.

4. What’s your priority – reducing costs or increasing productivity?

This is a core question for B2B marketers. It’s a must on any general customer feedback survey as it will reveal how happy (or frustrated) your buyers are with industry pricing. The trick to this question is that increasing productivity is always a priority. B2B buyers traditionally value the quality of a product or service over price. When a high proportion of respondents choose ‘reducing costs’ as a priority, you’ve identified price as an emerging market pain point.

By lowering prices or offering a discount to existing customers on their next purchase or next subscription renewal, you’re more likely to keep the customers you have. On the other hand, not responding to this feedback through some type of price incentive could lead to a higher churn rate.

5. What could we do to help you meet your goals?

This is the, ‘how could we improve?’ question. It’s just framed differently. Of course, you want to know what issues your buyers have with your product or service. However, some customers are not going to jump at the chance to complain about a product (unless they are truly dissatisfied). It’s just part of our social conditioning. By focusing on their needs and objectives instead of your brand’s, you’re more likely to get an honest response. It also gives you more insight into your buyer personas and what is likely to motivate them. This information is customer nurturing gold.

6. Why did you choose us over our competitors?

A business is only as good as its competitive advantage. This question will reveal what your buyers perceive as the unique value of your brand. And more importantly, why they may be sticking with you. You may also find that some of your customers don’t perceive any strong distinguishing features with your brand. They may purchase your product or sign up for your service because you had a good promotional offer or because you were the first brand that showed up in their Google search (nice SEO work, by the way!). Use this information to determine if your marketing needs to focus more on your brand’s UVPs. It will also reveal what strengths you may want to highlight more to attract new customers.

7. Do you have any questions for us?

You may get a ‘no’ response here. That’s alright. This is where you can open up the lines of communication to uncover any individual issues your current customers may have.

When a customer does pose a question, be sure it’s answered promptly. Here’s your chance to impress your customers. Give them a taste of your brand authenticity. Meanwhile, you can leverage your survey as a tool for building brand loyalty in addition to getting the invaluable insights on your customers’ needs, perceptions, and expectations. Getting a direct response will make a customer feel valued by your brand. More importantly, they will walk away feeling like spending their time to answer your questions was five minutes well spent.

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Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula", and Founder of Marketing Insider Group. Recognized as a Top Content Marketing expert and Digital Marketing Leader, Michael leverages his experience from roles in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as his leadership in leading teams and driving growth for thriving startups. Today, Michael delivers empowering keynotes on marketing and leadership, and facilitates actionable workshops on content marketing strategy. Connect with Michael today.

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