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Satisfaction Guaranteed?

A ‘just’ satisfied customer isn’t really good enough, only delighted ones will spread the words that encourage others to have the same experience.  So how do you know what your customers really want?  What do they really think of your offer?   What problems might they have had that need fixing?

The best way to find out, of course, is to ask them!

When you conduct a customer satisfaction survey, the types of questions you ask are really important. How you ask, when you ask and how often you ask are important too. 

Planning the research questionnaire

  • Set SMART objectives for your research project.  You need to be specific about what information you wish to collect, it needs to be measurable, you need to know what you want to achieve, and you need to be able to record it in a time based period
  • Make sure you have a record of information you already know about.  Don’t ask for that again instead think about the information coverage you do require
  • The simpler the questions the more accurate they are likely to be
  • Use desk research methods for collecting information about your client base that you already know.  How much they buy, how often, when, their geographical location, conversion rates etc.
  • It takes time, money, effort and thought to put together a questionnaire that will bring in information you can do something with

Rules of Questionnaire Design

You can do this primary research in three ways:

  1. Face-to-face, as they are about to leave your store or office or call into them when you are in the area.
  2. Call them on the phone, if you have their phone number, and their permission, you can make an after sales service call and ask how satisfied they are.
  3. You can mail them a questionnaire or give them a weblink to respond to.



The way the interview is carried out will make a difference to the validity of some answers. For example people may be happier to be honest if they know the interviewer is not related to the company.

The questionnaire needs to look simple and easy to complete.  The visual appearance is important.  Keep to one page if possible.

Ensure you have a suitable introduction to put the questionnaire into perspective.  Check the order of the questions.  Start with some simple structured questions to ease the recipient in.  Choose and vary the types of questions to get the information to make the decisions you want to and therefore consider the possible answers.   


Consider how the data will be processed once it has been collected.  The most important part of the customer satisfaction survey is what you do with the answers.

You might be looking for trends or differences in geographical areas, or age groups or activities.  If something comes up regularly as a complaint, you need to do further investigation to identify if and/or how to correct it. You should feedback to those who have taken the trouble to complete your questionnaire. They need to know that you have considered their opinion and how you are planning to fix the things they have identified or why you won’t be taking further action, if that it’s the case.

And there you were thinking this was a yes/no answer!

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