But I thought it would be helpful (and fun) to see a real example of these concepts in action.
Today, I’ll share a story from a friend and Groove customer, Kyle Racki of Proposify, about how he handled a situation with an angry customer on Twitter.
As we all know, in the early days of a startup, product issues do happen, and they happen often. You’re focused on making the product better, but especially at the start with your resources spread thin, this is an uphill climb.
In everything from logistics to leadership and marketing, Disney is looked at as a model business for others to learn from and emulate.
In fact, businesses pay many thousands of dollars to send their employees to the Disney Institute to learn the company’s insights.
And with more than 135 million people passing through the company’s parks and resorts each year, Disney has perfected the art of customer service recovery to create happy and loyal customers.
Their approach to service recovery is a five-step process, easily remembered with the acronym H.E.A.R.D:
Let the customer tell their entire story without interruption. Often when we’re upset, we just need someone to listen.
Empathy is one of the most critical customer service skills you can possess. It’s the ability to deeply understand the thoughts and emotions of your customer, and making sure that they know that, too.
You can use phrases like “I’d be upset too” or “I can see why you’d be frustrated.”
As long as it’s sincere, you can’t apologize enough for screwups.
In one study at the Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, 37% of customers were satisfied with service recovery when they were offered something of monetary value (e.g., a refund or credit). But when the business added an apology on top of the compensation, satisfaction doubled to 74%.
The Value of An Apology
Resolve the issue quickly. This can only be done if your employees have the authority to do what it takes in terms of compensation, so make sure you’re empowering your team to act.
If you’re not sure exactly what sort of compensation or resolution would be appropriate, ask the customer:
What can I do to make this right?
By showing an eagerness to do right by them, you can begin to bridge the gap between your customer’s dissatisfied state and where you want them to be.
Once the customer is satisfied, get to the bottom of why the mistake occurred, without blaming anyone:
Seek perfection, settle for excellence. Remove any personal guilt and examine the processes related to the service failure. Returning customers will appreciate your efforts to improve the experience.
The Disney Institute
The H.E.A.R.D. approach sounds great in principle, but would it really work in a situation where you have an angry customer sitting behind their computer ready to blast you on social media?
An Angry Tweet Comes In…
Early in 2015, Proposify, a SaaS company whose product helps people put together super-polished proposals, got a Tweet from a less-than-pleased customer.
The customer certainly had a legitimate complaint, and their frustration caused them to package the complaint in a sarcastic Tweet.
At this point, the Proposify team had a few options:
Defend themselves (Don’t do this. It only makes you look bad.)
Try to resolve the issue.
Here’s what they went with:
Was their response perfect?
Some might not think so.
The “just looking to publicly shame us?” bit could come off as a bit passive-aggressive to some.
But here’s what’s important:
The response included an apology.
The response offered help.
And the response was authentic.
The last point is important; not every company’s tone has to be all smiley faces and sunshine, and you don’t have to be a pushover to deliver great support.
Proposify is a company with a personality, and they weren’t afraid to show it here. The customer’s Tweet was a bit snippy, and Proposify responded in kind.
But it wasn’t a Twitter fight that Kyle and his team wanted.
That’s why immediately after responding, he reached out to the customer directly…
Reaching Out via Email
Kyle sent the customer a note to follow up:
While the execution of the Tweet can be debated, there’s no question that Kyle’s email is excellent on all fronts.
Let’s break it down:
Here, Kyle does something really important: instead of making assumptions about what the customer meant, he asked for clarification. It’s an obvious but underused tactic in a world where many support departments are focusing on first-contact resolution, leading to scrambles to try to answer questions that agents don’t even understand.
And importantly, Kyle offers to help resolve the issue once the question is clarified.
Kyle also stays positive, and compliments the customer’s ideas. Note that he doesn’t necessarily promise to add the feature (a promise we can’t always make right away), but he still gives credit for good suggestions.
… Kyle does a great job in explaining why a particular feature doesn’t work the way the customer wants it to, rather than simply telling the customer that it doesn’t work.
This is important; people respond to story, and sharing how the issue was a struggle for the team likely went a long way in making the customer empathize with the business and be more understanding of the issue.
Next, Kyle apologizes:
Again, notice that while Kyle is eagerly helping the customer solve the issue, his tone firmly makes it clear that the way the customer voiced their concern isn’t the most effective way to get help from Proposify.
This was a very smart, above-and-beyond move. Kyle didn’t need to offer a refund, and the customer never asked for one.
The offer was a textbook move for excellent customer service, and explained well by Fog Creek Software (makers of Trello):
We don't want your money if you're not amazingly happy.
The Fog Creek Promise
The refund is not necessarily because the customer’s issue demands it, but because it demonstrates a commitment to making things right, and to delivering an amazing experience.
It’s a move that shows that Proposify values their long-term relationship with the customer far more than that month’s bill.
Kyle ends by continuing to build rapport with the customer.
We’re a lot less likely to stay angry at people that we know and like, and building rapport is a great way to get your customers to know and like you.
So, What Happened?
Soon after, Kyle got this response:
This response speaks for itself, but it’s truly amazing: the situation was completely diffused, the customer was sold on the resolution, and they even apologized for their initial Tweet.
And a bit later on, the customer even followed up via Twitter:
How Will You Respond to the Next Angry Tweet?
I hope that this example shows you that it’s not that difficult to turn an angry social media complaint into a better relationship with the upset customer.
Even if Proposify's response did not fall withing Disney's approach squarely, the team still addressed the issue right by taking the following steps:
Be clear and genuine in your resolution of the problem
Go above and beyond
Kudos to Kyle and his team for their handling of this challenging situation.
Have you had to deal with angry customer complaints on social media? Let me know how you handled it (and how it went) in the comments!
Editor’s note: This post has been updated for accuracy and freshness. The original version first appeared on the Groove blog on October 7, 2014.
What comes to mind when you think of the word upsell?
For many of us, it might bring up images of sleazy salespeople trying to line their pockets by selling us extra stuff we don’t need.
And, unfortunately, sometimes that does happen.
Anyone who’s spent time buying a car from a dealership can attest to that.
(I once had a dealer try to sell me an $85 car wash on a brand new car. I wish I was joking.)
But when used properly, upselling can actually bring you closer to your customers, while bringing you more revenue, better retention and lower churn.
3 Reasons Why “Upsell” Isn’t a Dirty Word
Note: often, people use the term “upselling” when what they really mean is “cross-selling.”
A quick explanation of the differences:
Upsell vs. Cross-sell
The definition of upselling is selling a more expensive version of a product that the customer already has (or is buying), or to add extra features or add-ons to that product. If I’m buying a 27” TV and the salesperson offers me a 32” TV or an extended warranty, that’s an upsell.
The meaning of cross-selling is selling products that are different—but possibly related—to the product the customer already has (or is buying). If I’m buying a TV and the salesperson offers me a Roku or Playstation, that’s a cross-sell.
Both methods are useful, and both essentially do the same thing: help the customer get more value from your business, and help your business get more loyalty and revenue from the customer.
For the purposes of this post, I’m going to use the terms interchangeably.
Let’s look at the three biggest benefits of upselling and cross-selling.
1) When Done Right, Upselling Builds Deeper Relationships With Your Customers
Sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer puts upselling into perspective when he describes it as helping your customers win.
A reader asked Jeffrey for advice on how they could upsell him on a credit card product that was more expensive (and more valuable) than the one he currently used.
His simple response?
Tell me how I win. When I win, you win.
If you can make your customer feel like an upsell is helping them win, then you’ll both win.
Here’s another example: a few months ago, I checked into a hotel on a weekend trip with my wife. As we were checking in, the clerk offered me an upsell: would I like to add breakfast for two — normally $49 — to my room rate for “just” $29?
I accepted without hesitation, and I was happy to do so. At $20 cheaper than the standard rate, I felt like taking the upsell offer was an easy win.
From the hotel’s perspective, they upsold me on additional services that I otherwise would not have purchased, made extra profit, and built a deeper relationship with me, as that breakfast is one more opportunity that they’ll get to serve me.
A clear win for them, too.
Takeaway: Upselling isn’t just a sales tactic; it’s a customer happiness tactic that can help you build deeper relationships with customers by delivering more value.
2) Upselling Is Easier Than Selling to New Customers, and It Helps You Grow
In the book Marketing Metrics, the authors share a fascinating finding from their research:
The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%. The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%.
That’s a big gap.
But when we think about it, it really shouldn’t surprise us.
Wouldn’t we much rather buy from a company we already trust than one we’ve never done business with before?
Not only is upselling easier than selling to a customer for the first time, but it can help you grow faster.
As entrepreneur Joel York explains, as long as the cost of upselling is low (it usually is), “SaaS companies can accelerate time to profit by upselling and upgrading current customers,”
So many SaaS and eCommerce companies focus all of our efforts on getting new customers, when an even bigger opportunity often lies untouched in front of us: making our existing customers happy and selling more to them.
Takeaway: Upsells are an easy win for growing your bottom line and accelerating your path to profit.
3) Upselling Increases Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
After providing GEICO with my location and arranging to wait for the tow truck, the GEICO dispatcher told me, “From looking at your account, it looks like you’re now eligible for a big discount on our comprehensive coverage. Since you’re going to be waiting for the tow truck anyways, would you like to hear more?”
15 minutes later, I had agreed to add $1 million in additional coverage for my car and home, at a cost of right around $100 per year.
I’ve been a GEICO customer for 16 years already, so it’s not much of a stretch to speculate that I might be a customer for another 20 years. That means that GEICO turned a costly customer service call into an incremental $2,000 in lifetime revenue.
I’m not gonna say it…
I’m not gonna say it…
I’m not gonna say it…
When it comes to increasing CLV, 15 minutes could earn you 15% or more on car insurance, or whatever it is that your business sells.
Takeaway: Each upsell can increase the lifetime value of your loyal customers, paying off for many years down the line.
4 Examples of SaaS and eCommerce Upsells to Study and Try
There are lots of upselling techniques out there, and the right ones to use depend on your business and your customers. To give you some ideas, check out these four awesome upsell examples from SaaS and eCommerce companies that you can try for yourself.
1) Upsell In-App
When you approach the end of your available storage space in Dropbox, you’re prompted to upgrade each time you check the amount of available space in the app. And when your Dropbox is full, you can upgrade right in the app:
Offering the upsell within the app — at a relevant time and place — helps customers know and remember that a solution is readily available when their problem appears.
Takeaway: In-app upsells, as long as they make it clear why the customer will win by taking them, can be an effective way to not only increase revenue, but engagement, too.
2) Upsell in the Shopping Cart
This is, by far, the most commonly used method of upselling in eCommerce. But there are good and bad ways to do this.
When you order flowers from 1-800-Flowers, you’ll get some simple upsells that are relevant and can help you send a better gift. For example, I get offered the option to add candy, balloons or a teddy bear:
As a customer, I appreciate that I can upgrade my purchase.
Compare that to the all-over-the-place upsell parade that GoDaddy throws at you when you buy a domain name. As conversion expert Neil Patel explains:
They could drastically increase their conversion rate if they offered upsells that were more related to the product you just purchased. For example, I added a domain name to my checkout, and they offered me this product in the picture below.
Why would they offer you a website seal when chances are you don’t even have hosting, a website or even web traffic? I don’t know about you, but I’ve never built a website before I acquired a domain name.
Takeaway: The point of purchase is the most common upsell point for a reason: it works. Customers are in “buying” mode with their credit cards out, and ready to do business with you.
3) Upsell in Your Customer Support Interactions
Before we killed our Live Chat app, we offered it as a way to help stem the flow of emails for customers who got too many messages. It was an upsell that was popular with our customers because it helped them solve a problem that they were contacting us about, and added additional value on top of that (by helping them offer additional convenience to their customers).
Now, of course, we offer one of our partner chat apps, but the value proposition for the customer remains much the same.
Takeaway: By offering an upsell that can help solve your customer’s support issue, you can help them, and your business, win. Note: upsells should never replace support, as in: if you can solve the problem without an upsell, do it.
4) Upsell After a Customer Success Milestone
Another popular and effective time to upsell your customers is when they’ve achieved a milestone in doing business with you, like:
Being a customer for a year
Spending a certain number of hours in your app
Accomplishing a certain number of tasks in your product
Logging in a certain number of times
Installing particular integrations or add-ons
Use these events as opportunities to remind your customers about the value they’re getting from doing business with you, and think about how you can upsell them now to take things even further.
Ramit Sethi sells online courses for people looking to succeed in their careers, personal finance, online business and productivity. With multiple courses, he has a lot of opportunities for value-add cross-sells.
One of the ways he delivers these offers is immediately after a customer success milestone.
Once a customer completes one of Ramit’s courses, they might receive an email that looks like this:
In it, Ramit offers an upsell — with a free month-long trial — to his membership program. It comes at an opportune time: when the customer is feeling good about the success they’ve achieved.
Takeaway: Target your customers for upsells when they hit customer success milestones, and when the value of your product is most apparent.
The 2 Rules of Upselling
There are two rules to remember about upselling your customers:
1) Make sure they’re happy with the service and experienced you’ve delivered to them. NEVER sell to an angry, upset or disappointed customer.
There are a couple of useful options for singling out customers who are happy.
You can use labels in your help desk software (we use Groove, for obvious reasons) to tag customers who are “fans.” That way, when a fan emails you and you sense an opportunity for an upsell, you’ll already know that they might be open to it.
Another equally effective way—we use both—to identify happy customers is with Net Promoter Scores, one of the most important customer service metrics.
The Net Promoter Score Survey, sent to your customers regularly (you can use an app like Promoter.io that does this for you), asks two simple questions:
Results from the first question tell us how many of our customers are promoters (those who respond with a 9 or 10), passives (7 or 8) and detractors (0 to 6) of Groove. Results from the second question tell us why.
While this data can help you make better decisions on a number of fronts, knowing who your promoters are is especially helpful for knowing who to target your upsell offers to.
2) Focus your upsell pitch on how the customer wins.
Remember how upselling works best when you tell the customer how they win?
Here’s that quote from Jeffrey Gitomer again:
Tell me how I win. When I win, you win.
While this is great advice for any sales, focusing on how you’re helping the existing customer win even more is absolutely critical for upselling without being pushy.
In Chris Yeh’s Geico example above, notice how the support agent framed the pitch very clearly around how Chris can win:
From looking at your account, it looks like you’re now eligible for a big discount on our comprehensive coverage. Since you’re going to be waiting for the tow truck anyways, would you like to hear more?
The agent could have started with “would you like to hear about our comprehensive coverage?” But THAT would be pushy.
Instead, the focus is on Chris’ big discount, not on Geico’s product. They told Chris how he wins, and that made things interesting for him.
Takeaway: Think about the products and services you might upsell your customers on, and then think about how those products help them win. Hint: nobody cares about your product. They care about their problems. Showing them how you can solve those problems is the key to upselling successfully.
Upgrade Your Business With Upsells
If you’ve been hurt by years of terrible upsells, then it’s understandable that you might be hesitant to try and use them yourself.
But hopefully this post has showed you that upsells can be honest, honorable and valuable in growing your business, and they don’t have to be pushy or sleazy.
Upselling is a valuable skill for anyone delivering customer service, because it can help you achieve your number one goal: make your customers happier and more successful.
Have you used or seen any great upselling tactics that I missed, or are you struggling with thinking about how to offer upsells in your own business? Let me know in the comments below.
If you’re selling a commodity, you need to make yourself stand out. In addition to a great product at an affordable price, the consumer requires excellent customer service and nothing less.
What happens if you don’t offer that one massively differentiating thing? Well, your customers (all of them) have a choice:
They can choose to do nothing at all.
They can choose to do business with you.
Or they can choose one of your competitors.
These days, people will only stay loyal to a company if they have very good reason to. Price point is usually the first thing companies think about when it comes to comparing themselves to competitors.
However, competing solely on price is a great way to kill your margins and put your business at risk. A larger competitor can easily drop their prices lower than yours—and when there is a race to the bottom, nobody wins.
If you and a competitor have the same product at roughly the same price, the only differentiating factor between you is how good your customer service is.
If yours is less-than-amazing, or even just slightly subpar compared to someone else’s… well, good luck standing out.
Which is why you need to work hard to provide the best in customer service.
That one added delightful aspect of your company will increase trust and could mean the difference between customer loyalty and customers who leave.
Better Customer Service = More Money
Every company is—on a basic level—out to make money. No business can survive without it.
Customer experience is the easiest win you can get that will instantly set you apart from your competitors and let you charge higher prices. It matters more than price.
It’s not a fluke; American Express found a similar result in their 2011 Customer Service Survey, with 70% of Americans willing to spend an average of 13% more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service.
And it’s not only about more money that comes with amazing customer service—it’s about actually losing money if you leave that part of your business without enough attention.
As reported by Smart Customer Service, U.S. brands are losing approximately $41 billion each year due to poor customer service.
In other words, if you’re not providing satisfactory service to your customers, you’re ultimately losing a ton of money. If you are, your assets will increase.
Great Customer Service = Great Publicity
Happy customers are a lot more likely to tell their friends—on average, happy customers tell nine people about their experiences with a company.
There’s a dark side of the moon here, too.
Because while happy customers might tell nine friends, unhappy customers, on average, tell sixteen.
That’s sixteen “anti-referrals” for every upset customer.
That’s a big price to pay for a bad customer experience.
Putting customer service first means you can make sure that a lot of these less-than-great interactions don’t even end up happening in the first place.
On the other side, amazing customer service can be an awesome, natural source of promotion your company.
If you want referrals through word of mouth and great online reviews, focus on making your customers happy. As research shows, the reward can be exponential.
A Great Service Culture Prevents Employee Turnover
Wait, what? What does this have to do with good customer service and how bad service can cost you your entire business?
Most employees, including front-line service employees, want to take pride in what they do, and need to feel like their field of work and position in the company’s bottom line is valued.
Shep Hyken, one of the main opinion leaders in the customer service area, sums it up nicely:
The reason an organization can deliver good or bad customer service comes down to one thing; what is happening on the inside of that organization. To sum it up in one word: culture.
The thing about customer service culture is that if you don’t cultivate it, it’ll affect your customers as well as the employees who are working their asses off on the front line.
If your customer service reps aren’t happy because you don’t care about the quality of service across the whole company, they’ll be less passionate about their job, making the customer’s experience even worse.
And eventually… they’ll quit.
Creating a positive, customer-focused environment along with a strongly established customer service culture across your entire team is key.
If your service levels are up to par, your hires will stick around.
Customer Service Helps You Improve
Through your support, your customers are constantly actively telling you how they want your product to work or where you could improve. The real issues, requests and feedback. Straight from the horse’s mouth.
Unfortunately, it’s not always taken as seriously as it should be. It’s a problem a lot of companies deal with: teams that are removed from the front lines of support don’t take customer feedback seriously until things get bad.
However, working actively to get your team to start seeing customer feedback as the awesome, straight-forward resource that it is as well as actually acting on it starts with building a company culture that embraces and values all customer feedback.
The more your customers learn to trust that you take their feedback seriously and actually act on it, the more they will open up to you about what they like, don’t like, or need. And the less likely they will be to leave you for a competitor that doesn’t care as much.
The simplest customer service frustration question of all: “Why isn’t this as important to you as it is to me?”
We’ve all been there, whether it’s in a customer support setting or an argument with a friend or family member: it doesn’t feel good to talk to someone when you don’t think the person “gets” why you’re mad, upset or disappointed.
There are plenty of tough customer service scenarios waiting to happen, and while mastering empathy in customer service might feel overwhelming at first, it becomes easier and easier as you work on it—just as with any skill.
Even if you didn’t do anything wrong, you can still be genuinely sorry about the way the customer feels. Let them know that.
3) “I’d Be Happy to Help You With This.”
Researchers Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman, in their book Words Can Change Your Brain, found that using—and hearing—positive words can actually change the way we see reality.
Simply by using positive words, you can make your customers (and yourself) feel more positive.
In a world where 95% of customers have taken action (e.g. abandoned a business or complained about it to others) because of a negative customer experience, a simple tactic like adding more positive power words to your support interactions can make a big difference.
So when a customer emails you about an issue that they’re having, instead of responding with “I’ll look into this for you,” tell them that you’d be happy to help.
Using the power of positive words in customer service is a psychological trick that is easy to implement while still helping your customers have more positive experiences—both in the moment and over the long-term course of your relationship with them.
4) “I’ll Send You an Update by [Day or Time].”
If a customer sends an email “checking in” on the status of their support request, we consider that a failure on our part.
In testing at Groove, we’ve found that customers who proactively reach out to us report satisfaction scores, on average, about 10% lower than customers who don’t inquire.
The two things that we do to avoid check-ins are:
1. Make sure that we proactively keep the customer posted as often as possible (at least once per day).
2. Let the customer know exactly when they should expect to hear from us.
While you can’t always promise a solution by a given time, you can always promise an update.
Delivering on that promise doesn’t just keep the customer informed about the status of their request, but it’s another opportunity to build trust and let them know that you truly understand and care about the inconvenience they’re experiencing.
5) “I Really Appreciate You Letting Us Know.”
According to a survey by Lee Resources International, for every customer who complains, there are 26 customers who don’t say anything at all.
Each customer complaint could mean that dozens of other customers are having the same problem and not letting you know.
That means that resolving the problem for a single customer could make dozens of other customers happier at the same time.
“In our interpersonal relations we should never forget that all our associates are human beings and hunger for appreciation. It is the legal tender that all souls enjoy.”
Simply saying “thank you” to a customer is a powerful way to strengthen your relationship with them.
Receiving gratitude doesn’t just change the way we think and feel; it changes the way we behave for the better.
Did they give you feedback? Say “thank you”. Did they report a bug? Say “thank you”. Did they complain about something? Say “thank you”.
Make sure your customer knows how much you appreciate their email, no matter what the tone or contents of it are.
6) “Is There Anything Else I Can Help You With?”
Despite our best efforts and intentions, we don’t always get it right.
In fact, one survey suggests that although 94% of online retailers provide email customer service, 27% of email inquiries are answered incorrectly.
The fact is that there are times that our answers don’t end up being helpful. The problem is that research shows us that most people won’t speak up about problems.
So, if your reply isn’t helpful, some customers won’t proactively ask you to clarify or help any further.
That’s what makes this one of the most helpful customer service phrases you can use. By leaving the door open and inviting the customer to respond, you’ll give them a chance to let you know if anything remains unresolved.
Add These Customer Service Phrases to Your Support Vocabulary
Incorporating these keywords and phrases into your customer service interactions is an instant win; it’ll take no time to do, and will reward you with happier, more loyal customers.
Constantly discussing and improving on what you want your phrasing, voice and tone to be like means that it’ll start becoming second nature for everyone in your company, not just customer support.
Are there any phrases you’ve found to be “silver bullets” for making customers happier? Or are there any commonly used ones that instantly make you cringe?
Optimize your customer surveys to create real value.
The best way to improve your product or service is to base the ongoing action plan on what your customers really want and need.
One of the best ways to gather a lot of constructive feedback and information relatively fast is through customer surveys.
However, putting together a great survey isn’t an easy task.
Figuring out the right questions to ask is just one small part of creating an actually useful survey—much more thought should go into the right way of asking these questions.
Today, we’re going to talk about 5 tactics for making sure that your customer surveys not only create actual value for your company, but are also painless—not to say fun—to fill out for your customers.
Keep It Short
Superfluous text is the death of any content, but especially dangerous when it comes to surveys.
Remember—spending time out of their day on filling out your survey is not something your customers have to do.
It’s something they’ve decided to do for you as a favor on their behalf. Don’t make them regret it by wasting time.
There’s two main sides to keeping your surveys short and sweet:
Finding the most clear and concise way to ask specific questions
Keeping the survey itself as short as you possibly can
First of all—surveys are not the place to practice your novel writing skills. Nobody has the time nor patience to decipher their way through walls of text.
Ask simple questions that are phrased and structured clearly, using the smallest amount of words you can, and most importantly—ask one question at a time.
Piling multiple thinking and answer points into one question breaks the respondent’s concentration and most likely ends with a half-assed answer that flutters around several aspects without getting into actual detail about any of them.
For example, instead of this chain of events in one question…:
Are you satisfied with our service? If not, why? What could we do better? What do you like about it?
…break it down into individual questions to make it easier to concentrate on one thing at a time.
And secondly, the length of the survey itself—people are busy, and unless they’re getting paid for it, nobody wants to sit through a survey that takes them more than 10 minutes to finish.
Which brings us to the next point…
Chop Out The Unnecessary
A ton of filler questions will get you nothing but a high abandonment rate on your surveys.
You need to be an absolute savage when it comes to choosing which questions to keep in order to keep the respondent's’ attention.
With every single question you want to add, think about these points:
Does this question have a strong reason for being in this survey?
Is it tied very closely to the topic of this survey?
Is it background information/other noise that I don’t actually need to know?
Is it something that is going to actually help me analyze the survey results and make any useful conclusions?
Do not fall into the “might as well add this” pit of unnecessary questions that have nothing to do with the actual purpose of your survey.
For example, a lot of customer surveys start with a ton of background questions like this:
Do you need to know your customers’ names? Where they found your product or service? What they do in their company? What their cat’s name is? No? Then don’t add them.
This goes for any other type of question you might feel tempted to add in “just because”. Think long and hard about which information you actually need and don’t clutter your survey with fillers.
Don’t Assume Anything
Unless you’re dealing with a very, very heavily targeted survey that only includes people who you’re 100% sure are very knowledgeable about everything you’re about to ask, it’s always safer to not make any assumptions.
The two main assumptions to avoid are:
Assuming your customer is familiar with the industry
Assuming your customer is psychic and knows exactly what you want when it comes to your questions
First of all, don’t use any advanced terminologies or industry-related jargon even if it makes sense to you. This might be the first time ever your customer has seen any of this information or heard any of the terms. Make it simple.
Secondly, don’t assume that your customers will magically behave how you want them to. You know what you ultimately want out of these responses. They don’t.
If you want them to clarify something, add actual examples, explain their answers, whatnot, you need to ask them to do it.
Instead of something like this…:
Are you generally satisfied with the quality of our service?
…go more into detail about what you’re looking for in the answer:
Are you generally satisfied with the quality of our service? If not, please explain what your biggest pain points are.
A lot of customers are actually perfectly happy to go into detail or explain their points further—sometimes they just need a little nudge to know that you actually want them to.
Make Use Of Different Question Types
It might be tempting to just make every single question a yes/no or a simple multiple choice one because it’s what we’re all most familiar with, but there are so many options to choose from. For example, these are all the choices in Typeform:
There’s a best option for every specific question, and you should think through which of them makes most sense while being the most convenient.
Which questions you might want to “help” your customers answer with a straightforward yes/no or closed multiple choice answer
Which questions you’d rather have more open-ended to allow your customers to really speak their mind in whatever form they wish
Which questions best suit a rating scale
…and so on.
Besides the simpler question types, a lot of online survey building tools have options for creating logic jumps, conditional questions depending on previous answers, etc.
In the end, it is the varying types of questions that determine what kind of information is collected and what you can do with it going forward.
So, take your sweet time considering which questions to use, when to use them, and how you’ll be processing the collected information later.
Ask For Constructive Criticism
Regardless of what your survey is intended to achieve, the one “general” question always worth throwing in (usually at the end of the survey) is an open-ended question about how you can improve.
There are several ways to phrase this based on your product/service/area:
What features would you like us to build next?
Is there something you feel our product is lacking?
Are you satisfied with our service in general?
What has been your biggest challenge using our product/service?
However you choose to word the self-improvement bit of your survey, it makes for a great ending question.
Your customer will be leaving knowing that you genuinely care about improving based on their feedback, and you can gather any possible nuggets of wisdom that your customers might have on their mind at any given time—win-win.
Ask The Right Customer Survey Questions The Right Way
The only way to really improve your business is to find out who your customers are and what they really want and need, and customer surveys are a great way to access that information.
Creating a truly valuable customer survey isn’t an easy task, but it’s worth it.
If you put in the effort to make your questions result-focused, clear and concise, you’ll be gathering tons of information that can help you drive your plans in the right direction.
How often do you use customer surveys? What are your tips for making them awesome? Let us know in the comments!