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A Simple Customer Satisfaction Survey

Two questions guaranteed to help your bottom line.

I LOVE questions. As a marketing researcher, a value-add I bring frequently to clients is to help them figure out what makes customers tick – what makes customers happy, and what makes them buy more of my clients’ products and services.

One thing that absolutely, positively does NOT make customers happy? Long, boring and repetitive customer satisfaction surveys.

I have been guilty, and have seen other researchers be similarly blameworthy, of asking WAY too many questions in the typical customer survey. I have seen customer satisfaction surveys stretched to over 100 questions, which can tax the goodwill and satisfaction of even the most elated customers.

The Ultimate Question

It hit home again with me the other day when I re-read one of my favorite research books, The Ultimate Question, by Fred Reichheld. In this excellent book, Mr. Reichheld boils the customer satisfaction issue down to one ultimate question:

“How likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?” He uses a ten point scale, and divides the reponses as follows:

  • “9″ and “10″ Scores are “Promoters”
  • “7″ and “8″ scores are “Passives”
  • “6″ or less are “Detractors”

(NPS) Net Promoter Score = Promoters – Detractors

This could not be more simple. There typically are some follow-up questions, but the net result is a quicker survey that provides outstanding and actionable research data. REmember, it’s not the information, but WHAT you do with it that makes the difference.

I have implemented this survey for several clients, and found that respondents react very well to the simplicity, and spend less time exasperated by a convoluted line of inquiry. And for the report of findings, there is even a neat web site that provides net promoter scores for various organizations ranging from airlines to fast food, which lets you see how you stack up compared with other businesses. Clients like it because they are not overwhelmed with reams of survey data. Follow up, concrete action and score improvements are straightforward and easy for employees to understand.

Two more questions that can yield very profitable insight:

1. How would you rate our customer service on a scale of ten, with ten being the highest?

2. (If less than 10) What would we have to change or improve to get a ten?

Then – listen. Get together with others to discuss and brainstorm your findings.

In research, simple and short are ALWAYS better.

Check out The Ultimate Question here.

And thanks so much for reading! I hope you will forward this to a friend or colleague that may find the information helpful.

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  1. Frank, we hear this such a lot – many businesses tell us that their customers hate filling in surveys! And yet we all make our customers go through this tortuous process time and again. We built a tool called Customer Thermometer to allow businesses to ask their customers just one question (Would you refer us?) or (How are we doing for you?) via email. Customers simply click one of 4 buttons as a response, straight from theie email, iPad, smartphone, whatever device they are using. The sender is then notified of each response, on a person-by-person basis, so that all feedback is trackable and actionable. We agree whoeheartedly that most businesses want to be able to take concrete action when they find out that their service has fallen short of expectation. What has been missing is the ability to simplify the customer data to that actionable point.


  1. [...] can read the rest of his post here. Wise words [...]

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