Getting good customer experience data is both an art and a science. If you understand the difference and why it’s important, you can get a robust, reliable picture of the customer journey. If not, you’ll be stuck with bad data, which leads to bad decisions. And disappointing results. What do we mean by “art” and “science”? We’re referring to two different methods of data collection: customer satisfaction surveys and mystery shopping.
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The former is a means of personal expression (art); the latter is designed for rigorous, unambiguous data collection (science).
In both cases, the questions you ask are like tools in your respondents’ hands. In the case of customer satisfaction surveys, you’re supplying pencils and paint brushes of varying shapes and sizes. The trick is to make sure these tools are appropriately designed and positioned so they draw out the information you need.
Need concrete help with your own customer satisfaction survey? Here are 35 sample questions to get you started.
Mastering the Art of the Customer Satisfaction Survey: Three Key Elements
A customer satisfaction survey is like a blank canvas. The richer the detail, the better the result. Your customers should be able to express themselves using a variety of techniques.
Pointed, closed-ended questions create a profile of the shopper and provide context for all other survey responses:
- What is your age/gender?
- What was the total purchase amount from your receipt today?
- How often you do visit this store?
- Did you visit the store based on a promotion or sale?
- Was this your first time using this store for [product/service]?
- Based on this experience, would you continue to use this store for [product/service]
- Would you like someone to contact you?
Tints and Shades
Scale questions are designed to register how positively or negatively your customer viewed the experience. While a neutral response (light blue) may suggest the need for new operational or engagement strategies, responses at both ends of the spectrum (white or navy) reveal the most impactful moments in the customer journey.
Example #1: Coffee shop customers might be asked to rate the particulars below via degree of satisfaction (1 = “Not at all satisfied”; 10 = “Completely satisfied”).
- Your overall experience at this store
- The warmth of the coffee
- How well the coffee counter/area was stocked
- The taste of your beverage
- The accuracy of your food order
- The overall cleanliness of the restrooms
Example #2: An apparel retailer would ask the following questions using a different scale (1 = “Do not agree at all”; 10 = “Completely agree”).
- You were made to feel welcome during your visit (i.e., greeted and/or thanked by one or more associates).
- The outfitted mannequins were helpful in building an ensemble.
- The prices offered were appropriate to the items.
- The associates were friendly.
- The associates were knowledgeable.
- Associates offered assistance on the sales floor.
- The merchandise was high quality.
- The items you were looking for were easy to find.
- The store has a wide variety from which to choose.
- It was easy to find items in your size.
- The store was visually appealing.
- The wait time at checkout was reasonable.
- The cashier processed the transaction quickly and effectively.
- The store had a reasonable return and exchange policy.
- The item(s) you were looking for (was/were) available in stock.
Example #3: These reflective questions are designed to gauge probability of a future action (1 = “Not at all likely”; 10 = “Very likely”).
How likely are you to return to this store?
If asked, how likely are you to recommend this store to others?
Open-ended questions give customers the floor. Responses often yield surprising insights, which can and do lead to market and industry breakthroughs.
- Why did you choose this overall rating?
- If the item(s) you were looking for (was/were) not available, what item(s) would you like to see?
- If (Y/N) [to the previous question], tell us why.
- What do you like best about shopping at our store?
- What suggestions, if any, do you have for improving your shopping experience?
Assessing the Big Picture
Customer satisfaction surveys—expertly designed, executed, and analyzed—suggest which touchpoints matter most, which perform best, and which are sabotaging sales. But to know with certainty what’s happening in your stores, both broadly and over time, you need to capture the tiniest and subtlest positives and negatives. You need to map trends and patterns you’d otherwise miss.
A customer satisfaction survey can’t do all that by itself. You need additional layers of research.
Mystery shopping and customer intercepts (real-time in-store customer interviews) bring complementary strengths to the mix. If you use these approaches in combination with customer satisfaction surveys, the insights you gain will unlock new possibilities for your brand.