How to run a customer satisfaction survey

How to run a customer satisfaction survey

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If there is something all CMOs know about marketing, it’s that data is key for success

This is why they work so hard analyzing KPIs, doing benchmarks, and investing in automated marketing tools.

But there is some information about the buyer personas that you can’t simply find in numbers. 

Especially regarding the experience they had buying something from a company — a subjective but really important feeling.

Customer satisfaction survey exists because of that. 

In this article, we want to show you what exactly it is, how it impacts business, and how you can improve your marketing and sales with it.

So let’s talk about the following topics:

What is a customer satisfaction survey?

When we talk about satisfaction, we think about success, happiness, and surpassed expectations. 

These are all feelings a company wants to evoke in their client base.

Happy customers mean a positive image for a brand and a marketing point to attract new ones.

It also means more loyalty, as people who are satisfied with experience tend to seek it again.

But measuring feelings isn’t always as practical and objective as looking at metrics like conversion rates and profit. 

Understanding where this satisfaction comes from is an investigation, a deep dive into your audience’s mind.

This is the reason why customer satisfaction surveys still exist — even with technology getting so good at anticipating and understanding buying habits.

A survey like that is a questionnaire (or an interview in some cases) designed with relevant topics about the customer’s buying experience.

It is usually a mix of quantitative and qualitative questions to better understand their relationship with the brand, its products, and its customer service.

The main goal is not only to know how your audience perceives your brand but also to identify the roots of those feelings.

It is a quest for reasons, for meanings. 

This kind of approach can greatly enrich your data analysis and give new insights into the actions you can take to improve the brand image and the public’s loyalty.

What kind of data should you get from them?

The more data you get from any research, the better for the company. 

But a customer satisfaction survey should always be aimed at a specific goal, based on what you want to know about them.

In this sense, we can separate the strategy into 4 main types of surveys, each of them offering different data for the marketing department.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

NPS template
Source: SurveyMonkey

NPS is the easiest way to assess satisfaction by using a single, direct question: how likely are you to recommend our product/service to family and friends?

This is a straight quantitative survey. It doesn’t go deeper into the roots of problems but gives you a good landscape of how your company is influencing the audience.

It is also a gateway to segmenting and dealing with different stages of satisfaction within your client base. 

Reinforcing promoters and approaching detractors will always return better results.

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

CSAT template
Source: SurveyMonkey

A CSAT is a little more elaborated than an NPS. 

Instead of questioning about recommendations, this survey investigates with simple binary answers (Yes or No) what specifically went right and wrong in your relationship.

These questions can be:

  • Did you manage to buy the product on the first try?
  • Did you experience problems with the product?
  • Were your expectations about the purchase met?
  • Were your expectations about the product met?
  • Would you recommend the brand to family and friends?

An interesting thing about CSAT is that usually, you will get good numbers. So the real value in it will be identifying unusual bad results and studying their source.

Customer Effort Score (CES)

CES template
Source: Usabilla

CES is used mainly to measure product/service and support performance. For example, asking them how easy and fast was to solve a problem after they contacted CS.

As the name suggests, your questions should be focused on effort. A scale between “very hard” and “very easy” or “very fast” and “very slow” will help the business understand their efficiency better in those aspects.

Milestone surveys

Milestone surveys are great to understand when and why your customer loyalty begins to falter

They could be any of the previously mentioned types, but they usually start from triggers.

Asking about customer satisfaction after 3 months of using a product or service is an example. 

You can ask about their experiences up to that point and also investigate what the company can do to keep them engaged.

How can they impact on your business strategies?

When we look at the possible data gathered from different types of surveys, we can easily understand their value to a company that seeks better sales and better efficiency.

First of all, customer satisfaction is a thermometer. It measures how hot a brand is in the market, how close it is from their audience, and what is the overall brand perception.

From that point, surveys go into the specifics of that experience: where are the main friction points in purchases, when you are more prone to lose a client.

When done right, customer satisfaction is a comprehensive and objective kind of benchmark

With that data, marketing and sales teams can adjust strategies, polish experiences, and draw a shorter path between the brand and its audience.

How can you do a customer satisfaction survey?

As you probably already noticed, a customer satisfaction survey doesn’t have a single formula. It depends on what do you want to know and the answers you expect.

The best approach is usually to have more of one survey running at the same time. The types of questionnaires you listed are not excluding, but complementary.

So what we want to do now is to give you the basic steps to decide, plan, and execute great surveys on customer satisfaction!

Know what you want to know

To start any planning, you will need a goal. What is the kind of KPI you want to measure? What do you want to know from your audience that can help the company improve its numbers?

Usually, the first step is to pick a target: user experience, the purchasing experience, satisfaction with a product, expectations vs. results, support efficiency, etc.

From there, you can compile theories about what you think the business is doing right and wrong so that you can prove or disprove them based on the data.

Find the right questions

The questions you make are key to achieving the answers you want. It isn’t just about what you ask, but how you do it.

There are different kinds of questionnaires that evoke distinct feelings and can even lead to conflicting answers. But this is crucial to understand your audience feelings about the brand. 

Here are some of these types.

Rating scale

Maybe the most used in a customer satisfaction survey, rating scale questions try to bring some subjectivity to your data. 

Grading answers is a good way to give more flexibility to the surveyee to express their feelings. 

An example would be: “On a scale from 1 to 10, how likely are you to buy another product in this store?”.

Semantic differential questions

This kind of question is very similar to a rating scale, but it uses semantics instead of numbers. 

You’ve probably seen some of those already. Here’s an example:

How satisfied are you with our product?

  1. Completely satisfied.
  2. Somewhat satisfied.
  3. Not that satisfied.
  4. Not at all satisfied.

It is important to keep the sentence structure and the words similar from choice to choice, so you don’t lead an answer.


When the customer is limited to choosing among pre-determined answers. 

An example could be:

How was your experience browsing through our store?

  • I found what I wanted and purchased it quickly.
  • I found what I wanted quickly, but had problems with purchasing.
  • I had problems finding what I want, but the purchase process was easy.
  • I had trouble with both finding a product and purchasing it.

As you can see, multiple-choice is better for you when you already have determined scenarios and want to test them.


Binary questions are usually more direct so that you can trade complexity for volume. 

They are basically “Yes” or “No” questions.

What you can do here is to populate the questionnaire with similar but different enunciations. This can help you eliminate biases and give more trustworthy data.


At last, it is great to have some real opinions about the company and its products. 

Open-ended questions are those you give the surveyee freedom to say what they want with words.

But remember: never make this type of question obligatory as it demands way more engagement. 

It is also better to reserve it for your loyal base and treat it as a way of them to participate in the brand’s development.

Use technology

Making the right questions is the hardest part, but it doesn’t matter if you can’t reach your audience and gather answers.

There are many services online where you can make interactive content and distribute surveys the right way. 

Automation is key for having a good amount of data.

Reward who answers

Here is a tricky part of surveys: people sometimes are just not motivated enough to take part in them. When that happens, you will have to find the right arguments.

Discount coupons, rich educative materials, and even prizes are ways of populating your survey. 

It has to be something that your public values enough to make that effort for you.

Turn answers into action

This one seems obvious, but a lot of companies do great surveys and don’t know what to do with them. That is why having a well-established goal matters.

When data comes in, you have to go back to your theories in the planning phase and analyzing which were right and need action. Them you study answers and find the roots of the problems you want to solve.

A customer satisfaction survey is a constant battle for improving quality and efficiency. It is about understanding your audience’s expectations and working to surpass them. 

Who knows that importance and how to do it is always ahead of the competition.

Do you want to know more about how you can satisfy your customer? Then check this special post about CS as a part of product delivery!


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