8 Survey Questions CS Teams Should Ask Their Customers, As Told by 3 Experts

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

Bill Gates said this, and based on Microsoft’s wild success, there’s clearly something to it. However, there’s more to the story here. Talking only to your most unhappy customers is a way to figure out what’s not working, but if you want a full picture of what is creating value, your happiest customers need a seat at the table, too.

Why does any of this matter? Because it’s 2024, and it’s time for Customer Success (CS) leaders to receive direct feedback — positive, negative, and everything in between — from their customers about their product, people, and value. Surveys are one of the best ways to gather this kind of feedback at scale.

But here’s the thing: This goes beyond just gathering Net Promoter (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) data. The status quo of surveying leaves CS organizations in a place where they miss out on vital insights that would shape their businesses into something current (and future) customers can’t imagine their jobs without.

That’s why later this year, Vitally is launching a native custom survey feature that will make it easy for CS teams to gather important customer feedback and stay up-to-date with trends across their entire client base. 

To prepare for this launch, we sat down with three CS experts to learn which questions they like to ask in customer surveys. 

Get ready to learn from:

These three pros provided us with a practical list of eight survey questions that’ll help you understand how your customers are (or aren’t) enjoying your product. 

8 Questions to Include in Your Surveys, As Told by 3 Experts

If you’re creating a customer survey, here are eight questions you should consider including to learn valuable, actionable information about your customers that’ll inform your future interactions with them.

Let’s look at what our CS experts use to unlock valuable feedback. 

1. “What was the initial business problem that led you to buy our product?”

We love this question because it helps us understand what customers need. We know the exact problem(s) that drove them to choose us. This feedback becomes gold for digital ads, pitch deck creation, and campaign planning. 

Kristen Gray Psychas loves this question because it invites customers to think about the broader context of your product and team’s impact on their business’s success. This question is a perfect way to see what prompted a customer to buy and what they planned to solve with your product. You could frame this as a free-response question and get a good sense of a customer’s likelihood of renewal, or you could make it a multiple-choice question and offer up your main value propositions along with “Other” as options, just to see if your messaging is on-point or off-base.

2. “Are you achieving the outcomes you invested in our product for? If not, what could we be better about [PRODUCT]?”

We’re big fans of this question that Tyler Diderich suggested because it’s an honest reality check. It gauges whether we’re delivering on our promises. This feedback spotlights areas that need improvement and reminds customers that you’re not just trying to pull money out of them; you want your product to work well and make their jobs easier.

Tyler says it best: “It’s so easy to talk about all of the new shiny features you’ve released without even asking if [a customer] is getting what they hoped for initially.” 

In short, never launch anything in a vacuum. Good innovation starts with great listening.

3. “On a scale from 1 to 10, how likely are you to renew your subscription today? What factors influenced your score?”

This question is direct, and we’re here for it. You get an accurate sense of whether or not your customer is planning to renew, and why or why not.

According to Michi, this question provides a quantitative measure of customer loyalty and satisfaction — something that you can track over time. It also helps pinpoint specific issues or seasons where expectations aren’t being met. 

4. “Which key performance indicators (KPIs) have our product helped you improve since adoption?” 

Real results matter. Is your product making a tangible difference? Is it “paying for itself, and then some” with the value it provides? This question goes beyond bells, whistles, and features and digs into business impact. 

Kristen offered up this question because it provides concrete evidence of value. The responses will guide your product development team to build new features and perfect existing ones based on the KPIs that matter most to your customers.

5. “Which feature do you find most valuable, and why?”

You know the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? This question allows you to zero in on what’s hitting the mark so you can take your hands off. The “why” part of this question is key, so we recommend leaving it as a free response. It’s not only about what customers like but why they like it. 

Michi loves this question because it’s simple and straightforward. Often it’ll surface industry or use case patterns, too, so Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success teams can all understand what types of features are most valuable to different personas in your ICP.

6. “What are some of the biggest pain points your business unit is encountering as it grows?”

This question isn’t about your product or service at all; it’s about the challenges your customer is facing, and that’s it. When you understand the macro-issues they’re dealing with, sometimes you can identify expansion opportunities. You also show a commitment to their success by asking a question like this — not just as it relates to your product. This feedback sheds light on market trends which helps with strategic planning as well as product development. 

Kristen says that this question in particular has improved her cross-selling efforts. It builds trust and opens doors for customized outreach to other buyers within the organization. 

7. “Select which of the following outcomes you knew you could accomplish with our product.”

There’s a lot your product can do, and likely, lots of your customers have only scratched the surface. A question like this leads to good conversations between customers and CSMs to increase usage or expand goals, which leads to higher customer retention and more upsell opportunities.

Tyler recommended this simple multiple-choice question to paint a clearer picture for customers of what you can do for them. He doesn’t recommend you just list out your features by name, but rather that you list outcomes that correlate directly with each feature. This practice is customer-centric rather than your-product-centric. In his words, “every business should have a menu of outcomes they can serve to their customers.” Full stop.

8. “Can you share an instance where one of our team members exceeded your expectations in providing support?”

Last but not least, this eighth question prompts customers to highlight exceptional service they’ve received, giving CS leaders and maybe even executive leadership the chance to recognize outstanding employees, motivate others, and boost morale.

Michi noted that this question focuses on positive experiences. Customers can reflect on moments when they received outstanding service months ago. Plus, sharing stories of employees who went above and beyond can be a powerful form of recognition internally. Employees learn from their peers what behaviors contribute to positive customer experiences.

And that’s it! We hope these questions help you craft a customer survey that’ll uncover rich, actionable insights that inform strategies across all parts of your business. 

But before we conclude here, let’s talk briefly about what to do once you get those insights.

Once You Have Answers to These Questions, Then What? 

You’ve gathered valuable customer feedback, so what’s next? 

Use them to make decisions and take actions that’ll optimize your business. Here are four (of many!) areas of your business you should pay attention to as you seek to incorporate survey insights into your operations.

  1. Product Development: Turn feedback into innovation. Use customer preferences to steer product features and functions. This will continue to drive customer satisfaction and loyalty. 
  1. Marketing Strategies: Use insights to craft marketing campaigns that resonate. Highlight features customers love. Address common concerns and make your efforts more relevant and impactful. 
  1. Sales Enablement: Equip your Sales team with real customer feedback and practical stories and quotes. Sharing what current, happy customers value most will boost any sales pitch’s credibility. 
  1. CSM Empowerment: Customer surveys offer CSMs a window into real experiences. This is crucial for personalizing interactions, anticipating issues, and building stronger relationships.

By leveraging customer feedback, Customer Success professionals can better align departmental strategies with each customer’s needs. Knowing CSAT is nice, sure, but enhancing customer satisfaction by taking action on their feedback is what will unlock exponential growth. 

Coming Soon: Send Surveys Out of Vitally

Can we all agree that retaining customers should be a top (if not the #1) priority in 2024? 

We’re taking a big bet that customer feedback is key to real growth. By tapping into what your customers tell you, you can: 

  • Innovate with purpose
  • Market with a message that hits home
  • Give your Sales team the stats and enablement they need
  • Help your CS team make every customer feel heard

Every piece of feedback is your chance to get better and build a business that customers love, one data point at a time. 

That’s why we’re launching our native custom survey feature later this year. In the meantime, keep asking your customers questions and taking action on their answers. We’ll make that a whole lot easier real soon.

Until then, you can always take a tour of Vitally to learn more about how our award-winning Success platform helps CS teams improve NRR, deliver best-in-class customer experiences, and get more work done.

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