Basic product survey questions to ask customers

Creating products people want is critical to the success of any business. Whether you’re manufacturing cars or toasters, or developing software, a product survey can get you the information necessary to meet customer needs.

Product surveys can assist in your mission to develop products that both existing and new customers will buy and keep buying. These surveys give you the data that keeps you competitive in the marketplace.

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What makes a great product survey?

They’re given at regular intervals

You can create product surveys before a product even exists. Send out a survey to existing or potential customers simply to see what they think about an idea — or ask what kinds of products they would like to see in the future. Surveying early can provide you with valuable market research about your customers’ interests, and the insights you get from that research can help you determine where best to direct capital and human resources.

But don’t make surveying a one-and-done deal. Customer attitudes change over time, and unforeseen circumstances — like a pandemic that suddenly makes e-commerce a commodity — can change their minds about certain things.

Establishing benchmarks is especially important during times like these. Implementing product surveys before and after a product release — and at critical junctures — helps you make more informed decisions about the direction of your business.

They’re brief but not too brief

A survey that no one completes isn’t much good to anyone. Creating a survey that’s substantial enough to give you the information you need but brief enough that customers want to complete it is a delicate balancing act.

Use clear, easy-to-understand questions written in your own words. Be mindful of the question type and response type (checkboxes, rating scale, Likert scale questions, etc.) and the time it will take your recipients to provide responses. A survey that’s too long will have a high abandonment rate.

They aren’t polarizing

Good product survey questions give more than two options for an answer. This is simply because customer attitudes and feelings about a product are more subjective than objective — and that means they typically are more nuanced than a simple yes or no answer. This doesn’t mean that you can’t quantify the data; it just means that the data is detailed.

They supply actionable data

The purpose of a product feedback survey is to get data you can use. You don’t gather data by reading one survey at a time. The information needs to be searchable and sortable.

You need to be able to search for specific keywords that give you insight into how individual customers are reacting to what you’re trying to do. And you should be able to sort the data so that you see what your customers want in the aggregate.

Examples of product survey questions

How likely would you be to recommend our product to a friend or colleague?

This question is critical. The answer gives you one of the most important metrics you can use to measure the strength of your product in particular and your business in general — the Net Promoter Score® (NPS®).

The NPS provides a quantifiable metric to measure customer experience with your product. You can use this not only to gauge how your customers feel about your product but also to categorize those customers. The categories give you a better idea of how different groups respond to your product.

How frequently do you use our product(s)?

With this question, you can see how often your customers are using the products you sell. This is particularly useful for businesses that make more than one product. You can see which products are making people happy and which ones aren’t generating much enthusiasm.

Which features do you value most?

Many products thrive on multiple features, and many companies use feature richness as a selling point. If your product has features that either enhance or take away from a customer’s user experience, this is the question that will bring those to your attention.

This is also an opportunity for company leaders to learn about any originally unintended uses for their product that make customers happy by solving a problem. Dawn dishwashing liquid found this out when someone discovered that their product could benefit the environment by safely and gently removing oil from animals affected by oil spills — there’s nothing like a happy unintended consequence.

Are there other products you would like to see?

This question will help your product managers devise new products down the road as well as new features for existing products.

Companies spend a lot of time and effort developing product road maps — the complete picture of a product or series of products, including development time and release schedules. The last thing a business wants is to create a product no one wants to use.

Besides alleviating that headache, this question can also assist in revealing customer pain points that a company can easily eliminate. This is particularly true in software development. Not all features customers ask for require an entire teardown and rebuild. A company can grant some requests with minimal implementation costs.

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Customer communication builds lasting relationships

Let your customers know that you’ll use the information they took the time to give you. Once you’ve gathered your answers and analyzed them, follow up with the people who provided you with feedback and let them know what the future holds for your products.

Net Promoter®, NPS®, NPS Prism®, and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., NICE Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld. Net Promoter ScoreSM and Net Promoter SystemSM are service marks of Bain & Company, Inc., NICE Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.

A journalist and digital consultant, John Boitnott has worked for TV, newspapers, radio, and Internet companies for 25 years. He’s written for, Fast Company, NBC, Entrepreneur, USA Today, and Business Insider, among others.

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