Asking that one question in your customer surveys

Getting feedback from your customers is crucial in order to gauge how your product or service is being perceived in the market. We are now sent a feedback email after every interaction with products or support. Knowing that people have very little time or interest in replying to lengthy forms with lots of questions, the default these days seems to be that one question: “On a scale of 1 to ten, how likely are you to recommend our product to someone?”

How much insight does that single-sentence query truly provide to you? Is there a better single question you can ask instead that would give you actionable insight?

First, why would someone not recommend your service to a friend? Is it simply a reflection of the customer’s evaluation of your service? No. It might be a service that none of my friends need. It might be a service I don’t want my friends to know I engage with. Maybe I really like your product or service but at that moment, I was pissed off at the outcome after speaking with your perfectly reasonable support agent.

There could be many reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of your product or service. Yet, by the customer selecting “0” you are left with meaningless information.

Let’s say that I select 5 because I think your product or service is pretty average. Again, you have no idea why I chose that number, but even if you make the correct assumption about why I selected “5”, what will you do with that number?

Say that you’ve collected 10,000 responses and graphed them all out. It looks like a lopsided bell leaning toward the lower numbers. What will you do with that? Anything you conclude or change based on that graph will be arbitrary and worthless.

Instead, how about a better question? On a scale of 0 to ten…

  •  How satisfied were you with our support?
  • How easy was it for you to reach our support?
  • How likely will you continue to use our phone support?
  • How would you rate your love of our product?
  • How do we rate compared to our competition?
  • How has your experience with our product compared with your initial expectations?
  • How enthusiastic are you about buying from us again?
  • How would you rate the value of the product you’ve received for the money you paid?

Whichever question(s) you ask, know beforehand what actions you can take from the answers. The answers to the cliché of how likely someone is to recommend your product or service is unlikely to provide you with any meaningful outcome.

Michael Lake

Michael Lake

Marketer, musician, teacher, author, and Dad hopelessly curious about the world and determined to remedy its ills.


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