Customer surveys are an under-appreciated art form. If being successful in business was as easy as rounding up a group of prospects and asking them what they wanted your business to create, what features they’d like it to have, and when they’d like to buy it, everyone would be successful.

But it’s not.

Here’s a customer survey primer to help you get the information you need to create offers that sell easily.

First, remember that there are two distinct perspectives that make a business successful: the business’ perspective and the customer’s perspective. When creating a survey, you want to detach yourself as much as possible from your business’ perspective. Your ultimate goal is to gather the customer perspective information you need to leverage your business perspective.

1) Ask questions that allow you to understand your customers’ experiences.

From your customer’s perspective, your products and services simply don’t factor. They have a full range of experiences, desires, and frustrations on a daily basis that probably don’t seem related to you or your business at all. Always phrase your questions in terms of their experience and seek, through gathering answers, to learn more about it.

2) Seek to prove a hypothesis.

If you’ve been in business any length of time, you know a lot more about your customers than you think. It’s trapped in your brain as social information–for instance, you’d use it if you were having a glass of wine together at the bar–and, when you unlock it, you might discover some surprising things that lead to a bold hypothesis. When you’ve got that hypothesis, use a survey to discover if you’re right and to learn more about your big idea.

3) Provide a control question.

Unless you’re super selective about who you’re surveying, you need a control question. A filter question is one that will allow you to separate your Most Valued Customers from those more on the periphery of your business. I try to select a piece of information I know about my best customers and use it as a control. Then when I sort the information I receive, I can look specifically at the group that answered the control question positively.

Surveying your customers is a powerful tool, but it’s not a cure all. A survey won’t get you the information you need to create a produce with stick-to-your-ribs value but it can provide context and nuance to your understanding of your customers’ experiences, desires, and questions.

And that’s valuable.


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