3 Keys to Better Customer Surveys

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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How to Find Needs & Desires That Scale – or – What Gift Giving Has to Do With Your Goals

So you’re ready to create a new product or design a new collection. Further, you’re ready to take this baby to scale.

It’s go big or go home.

When your business creates a product that scales, you’re aiming to serve as many people as possible with a solution designed with them in mind. The danger is watering down what you offer. Solutions that scale are based on specific needs and desires, not on sweeping generalizations.

The key to discovering the specific needs & desires that scale is to examine particular customers you’d like to reproduce. You know the ones: you’re thrilled to see them on the calendar, you’re happy to package up their orders and send them a little something special, you’re glad to answer their questions and guide them towards the best purchase. They’re the customers who challenge you, thrill you, and inspire you.

Scale doesn’t start with a big idea. Scale starts with a single customer, a single problem, and single solution.

Click to tweet!

Too often, business owners try to diagnose the problems of the market instead of an individual customer. You try to spot the trends, the big opportunities, instead of getting clear on what the person right in front of you needs most.

The go to tool for this? The survey. Don’t get me wrong, surveying your audience can be extremely useful. However, it’s not useful when you’re looking for your next idea. Use a survey when you want to know more about your customers’ experience with [blank] or their frustrations with [blank]. But don’t use a survey when you want to know what’s on their collective mind. It will (almost) always be a shadow of what is really true.

The people who are right in front of you–those customers who thrill, excite, and inspire you–are constantly giving you information. They are writing you emails, responding to your tweets, and giving you feedback on their purchases. The best tool for discovering the needs & desires of those right-in-front-of-you customers is your own mental archive. Trust yourself, trust your observations, trust the information.

The same way you know how to give the perfect gift to someone you love is the way you discover how to create a product that scales.

The thing about the person right in front of you is that her needs are felt by someone else. In fact, those needs are felt by countless others. Obvious? Perhaps. And perhaps what you’re doing when you go trendspotting is trying to identify those very needs. But when you survey the group, you inevitably water down your observations.

You turn your observations into “big ideas.” Those big ideas are great for getting buy in. They can motivate, entice, and enthuse. But, they rarely turn into a sale.

Scale is about precision: precise language, precise desires, precise solutions, precise connections.

Scale is about the perfect gift.

That kind of precision isn’t about demographics or profiles. It’s about meaning, belief, internal scripts, personal priorities, and core desires. You won’t discover those by going broad; you’ll find them by diving deep. Focus your energy, your intuition, and your magnifying lens on the people right in front of you.

That’s where you’ll find the needs that will scale.


Are you ready to unlock those needs?

That’s why I created The Customer Perspective Process. It will allow you to tune into your customers’ inner needs & desires and creating lasting systems for growth based on them.

Click here to find out about the next Customer Perspective Process boot camp.