Keeping in touch with your customers and understanding their challenges and concerns is one of the most important ways to maintain your business relationships. If you don’t know what problems your customers might be having, you have no way to respond until it’s too late. One of the best ways to manage these relationships is to conduct regular customer satisfaction surveys – but don’t do it via email or automated methods alone; get on the phone and actually listen to your customers.

Every business situation will require certain different approaches when conducting customer satisfaction surveys, but in general, there are a few questions that are good to ask. These are proactive, open-ended questions that are intended to generate honest feedback. Your business or industry might have particular details or subject matter differences that require customized questions, but these survey questions are a good start:

  1. What is our company doing well – what do you like about our solution/service?

This seems like an obvious question, but it’s so important! Keep in mind – this question is open-ended, it’s not a simple “Yes or No” question. It’s too easy to just ask your customers “Are you happy with us, Yes or No?” Simple questions like that do not generate the detailed feedback that you need. By asking the question in an open-ended way, you are encouraging the customer to be specific and to talk as long as they need to.

  1. What are some areas that we could improve?

This is another open-ended question where you are inviting the customer to offer constructive criticism of your product/service. It’s important again to follow the customer’s lead here – don’t try to put words in their mouth. The customer might surprise you with their feedback on this question – they might have an issue with some aspect of your solution or service that you had not considered before. There might be the early stages of a problem developing in some aspect of the customer relationship that you had not anticipated. But by asking the question and being open to whatever they say, you will be more likely to gain insights from the conversation.

  1. What are your biggest business challenges, and how can we help?

As part of the customer satisfaction survey, it’s important to take a broader look at your customer’s overall operations. How does your solution fit into the customer’s broader business operations? Which business processes is your customer struggling with? What is keeping your customers up at night? By learning more about the customer’s business, you can gain insight into how you can help make their life better.

  1. What are your biggest business opportunities – and how can we help?

This is a more optimistic take on the previous question. Along with uncovering possible pain points, it’s important to help your customers think expansively about the future – and find ways to support them in creating that future.

  1. How do you feel about our company compared to our competitors?

Use your customer satisfaction surveys as a way to do some market research and competitive analysis. Have your customers been getting contacted by your competitors? Are they checking out other products/models that are coming onto the market? How does your brand compare to that of your competition? What new offers are sounding tempting to your customers right now? Asking these questions can help you understand the competitive landscape and spot new opportunities – whether it’s to upsell, cross-sell, or launch a new product.

Customer satisfaction surveys need to be an ongoing part of your customer relationship management process. By asking good questions – and really listening to what your customers say – you will be able to deepen your business relationships, improve your customer retention, and identify opportunities for new sales along the way.