For service businesses, success is dependent upon providing customers and clients with an exceptional experience. But what exactly does it take to accomplish that? To find out, try asking your audience for feedback.

Customer surveys are one of the most valuable tools small business owners have. The information you collect reveals opportunities to improve your lineup of services and promote your business. To create a survey that helps you fully understand your customers’ perceptions of your company, these are the five questions you should be asking:

How was your recent appointment with us?

Have you added a new technician to your staff? Have you expanded or scaled down your offerings? By asking customers or clients about their most recent interaction with your company, you can gauge if you’re growing in a way that appeals to your audience. It’s like doing a quick temperature check of your business and strategy. Mid- to high-range ratings show that you’re on track, while a lower rating is a sign that you need to dig deeper and identify the root of that dissatisfaction.

What could we have done better?

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in or how well you do your job — there’s always room for improvement. Perhaps your customers wish you’d add topiary design to your landscaping offerings, or maybe it took you longer to fix that water heater than your client anticipated. Whatever answers you receive here, try not to take them too personally. Instead, view the responses as a guide to providing your customers with an exceptional experience going forward.

Take all the feedback into consideration and decide which concerns can realistically be addressed. A service business won’t survive long if it isn’t providing customers with the kind of experience they want. So what you learn from this survey question is especially important to the long-term success of your company.

How likely would they be to recommend your business to a friend or colleague?

All businesses can benefit from good word-of-mouth marketing, but companies in the service industry, in particular, have a lot to gain. Service industry professionals such as pet sitters, tax preparers and auto mechanics not only need a loyal base of clients to drive revenue, but they also count on those fans to vouch for the quality and trustworthiness of the service if they hope to grow.

This question, which is often referred to as the Net Promoter Score question, is especially important because it can be an indicator of future revenue. If respondents indicate that they wouldn’t recommend your business, consider sending a follow-up survey to determine what you can do to turn one-time clients into promoters.

What is your favorite aspect of our service?

Are you in the process of creating new ads for your business? Are you building or refreshing your website? Asking customers what they enjoy most can help you create promotional materials that resonate with your target audience. If, for example, you run a cleaning service, and a number of respondents say that they like your use of environmentally friendly products, you can make sure that you incorporate that Earth-friendly messaging into your marketing and promotional efforts going forward.

This question will also identify the areas of your business that should be refined and expanded, as well as any areas that may need to be phased out. An auto shop that specializes in general repair and maintenance but also offers auto body repair would likely want to devote more time to mechanical repair if survey respondents didn’t seem to be utilizing or enjoying the auto body component of the business.

Why did you choose our service over our competitor?

To stand out from the competition, you have to identify your unique selling proposition. What makes your services special? There’s no need to guess what your differentiator is — you can find out by asking your customers directly. Use the feedback you collect here to identify areas that are working well. Then scale up or promote those areas.

You might also discover that customers chose you over a competitor because of the way that you marketed your business. Are your travel agency’s email subject lines funny? Does your salon share before and after photos on your company Instagram account? If you find that certain aspects of your marketing strategy are a hit with prospects, then you can repeat them in the future.

Customer surveys not only tell you what you need to do to improve your business, but they also show your clients that you care about their opinions. After listening to feedback and making the necessary adjustments, you’ll be well on your way toward building a stronger business and a stronger relationship with your audience.