Over the last 2 weeks, I have written a series of blog posts on project planning and research design factors to consider when setting-up a lost customer research project.

In this post, I will share six commonly used lost customer research question types. The types of questions that you choose to ask your lost customers will depend on the research objectives and research medium that you outline in your project plan.

Company Demographic Questions

These are questions that identify key demographic characteristics to categorize lost customers into segments. This series of questions generally includes the following information, and are asked at the beginning of a lost customer research survey or answered prior to the interview via secondary research:

  • The main industry that the lost customer’s company operates in
  • Company size in terms of employees or revenue
  • Current number of customers using their product or services

Background about Purchase Decision and Usage of Products/Services

These questions are used to identify need and use case characteristics to further group customers into segments. Additionally, these questions also provide color about lost customer expectations, service usage(s), and the initial service selection process. Below are some examples of this question type:

  • What were the driver(s) of your company’s interest in (your company name)’s services?
  • How did your company use the (your company name)’s service?

Unaided Contract Cancellation Questions

These questions are used to identify the primary reasons behind a company’s decision to cancel its contract. Suggestions are not given with these questions. These questions must be asked before aided questions, so as to prevent bias being introduced by respondents being exposed to common reasons that have driven other companies to cancel service. Below is an example of this question type:

  • It is my understanding that your company cancelled its (your company name) service on (date), what were the three main reasons for this decision?

Aided Contract Cancellation Questions

These are questions used to identify the total universe of factors that affected the company’s decision and measure the relative importance of each factor. These questions are typically asked in a battery question format. These are scaled battery questions that are based on a 5-point or 10-point scale. These questions rely upon the data that your company was able to collect from its automated lost customer survey or customer support or sales representative who dealt with the cancellation notice. Below is an example of this question type:

  • I am going to read a series of potential factors that could have influenced your company’s decision to cancel (your company’s name) service contract. Please rank each factor in terms of importance on a 10 point scale, where one is irrelevant and 10 is the most important factor in your company’s decision.

Cancellation Reasons Matrix

Diversion Questions

These questions are intended to identify which alternatives lost customers have turned to in order to satisfy their needs and also identify why they have done so. These questions help identify the closest competitors and competitive advantage and disadvantages. Below are a some examples of this question type:

  1. Did you shift any of this workload over to an alternative?
  2. Which service provider did you switch your workload over to?
  3. Why did you feel that the other company’s services were a better fit?
  4. Which other services did you identify as better alternatives to (your company name)’s service if any? (Mark All That Apply)

Customer Feedback

These questions are intended to collect unbiased feedback on your company’s services. This feedback is unbiased because lost customers do not stand to benefit or lose from pricing or service changes. Below is an example of this question type:

  • If you could improve key aspects of (your company name)’s services, what would they be?

Now you know the most common lost customer research question types and should be ready to start designing your own lost customer research survey or interview guide.

Next week, I will share tips on how to design an automated lost customer survey in SalesForce to help you gather data for basic lost customer trends and input data for your in-depth lost customer research.

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