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Best Customer Survey Questions to Ask

November 15, 2019

With customer experience becoming more and more of a competitive differentiator, hot deals aren’t all you need to offer your customers to make a sale.

You need to provide a top-notch customer experience as well. However, customers aren’t necessarily confident that retailers understand their needs enough to improve the customer experience.

According to a recent study:

  • Fifty-three percent of customers don't have faith that traditional brick-and-mortar stores even know how to create a great customer experience
  • Sixty percent feel that physical stores don't take the time to understand their needs
  • Over 50 percent would shop more in-store if they felt the experience could be as personalized as it is online

The good news is that there is a solution. Customer surveying, combined with customer data analytics around shopping behavior, can help retailers pinpoint improvement areas for both brick-and-mortar and online shopping experiences.

Retail customer survey questions

Read on to learn about top customer survey questions you should ask that could help you improve customer experience, along with some basic surveying guidelines to get you started.

Guidelines for customer satisfaction surveys

1. Determine what you would like to learn about your retail experience, then prioritize the questions you should ask. Note that the goal could be different depending on shopping experience (e-commerce vs. brick-and-mortar) or customer journey stage (pre-purchase vs. post-purchase).
2. Keep it simple and short. It’s a busy time of year and your surveys should take no longer than a few minutes to complete (10 questions, ideally fewer).
3. Time it right. Send the survey too soon, and your customers won’t have anything helpful to say. Too late, and they may have already forgotten what it was that made the experience satisfactory or not.
4. Consider how you’ll deliver your surveys: email, in-app, or in-store kiosk? Use a channel that’s convenient for both you and your customer.

Tried-and-true customer survey questions

To start, let’s go over the most often-used relationship and transactional customer survey questions (NPS, CSAT, and CES), and how they can be modified to suit a particular customer touchpoint or shopping experience. 

Relational customer survey questions

Relational customer survey questions evaluate your customers’ overall sentiment towards your brand. Measuring this is a way to quantify how loyal your customers are to you—would they switch to a competitor, recommend you to a friend, or buy from you again? 

Also consider capitalizing on referral and word-of-mouth programs. If you can identify which of your new and existing customers love your brand enough to refer you (surveys are a surefire way to do this), you can activate your marketing teams to message specifically to those customers, encouraging them to write reviews and refer you to their friends.

The most popular relational customer survey questions by far are the net promoter score (NPS) and customer satisfaction score (CSAT) questions. Both NPS and CSAT surveys have two parts: an initial rating question accompanied by an open-ended follow-up.

NPS (net promoter score)

NPS question: How likely are you to recommend [brand] to a friend? Why?
Customers answer this question on a scale from 0-10. A rating of 0-6 indicates they wouldn’t recommend you and may in fact deter others from your brand, while 7-8 means they’re passive. Only ratings of 9-10 indicate that they’re promoters and would recommend you to a friend. Since this scale maps how your customers are segmented and how the NPS score is calculated, it’s important to keep it as is.

CSAT (customer satisfaction score)

CSAT question: How satisfied are you with [brand]? Why?
Customers can answer using various scales: 1-3, 1-5, or even 1-7. Switch it up with happy faces or stars as well, depending on what type of survey experience aligns with your brand.

The great thing about NPS and CSAT is that both survey methods result in a score that you can monitor over time for internal and external benchmarks. They both also provide qualitative feedback, where customers express in their own words why they rated you a particular way. Since you haven’t prompted any potential reasoning, you’ll get an honest, authentic read on what aspects of your shopping experience customers care about most.

Transactional customer survey questions

In contrast to relational surveys, transactional customer survey questions evaluate the quality of specific interactions.

You can easily modify the CSAT survey template to ask a transactional question:

  • How satisfied are you with the service provided by the staff?
  • How satisfied are you with the resolution of your support issue?
  • How satisfied are you with the cleanliness of the fitting room?

CES (customer effort score)

Customer Effort Score (CES) surveys are another classic transactional survey you can easily modify to suit a particular touchpoint. Similar to NPS and CSAT, CES surveys contain an initial rating question followed by an open-ended follow-up.

CES disagree-agree question: [Company or service provider] made it easy for me to [complete a transaction].

Customers rate on a scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree) how much they agree with the statement. 

CES surveys are most commonly used to evaluate customer support and purchase interactions, so you can really dig into how easy your business is to work with by asking such questions. 

Here are some examples of how to modify the survey to suit your situation:

  • For live customer support: Paula made it easy for me to resolve my customer service issue.
  • For self-service support: This support document made it easy for me to resolve my issue myself. 
  • For a web transaction: Hem & Stitch made it easy for me to purchase the product.

If you’re new to collecting customer feedback and are looking to get a basic program in place, note that many customer feedback platforms have pre-templated surveys that are extremely easy to customize.

See the Highest-Rated Enterprise Feedback Management Software, Free →

Customer survey question suggestions

Now that we know the most popular survey types, let’s get into the more detailed transactional questions you can ask to improve the retail customer experience. There is an endless number of questions you could ask your customers, which is why it’s so important to prioritize what you’re trying to understand and improve. 

Whatever you do, avoid the urge to create one gigantic survey that hits on all points. Each department, whether it’s customer support, marketing, or store management, can have a dedicated, short survey.

Store selection

  • Did you find what you were looking for today?
  • How satisfied are you with the product selection?
  • Did you find what you needed in stock?
  • How often does the store have what you need in stock?

Ease and comfort of the in-store or online experience

  • How satisfied are you with store hours?
  • The store is conveniently located.
  • The store made it easy for me to find what I was looking for.
  • The website made it easy for me to find what I was looking for.
  • How satisfied are you with the product information on the website?
  • How satisfied are you with the product images on the website?
  • It was easy for me to find items in my size.
  • How satisfied are you with the cleanliness of the store?
  • How satisfied are you with the cleanliness of the dressing rooms?
  • How reasonable was the wait time at the dressing rooms?
  • How reasonable was the wait time for the register?
  • How would you rate the store decor?
  • How would you rate the store lighting?
  • How easy was it to find parking?

Product and pricing

  • How satisfied are you with the product?
  • What other products would you like this store to offer?
  • How fair are store prices compared to similar retailers?
  • How satisfied are you with the value for money of your purchase?

Service and returns

  • How satisfied were you with the service overall?
  • The store made it easy for me to resolve my customer service issue.
  • How knowledgeable was the staff?
  • How friendly was the staff?
  • How helpful was the staff?
  • The store made it easy to make a return.
  • How fair is the return policy?

Shopping behavior

  • How often do you visit this store?
  • What was the primary reason for your visit today?
  • Did a store promotion bring you in today?
  • How often do you use this store’s coupons?

Open-ended questions for areas of improvement

  • What do you like the most about this store?
  • What would you change about this store?
  • How could we improve the shopping experience for you?
  • Is there anything else you’d like us to know?

As you build your retail customer survey with these questions, keep in mind that question order does matter. If you want to understand how much each of these aspects influence overall loyalty to your brand or overall satisfaction, start with the relational NPS or CSAT question. That way you capture the customers’ unvarnished opinion first, before influencing them with the nitty gritty questions that follow.

Success starts with a survey

Starting a customer survey program can seem like a major undertaking, but it’s not as difficult as it may seem. It’s okay to start with a simple NPS, CSAT, or CES survey, then modify it later to include more questions. Do this once you have a better idea of which areas of the retail experience are impeding growth and customer loyalty.

Before you know it, your organization will be closing the loop on customer feedback, showing customers you care, and making customer experience your brand differentiator for this holiday season and beyond.

See the Easiest-to-Use Survey Software →

Best Customer Survey Questions to Ask Here’s a list of the top customer survey questions to ask to improve the retail customer experience in both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce stores.
Lucia Chung As a content marketer, Lucia enjoys writing articles that educate, inform, and entertain. She is currently the Head of Content at Delighted, a customer experience management platform that helps companies improve their brand experience with real-time customer feedback. When she’s not writing or editing, she’s usually baking bread, cakes, cookies, and pies.

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