If your customers aren’t happy, nothing else matters. True satisfaction and loyalty require a good end-to-end customer experience. So, how do you create that experience to meet all of your customers’ needs?
Product surveys are an important tool for every product manager and customer experience team to understand what your users find valuable, how they use your product and what they want for the future.
Insights from product surveys, when analyzed and implemented correctly, can (and should!) inform your product roadmap, pricing, marketing campaigns and other strategic decisions to satisfy existing users and reach new customers to help your business grow.
Choosing the right product survey questions can make or break this process and the valuable insights it can uncover. Below, we’ll share how to plan your survey, sample product survey questions, and best practices for writing a survey that your customers will actually finish and that your team can leverage to guide your road to growth.
What is a product survey?
A product survey is a list of questions a company sends to its users to gather feedback and insights into their product. A product survey can be used in a variety of ways at any stage of the product development process to inform decisions such as new features, the long-term product roadmap, pricing, marketing and more.
How do you write a product survey?
Writing an effective product survey is about so much more than the questions themselves. A product survey without a clear goal and organized plan risks gathering unhelpful (or even inaccurate!) insights and being a waste of time for everyone involved.
Here are the steps you should take when writing a product survey:
1. Determine your survey goals and objectives
Defining the goals and objectives of your survey sets the stage for who you will send the survey to and what questions you’ll ask them. This ensures your survey results will provide the insights your team actually needs.
Having a clear idea of what you don’t want to learn is just as, if not more important, than what you do want to learn. Don’t waste your customers’ time asking questions that don’t help you achieve your survey goals. Likewise, don’t waste your team’s time going through those answers either.
2. Narrow down your target audience
Great product survey questions don’t matter if you don’t ask them of the right people! It’s tempting to default to sending your survey to as wide of an audience as possible, but as the saying goes, quality over quantity. Sending your product survey to the right people will always lead to more accurate customer feedback and actionable insights than simply aiming for a high volume of responses.
When gathering feedback on things like usability and new features you’ll want to send your survey to the people using your product hands-on on a daily basis. For example, a manager or executive may not know the ins and outs of every feature of your product, but they’re likely the better audience for surveys focused on understanding the business value of your product or getting feedback on pricing.
3. Decide on your survey questions
With your goals and target audience solidified, the questions should come now easily. If you’re still struggling, you may need to further define your goals or audience.
What you ask will depend on your product and survey goals. As you write your questions, think about the kind of customer data and insights you need; open-ended vs. closed-ended questions, multiple choice, demographic questions and rating scales are some of the many types of questions available depending on the information you’re gathering and whether you need quantitative or qualitative data.
Stick to no more than 10-12 questions in total to be respectful of your participants’ time and prevent them from losing focus.
4. Choose your delivery method
Now, it’s time to go beyond the what and why of your survey and start thinking about the how. Will you use a specialized survey platform? A paper survey? Build a survey on your website?
Whatever method you choose, make that decision now so you can create a first draft in the format it’ll take and start planning for execution.
Factors to consider when choosing your survey delivery method include:
- Internal skills and capacity (Do you have the skills and capacity available for any design or development work needed?)
- Integration with your existing tech stack and customer feedback management platform
- Ease of use and preferences of your survey takers
Depending on your survey delivery method, you may need to revise some of your questions based on how you’re able to ask questions and gather answers (eg. if a tool does not offer rating scales).
5. Create the first draft
It’s time to start bringing your survey to life. In this first draft, you’ll write out your questions, set them up in your delivery tool and get feedback on the questions and format. How we plan and envision our survey doesn’t always turn out as well as we expect, so bringing it to life and gathering feedback will ensure you iron out any kinks before sending it out to your users.
Many people prefer to write and revise their survey questions in a word document. This is a great step for refining the wording of the questions themselves in an organized manner (especially if you have multiple people giving feedback). However, we still encourage you to create a draft of the survey in its final delivery method to detect and improve on any problems that can come from the format itself.
6. Revise and refine
Once you’ve created your first draft, ask people to take the survey and provide feedback. Some questions you should ask include:
- Are the questions clear and easy to understand?
- Was the format to provide your answers the best way to communicate that feedback?
- Did you have any technical challenges with completing the survey?
Based on this initial feedback, you can revisit and improve on question wording, survey instructions, formatting and any other factors impacting a user’s ability to easily complete your product survey.
7. Publish your survey
You’ve defined your goals and audience, come up with great questions, drafted and revised your survey…now it’s ready to be published and sent to your users!
What are the different types of survey questions?
There are many different types of survey questions to ask depending on the answers you need and the format you need them in. These include:
1. Open-ended questions
Open-ended questions, as the name suggests, let participants answer a survey question in their own words instead of selecting from a pre-determined set of responses.
Open-ended questions can encourage deep and useful insights, because the customer can share their thoughts free from any restrictions or bias that may come across in other questions. They can uncover needs and problems you never even realized existed.
They do take more time and effort for a participant to provide their answer, so open-ended questions should be used sparingly and only where they’ll have the most impact.
2. Dichotomous questions
Dichotomous survey questions have two pre-defined answers (such as “yes” and “no”) and the participant can only select one.
While the insights from these questions may not be as deep or unique as open-ended questions, the results are easier to analyze and require less effort from the participant to answer.
3. Multiple choice questions
Multiple choice questions provide three or more pre-determined answers to a question. Depending on the question, you can limit participants to one answer or allow them to select multiple responses.
These pre-determined responses require less effort than open-ended questions and the results are easier to analyze, but they risk leaving out options that may actually be a user’s best answer.
4. Rating scale questions
Rating scale questions ask participants to select an answer to the question on a numeric scale (typically 1-5 or 1-10). This assigns a numeric value to the response which helps with analyzing results and understanding trends in responses over time.
5. Ratio scale questions
Ratio scale questions provide participants with a pre-determined set of responses that are grouped by value. Ratio scale questions often ask participants about income, age, company revenue, number of staff or how many hours a day they spend doing a specific task.
Grouping responses into ranges (such as asking participants their income in increments of ten or twenty thousand) can make analyzing the results easier and segment results based on these answers. A ratio scale can also help participants feel more comfortable answering certain questions that may feel intrusive (like asking their age or company’s revenue).
13 product survey questions to ask
Now that you’ve established your goals and determined your audience, it’s time to start writing your survey questions.
Below is a list of 13 questions to consider using when conducting a product feedback survey. Be sure to use a variation of question types to keep your survey engaging and to gather various types of feedback.
1. How often do you use the product?
Asking this question provides insight into how relevant and useful your product is to your target audience. It can also be a useful way of segmenting survey responses to gain deeper insight based on how often a user uses the product. To make the question simple to answer and analyze, consider adding a ratio scale.
2. Would you purchase the product again?
This ‘yes or no’ question gives you clear insight into whether a customer enjoyed your product to spend their money on it again, or if it’s a one-and-done situation for them. Based on their answer, you can add a follow up for them to provide open-ended feedback.
3. What is your favorite thing about the product?
The most important feature from a product team’s perspective isn’t always the same for a user! Asking this question helps you understand the customer experience and can inform marketing decisions and messaging based on what existing customers like best. There are a few ways to gather feedback for a question like this, including multiple choice answers, or open-ended feedback.
4. How easy is the product to use?
Nobody wants to use a product that causes more problems than it solves. Asking this question is especially important when your users aren’t tech savvy—what your team may think comes as second nature could be very frustrating and difficult for someone with less technical aptitude. Consider adding multiple choice answers for the customer to choose from.
5. Which product feature is the most valuable to you?
Understanding which features are most valuable to your users can guide where you invest your resources and understand how they’re actually using your product —it’s not always what you think or intended! This can also help you understand which features are used the least and identify areas of improvement to increase their usage and value to users. Consider a fillable box for open-ended feedback for this one, to be sure you don’t miss any answers.
6. Which product feature is the least valuable to you?
Understanding which features are less valuable can inform the product roadmap to direct resources towards features that will be the most valuable to users. Similar to many of the questions above, explicitly asking this question will give you the most accurate user insights instead of inferring this from other data points such as usage statistics. Consider a fillable box for open-ended feedback for this question as well, to be sure you gather as much feedback as possible.
7. What made you choose this product over our competitors?
This question identifies which factors have the greatest impact on a customer’s decision to purchase, how to market your product best and what you need to do to continue staying ahead of competitors and prevent customer churn.
Asking this product feedback survey question can also help your team understand what motivates them to pay for your product and how to maintain that satisfaction and loyalty. For this question, you’ll likely want to gather open-ended feedback.
8. If the product was no longer available, what would you use instead?
This question provides insight into how customers view your competitors and what you need to do to ensure they stay loyal to your product instead of churning to a competitor. You may have an idea of the answers your customers will give you. In this case, you consider adding multiple choice answers, including an “other” answer with a fillable box to add more feedback.
9. Which features are we missing?
Asking this question can uncover ideas that you hadn’t considered before or didn’t think would be valuable to your customers (some of which could be quick and easy to implement!).
Understanding which new features your customers will use and find valuable helps you refine your product roadmap and only invest resources into what will actually improve customer satisfaction.
Similar to the question above, consider multiple-choice answers only if you have a strong idea of the features you’re missing, with an “other” option for customers to fill in additional details if they wish.
10. What is one thing we could do to improve our product?
This may feel similar to the previous question but goes beyond product features to understand how to better serve your customers across all areas of the customer journey. Many companies put so much emphasis on research and product development that they neglect areas like customer support.
Asking this question can provide actionable user insights that aren’t limited to your assumptions about what you think will improve your product.
11. How would you rate the product’s value for money?
The fanciest product features in the world don’t matter if you’re not delivering actual value to your customers.
Explicitly asking this question, not inferring it from other answers or business data, will help you set the most appropriate price point, identify new pricing and revenue strategies and inform the future product roadmap based on what you know your customers are willing to pay. Add a rating scale for a question like this. You’ll likely gather open-ended feedback for this question.
12. How likely are you to recommend this product to friends?
This question is a variation of an NPS question, usually with a rating scale from 1-10.
13. Do you have any other thoughts or feedback to share?
We’ve preached the importance of clearly defining your goals and only asking questions that help you achieve your survey objectives but there is a lot of value in wrapping up a product survey by giving customers the opportunity to share anything on their minds.
Not everyone will take advantage of this —they may not have anything else to say or not want to take any more time than necessary. If just one person takes the time to share some honest feedback and provide a new perspective, this can produce valuable insights to improve your product and business.
Best practices for writing product survey questions
A successful feedback survey is highly dependent on what your goals are and how the survey is executed. Regardless of your goal, product or industry, here are some best practices to keep in mind when writing product survey questions:
- Make your questions specific and precise
- Keep it short—most product surveys should be no more than 10-12 questions
- Don’t ask questions that aren’t relevant to the survey goal
- Use simple language that’s tailored to your audience
- Don’t ask leading questions
- Include clear instructions at the beginning of the survey and, where necessary, for each question (such as labeling and explaining a scale)
Investing the right time and effort into writing your questions and creating a clear customer questionnaire is key to success, but don’t presume that you can just send it out and expect the responses to start flowing in.
A good follow-up process and other strategies to increase your survey response rate will help get the most out of your upfront work and gather as much valuable data as possible.
Change customer feedback into action with Idiomatic
A well-executed product survey is one of the best ways to gain valuable insights to inform your product roadmap, refine your marketing plan and increase overall customer satisfaction. With the questions above and our best practices for surveys, you’ll be well on your way to creating the product survey your team needs to guide your roadmap and scale your business.
Idiomatic’s customer feedback software uses the most detailed and accurate machine learning model in the industry to provide human-quality insights into customer feedback surveys at scale.
Request a demo today to see how Idiomatic can help you gain deeper insights from product survey results.