If you could ask your customers one question—any question—what would it be?
A few weeks ago, I tapped my network for answers to the above, and received dozens of thoughtful responses showcasing your deep curiosity about customer needs, challenges, and goals.
It’s a good thing you’re curious, since the road to growth and innovation is paved with customer feedback. The best marketers and business leaders I know are customer-obsessed, and in a world of countless opportunities to measure, benchmark and act on feedback from employees, customers, partners, and more, that obsession is only growing. Whether you’re mulling over how to acquire them, how to retain them, or how to create massive value for them (tip: begin with the latter and the rest will follow), I challenge you to go straight to the source and ask your customers directly for insights that will significantly impact your business trajectory.
For inspiration, I’ve aggregated the best responses from my network into the top 5 questions to ask your customers, starting with...
What can my company do to better serve your needs?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, many of you said you’d ask your customers what you could do to serve them better—whether through a product update or an improvement to your services.
You’re clearly onto something. In a recent SurveyMonkey Audience study, we found 57% of people have permanently stopped using a product after one bad experience. Ellie Wu, Senior Director of Customer Experience at Concur, pointed out that it’s not enough to simply ask what your business should do differently—instead, Wu says, you’ve got to actually “do something with the answers. Show customers we are actively listening and value their time and input.”
- What would you like to see us keep (and/or stop) doing?
- What is the one thing that we can do better that would help us to better serve you?
- What is the one thing we could add to the product / service will help improve your efficiency?
- What do you wish we could do but can't?
- What are your pain points with us and how do you think we could fix them?
- How can I help provide more value to your organization?
- How can I help?
How satisfied are you with our products/services?
I could write an entirely separate post debating the merits of customer satisfaction vs. Net Promoter Score*, but whether you favor CSAT or NPS, you crave knowing if you’re pleasing your customers. No matter how stellar the product or service, at some point we’ve all faced the wrath of a rampant detractor who voices their dissatisfaction publicly and threatens to tear down the solid reputation and trust we’ve worked so painstakingly to build. The good news? Earning customer satisfaction doesn’t have to be hard. Listening to your customers is the first step to making them feel heard, understood, and valued.
Aditya Singh, General Manager at BloomReach India, says it’s “always helpful to hear in the customer’s own words what truly matters to them,” whether that’s a specific feature, customer service, or a strong relationship with their account manager.
- How dissatisfied will you be if we shut down our service?
- Can you give an example where you have been delighted/wowed by a product or service you’ve used at work and why?
- Are you willing to enthusiastically recommend us to a prospect today? If not, where must you see change this week?
- Would you renew at the end of contract based on what you feel at this very moment about the service/product that you consume?
- What part of the service makes you happy?
What value do we provide?
How much value are your customers extracting from your product or service? What features do they find irreplaceable? And at what cost are they no longer willing to pay? All great questions that can help you perfect your value prop, nail your pricing strategy, and differentiate your business from the competition.
Dailius, VP Sales & Growth at GetAccept, says he’s curious to learn how much customers are willing to pay to continue using his product/service to “determine both pricing strategy for new customers and the price:value ratio to appropriately triage accounts.”
- What's the main benefit you receive from our product/service?
- What value do we provide that makes you decide to stay with us?
What are your biggest challenges?
Got challenges? Your customers surely do. And the first step to understanding how you can help them is to walk in their shoes, build empathy, and find out what’s currently holding them back from success. Several of you get this and said you’d ask your customers a question related to pain points.
I love this question from Douglas S. Miller, VP Customer Success at AirPR Software: “How do you need to transform your business over the next 18 months, and how can I help?”
- What is your main challenge towards achieving growth in 2019?
- What are your biggest challenges you are facing both internally and externally and how can I help you solve those challenges?
- What is the problem that, if solved, would make the biggest difference to your life?
- How do you need to transform your business over the next 18 months, and how can I help?
Why did you choose us over the competition?
Many of you are curious about your competition, and specifically what would lead your customers to either switch to another vendor or continue to stay with your business. In most cases your customers have myriad options to choose from, so if they’re choosing you it’s worth your time to find out why—and what factors could cause them to make the jump to another vendor.
Jennifer Morrison, Senior Customer Success Manager at Achievers, would pose this question: “Why did you initially choose us and why do you continue to stay with us?”
- How often do you consider switching to my competition and why?
- If you have to choose a competitor who would it be and why?
What would you ask your customers? If you didn’t get a chance to answer my question already, drop me a message in the comments with the top question you’d like to ask your customers.
*Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.