How To Write the Most Useful Customer Satisfaction Survey Questions

Dec 16, 2021

A dissatisfied customer is a symptom that something is wrong with your business and needs to be fixed. But you need to ask them the right questions to find out what. Use this three-step guide to turn customer feedback into actionable insights.

Andrew ConradSr Content Writer
How To Write the Most Useful Customer Satisfaction Survey Questions

In the era of COVID-19, online shopping is no longer just a convenient alternative to physical retail: It's the way the marketplace runs.

In our COVID-19 Consumer & Employee Impact Survey, we spoke to more than 500 consumers about their shopping habits during the pandemic. 60% said they had been shopping online, and of those, 73% planned to continue shopping online at that increased rate indefinitely.

With your customer base only limited by your marketing efforts and how far you’re able to ship, your sales opportunities couldn’t be greater—but it also means less room for error. If you lose an online customer due to an unsatisfying experience, they are gone into the night with virtually limitless alternative options. 

This is why customer surveys are so important. Getting an existing customer to honestly tell you about their experience is an incredibly valuable opportunity that can uncover insights on how to ensure greater customer retention and grow your customer base. And if you ask the wrong customer survey questions, you could be squandering that opportunity.

In this guide, we’ll look at how you can craft effective customer satisfaction survey questions that will yield the most valuable feedback.

Adjust the wording for your specific business goals

Gartner research suggests that most customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys should be built on a similar foundational question (full content available to Gartner clients):

“How satisfied were you with your recent experience?”

From that basepoint, you can tweak the survey question to fit your specific needs.

For example, if you’re trying out a new website design you could tweak the question to ask:

“How satisfied were you with the ease of navigation on our website?”

Or if you’ve recently implemented a new chatbot feature, you could ask:

“How satisfied were you with the helpfulness of the chat feature?”

Every time you run a CSAT survey, it’s helpful to ask yourself which aspects of the customer experience you’re most curious about and tweak this initial question accordingly, rather than relying on the same generic survey question over and over.

Use a 5- or 7-point scale when measuring customer satisfaction

It’s important to use an odd-numbered rating scale to avoid getting ambiguous feedback. 

Use too few points (satisfied, dissatisfied, or indifferent), and you’ll get results that aren’t very useful. Use too many points and you risk overwhelming respondents so that they don’t respond at all. Using five or seven points is a good compromise.

Here are examples of what these questions can look like:

Five-point scale

How satisfied were you with your recent experience?

  1. Very dissatisfied

  2. Dissatisfied

  3. Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

  4. Satisfied

  5. Very satisfied

Seven-point scale

How satisfied were you with your recent experience?

  1. Very dissatisfied

  2. Dissatisfied

  3. Somewhat dissatisfied

  4. Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

  5. Somewhat satisfied

  6. Satisfied

  7. Very satisfied

Once you have your results, you can gauge their overall satisfaction level by dividing the number of respondents who indicated some degree of satisfaction (on the seven-point scale, anyone who selected five through seven) by the total number of respondents. 

For example, if you get 100 responses and numbers five, six, and seven each have 25 selections, you have a 75% customer satisfaction score.

Add the right follow-up questions to derive actionable insight

Getting an overall customer satisfaction score for your business is helpful, but it can only go so far. What if a customer is satisfied with one part of their experience, but dissatisfied with another? Or what if they have specific suggestions that they would like to share with you that would help improve your business?

This is where follow-up questions, based on the initial response, are crucial.

If a customer indicated that they were dissatisfied with their experience, you’ll want to ask them what they were specifically dissatisfied with, while at the same time expressing concern and a desire to help. Here’s an example of how to do this:

We’re sorry to hear that you were dissatisfied with your experience and want to help make it better. What was the reason for your dissatisfaction?

  1. The shopping experience was frustrating (browsing, checkout, etc.)

  2. The product selection was poor

  3. I needed help and wasn’t able to get it

  4. Prices were too high

  5. Shipping was too expensive or took too long

  6. Something else:__________________

This customer feedback can help you identify trends and focus on areas of your business to improve (for example, user interface, customer service, or shipping). Including a catch-all, open-ended survey question can help you uncover issues with your online business that you hadn’t even thought of.

It can even be helpful to ask a satisfied customer this type of follow-up customer survey question to reinforce your investment in those areas.

Find the right customer satisfaction survey software

In this guide, we covered how to write useful customer satisfaction survey questions. But if you need help with the nuts and bolts of running a customer satisfaction survey, we have you covered there as well.


Screenshot of GetApp Customer Satisfaction Software page, taken by author

Our customer satisfaction survey software directory features more than 100 products to help you run your survey, along with thousands of authentic user reviews, and filters to let you sort by pricing model (including dozens of free options) and features included.

With the right customer satisfaction survey software, you’ll be well on your way to gaining and keeping more satisfied customers. Here are some other resources to help your growing business:


The Capterra COVID-19 Consumer & Employee Impact Survey was conducted in June 2020 to understand how the priorities and preferences of people—as consumers, employees, and patients—have shifted due to COVID-19. We surveyed 564 consumers making up a representative sample (by age and gender) of the U.S. population.

We worded the questions to ensure that each respondent fully understood the meaning and the topic at hand.

About the author

Andrew Conrad

Sr Content Writer
Andrew Conrad is a senior content writer at GetApp, covering business intelligence, retail, and construction, among other markets.

As a seven-time award winner in the Maryland, Delaware, D.C. and Suburban Newspapers of America editorial contests, Andrew’s work has been featured in the Baltimore Sun and PSFK. He lives in Austin with his wife, son, and their rescue dog, Piper.
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