6 min read
Nov 3, 2020

How To Write the Most Useful Customer Satisfaction Survey Questions

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 dissatisfied customers into actionable advice.

Andrew ConradSenior Content Writer

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

According to our survey of more than 500 consumers this summer (methodology below), 60% have been shopping online more in the wake of COVID-19, and of those, 73% plan 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 satisfaction surveys are so important. Getting a customer to honestly tell you about their experience is an incredibly valuable opportunity that can uncover insights on how to satisfy more customers in the future. And if you ask the wrong 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 insights.

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Adjust the wording for your specific business goals

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

“How satisfied were you with your recent experience?”

From that basepoint, you can tweak the 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 customer satisfaction 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 question over and over.

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Use a 7- or 5-point scale to hone in on customer satisfaction rates

It’s important to use an odd-numbered point scale to avoid getting ambiguous results. 

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 overall customer satisfaction by dividing the number of respondents who indicated some degree of satisfaction (on the seven-point scale, anyone who selected 5-7) by the total number of respondents. 

For example, if you get 100 responses and numbers 5, 6, and 7 each have 25 selections, you have a 75% customer satisfaction rate.

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Add the right follow-up questions to derive actionable insight

Getting an overall customer satisfaction rate 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:__________________”

These responses 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 question can help you uncover issues with your online business that you hadn’t even thought of.

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

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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.

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.


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.

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