Mar 29, 2019

Read Time 4 min

How Best to Create a B2B Customer Survey


Customer Success SurveysThis is a guest blog post by Gaetano DiNardi from Nextiva. 

How Best to Create a B2B Survey

You may think when looking for clear feedback from clients in the B2B sphere, it can be simple enough to directly ask for an assessment of the products or services you are providing. After all, the people you are interacting with have usually been in on many back and forth conversations with you regarding your relationship, service or product.

However, the direct approach of just inquiring about what a client thinks of how things went in interactions is not very organized. It can put someone on the spot and result in a general answer that doesn’t serve you, your client, or the evolution of your service or product. With that in mind, it is generally more useful to conduct a formal survey to gain customer insights.

So, even if you are working hand in glove with a client on a regular basis, the formal customer survey can be deployed to great effect, garnering answers you never thought about, and identifying pain points or positive reactions that your clients may not have revealed to you otherwise.  

This may be because a client simply never gathered the thoughts about your service that the right questions will elicit of because a more formal setting makes them feel more comfortable about opening up.


Begin with the End

The most crucial part of creating a survey is to consider what results you are anticipating. You want to try to garner measurable feedback as well as useful commentary on how well your service is fulfilling client needs.

Are you looking to enhance ways of marketing your products? Checking in on customer service objectives? Focusing on customer retention? Your objectives must be clear and focused, while you may want a number of outcomes from a survey, be sure to pick one or two at the most as you want to make sure to be respectful of your client’s time. After all, you can always run more than one survey if you are looking to consider multiple angles.  



While most B2B clients are likely anticipating an email survey that they can take care of at their leisure, you might want to consider other options. If your survey is short enough, you could go through it on the phone or ask clients to fill out something on paper.

While the personal connection might skew results, it is also a good way to inspire people to actually participate. Remember that while you want some qualitative information, it is usually crucial to be able to process this information in a quantitative way. For this, it is useful to use numerical rating systems in questions.


Types of Rating Scales

The main questions come from three major rating scales:

  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
    Questions usually utilize this rating scale to get clients to demonstrate their level of satisfaction with a product or service. Sample CSAT questions can involve a rating of customer service, product viability, website usability, and the ability of the company to resolve any issues. Usually answers are rated from 1-5 with one being lowest and five highest level of satisfaction.
  • Customer Effort Score (CES)
    This gauges the difficulty or stress of a client to achieve different tasks successfully. This crucial metric often includes a few questions rating timely resolution of problems as well as more specific questions on particular aspects of a process.

    Was a client able to get from point A to B (or A to G if they wanted) with minimal effort? The hope is that your user experience is streamlined and if not, it’s crucial to know where users are being tripped up so you can fix it right away. The ratings generally used for this range from very easy to very difficult when assessing tasks like getting to customer service or finding the correct portal. These can then be translated to a number based system.

  • Net Promoter Score ® (NPS)
    By measuring overall satisfaction, this kind of rating system is straightforward. Usually reliant on a 1-10 scale, this is a way to get an overall view of how a client is currently enjoying your product in order to see if retention may be an issue.

    Studies show that retaining customers is far less expensive than seeking new ones, and sending surveys like this one can make sure that clients feel heard and have a greater investment in remaining with your service or product.

Create an Incentive

Honest answers can be difficult to come by. Usually people are not very motivated to take a survey unless they have had an amazing or very poor experience. Incentives like a percentage off of a follow up purchase is a great way to retain clients and, perhaps, receive more balanced answers. If you create an effective survey, the information that you collect will be well worth the investment.

Some tips for survey construction:

  • Make surveys clear and concise
  • Avoid open-ended or double barrelled questions
  • Use simple short answer prompts or allow clients to judge on a scale
  • The fewer questions the better. See how much information you can manage to get in the shortest format.

The One Question Survey

It is universally considered that the shorter the survey, the more likely you have of receiving reactions. Many companies now consider a volume of diverse opinions more important than obtaining comprehensive answers from a small group.

If you have the ability to give a survey out to a large number of people (for example, a large team of clients using your enterprise software) it’s a clever strategy to ask just one or two questions to each person (randomly chosen from a longer list). Ultimately, this has been shown to garner an equal number if not significantly more responses in total to each question coming from a much broader demographic.

If you are looking for specific ideas, Nextiva put together 60 examples of excellent and probing questions that will allow you to build a solid list for your own surveys. Make sure to start with a clear objective and to remember to respect the time of your clients in order to gain the best results.


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