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Your “drop dead” question for a customer survey

Here’s the question:

Sean Ellis, the marketing guru behind DropBox and other successes, advises clients that “The most important question on a survey is, ‘How would you feel if you could no longer use this product?’”  He goes on to quantify the response.  If more than forty percent of the respondents say they would be “very disappointed,” then the product should go viral and be a great success.  Conversely, if less than ten percent say this, those companies or products would have a hard time getting traction in the marketplace.

Why it’s a great question

What a great test.  It reminds us that our customers, especially early adapters, must want to continue to use our products to the extent that they “would be very disappointed” if unable to do so in the future.

Other question for a great survey

What other questions could we wrap around this critical one to form a great survey that is both short enough and powerful enough to be relevant to our marketing effort, let along our R&D and production efforts?

Using Sean again as a source, we might ask: “How did you discover our company?” and provide several checkbox answers, including ‘friend or colleague.’  Again, it is a sign of a viral marketing effort to get more than forty percent checking that box.  Then “Have you recommended our company to anyone?”  Use just ‘yes’ and ‘no’ as possible answers and look for more than fifty percent ‘yes’ responses.

…and the closing question for your survey

[Email readers, continue here…]   And there is always the great open-door question: “Would it be OK if we followed up by email to request a clarification to one or more of your responses?”  If more than fifty percent say “yes” you have a real hit on your hands.  It means you can use this respondent as a resource for case studies and marketing quotes in the future.

Keep your survey very short to insure many responses.  But do include at least one specific question about your product to be sure the respondent is an actual customer.

A final word: Other kinds of surveys

Most of us know of the “net promoter score” which is the ultimate survey.  One question. “On a scale of zero to ten, how likely are you to recommend our business to a friend or colleague?”  You’ll find more about this with a simple search.

Then there are the long surveys where you could attempt to find more about satisfaction with service, delivery time, quality of product, packaging and more.  You’ll soon find that the more questions you ask, the fewer responses you receive. The fact is that most of us will jump out of such a survey after seeing more than three or four short questions.

Which brings us back to the “drop dead” question and short survey we’ve outlines above. Be careful, short and focus only upon the most important question(s) to get the most responses and best answers.  Good luck!

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