3 Types of Customer Research Surveys for SaaS (with Example Questions)

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By Mike Hill

Last updated on Wed Mar 17 2021

So you want to send a customer research survey so you can get closer to your customers, listen to their opinions, and deliver what they want. Smart idea!

However, as a SaaS business, there are a few different types of customer research surveys you might want to send.

  1. Feedback for messaging and marketing

  2. Product and feature ideas

  3. Customer experience

For the most part, it can make send to separate out these different types of surveys and send them to segmented customers.

For example, you might want to survey long-term customers about feature ideas. After all you don’t want Chuck Churn telling you what to build.

On the other hand, customers giving you an NPS score of below 7 might be good ones to survey about customer experience.

In this post, we’ll show you what to ask and who to ask.

As experienced founders of multiple profitable SaaS companies, we know how to collect customer feedback using well-written surveys.

Customer research survey basics

Thank the Google Gods you stumbled across this article, because basic market research questions really won’t help you get closer to your SaaS customers.

Before we get to the surveys and the questions, let’s cover the basics.

Should you incentivize?

It all comes down to this—if you think your customers aren’t likely to answer your survey unless they might win a prize, then offer a prize. The right amount (if any) could have to do with how much customers like your product, their busyness, the industry, their income level, and many other factors. Also, enterprise customers might not be able to accept a pricey gift for you, so know what you’re getting into before making a final decision.

Should you make every question required?

It’s better to let people skip some questions than to abandon your survey altogether. So, go ahead and make all the questions optional, just as long as your survey tool doesn’t make it visibly noticeable that the questions are optional. You want it to be optional without encouraging people to not follow through.

Should you make it anonymous?

Make your customer research survey anonymous unless you have a good reason not to. If you’re getting feedback from enterprise customers, make it anonymous, otherwise they won’t fill out your survey.

  • Survey winners - If you need to ask for an email to notify someone if they win, then simply write at the very end of the survey, “Let us know your email address in case you win.”

  • Testimonials - If you want to convert some survey responses into testimonials, then at the end of the survey write, “Let us know your email address if you’re open to writing a testimonial about PRODUCTNAME. We won’t use your survey responses as testimonials without your permission and approval of any edits. By giving us your email, you simply give us permission to follow up about a potential testimonial.”

What types of fields should the survey have?

To get the maximum amount of customer feedback from these surveys, make the questions open ended. This way, customers tell you what they want in their own words.

The feedback is not stifled by your own assumptions.

Customer research survey #1: feedback for messaging and marketing

So what questions should you ask in a customer survey?

If your messaging isn’t landing, then you’ll want to use these customer research questions to uncover the pain points and concerns of your customers, and why your customers fork over cash to you.

All about this survey

Let’s make your messaging nothing short of fantastic, shall we?

  • What you’re trying to achieve from this survey - With this customer research questionnaire, you need to uncover two key things. 1) Why customers signed up with you in the first place and what was the pain point or situation that made them pull the trigger. 2) Why customers are still paying for your software (because sometimes that’s a different thing). You want to be able to clone your customers, so you need to understand what they wanted in that first month, and what they were looking to ultimately achieve.

  • When to send this survey - If your message isn’t feeling exciting and isn’t converting, then this is the survey for you. If something feels off, dull, boring, or too generic, then these questions can help. Or quite simply, just send this when you’re redoing your website.

  • Customer segments to send this survey to - You might want to only send to people who are properly onboarding. So, maybe you send to all customers who have been a customer for at least 2 months. Or, if you have a massive customer base, be strategic. Send the survey to the customers you want to clone. For example, if you want more customers who need more than one user, then send the survey to accounts with multiple users.

What customer research questions to ask

Here’s what to ask in a customer research survey for marketing purposes. We want to properly attribute greatness, and most of these questions are very close to what we learned from Claire Suellentrop, co-founder of Forget The Funnel and Userlist.io:

  1. How did you discover PRODUCTNAME?

  2. How much time passed between hearing about PRODUCTNAME and using PRODUCTNAME?

  3. What made you decide to try PRODUCTNAME?

  4. What was your initial reaction to or opinion of PRODUCTNAME?

  5. What happened when you first used PRODUCTNAME that made you want to continue using it?

  6. What can you do with PRODUCTNAME?

  7. How were you handling all of these tasks before?

  8. What worked and didn’t work about your old way of doing things?

  9. How has PRODUCTNAME impacted your long term goals and overall performance?

  10. What features of PRODUCTNAME could you not live without?

  11. Can you think of a specific time when PRODUCTNAME really impressed you and helped you? What happened?

  12. What are some of the unexpected benefits and results of using PRODUCTNAME?

  13. If you had to quantify the results you get from PRODUCTNAME, what numbers-based results could you share?

Customer research survey #2: product and feature ideas

Do you want to get more ideas for your SaaS product? The best way to do this is with a Frill idea board. However, if you want to get a big influx of new ideas, or feedback on a feature idea, then you can use a survey.

Frill > Feedback Board > Ideas

Use your survey as a way to promote your Frill idea board, so customers know where to give you feedback in the future. On the thank you page, link to your idea board, which is where you can collect customer feedback, respond to feedback, and move feedback to your roadmap.

All about this survey

  • What you’re trying to achieve from this survey - You want clarity.

  • When to send this survey- Use this survey if you’re struggling with which direction to take a certain feature, or to know what would be the most useful thing to build next. Maybe you’re considering different use cases for your product and want to know which one to build out more fully.

  • Customer segments to send this survey to - Send this survey to customers that have fully adopted your product. Segment users based on their behavior, or if you don’t have advanced product analytics, then use the length of their engagement with you.

Of course, as a SaaS entrepreneur, you should also have a clear vision for your own product, _and _you should talk with real customers on UX interviews. A survey isn’t the end all be all when it comes to building features.

What customer research questions to ask

  1. What are your favorite features in PRODUCTNAME?

  2. How do those features improve your ability to [overarching statement about your product offers]?

  3. Do any features of PRODUCTNAME hinder you or slow you down?

  4. Is there anything you miss about your old way of doing things (what you used or did before PRODUCTNAME)?

  5. If you could change a few things about PRODUCTNAME, what would you change?

  6. Why do you want to see those changes or improvements?

  7. Is there anything else you have to say about PRODUCTNAME or our team?

Notice how we added an experience focused question at the end.

Customer research survey #3: customer experience improvements

Of course, product and messaging aren’t everything. Especially if you serve enterprise customers, you need to collect information about the overall customer experience, from onboarding to customer success.

All about this survey

  • What you’re trying to achieve from this survey - You want to know if there’s anything that your team could be doing better to make it a no brainer for customers to keep paying you.

  • When to send this survey - When you want to improve your customer onboarding, serve more enterprise customers, improve the customer success services you offer, etc.

  • Customer segments to send this survey to - You could send this survey to your entire user base, especially if you’re asking about onboarding. Or, if you just want to target the top-paying accounts on your big enterprise plans, you could do that too.

What customer research questions to ask

If you don’t offer whiteglove onboarding or CS, you’ll want to adjust these questions slightly.

  1. How did the onboarding process go?

  2. Was there anything the PRODUCTNAME team could have done better to help you with onboarding?

  3. Does PRODUCTNAME team help you get results?

  4. What other services or training should we provide?

  5. Is there anything about the product that you would like to see changed?

Notice how we open up dialogue for product focused suggestions here with the final questions.

If you want, you can pick and choose 3 - 4 questions from each customer feedback survey, but make sure that any survey you send isn’t more than about 15 questions.

Frill  > Roadmap

Of course, collecting customer feedback isn’t a one time thing. You want an open dialogue between you and your customers.

To easily collect feedback, implement it, and announce chances, check out Frill.

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