This article appeared in the June 2018 issue of Entrepreneurial Chef Magazine

Have you ever sent a survey to your customers? Did you know what to ask? Did you know the perfect time to send it and how to present it to them so they would actually respond?

Whether you are a survey pro or never sent one in your life, sending out a survey is critical for any business to succeed. I once saw a quote that said “a satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all,” and boy is that true. If you don’t ever ask for feedback, how do you know if your customers are happy or not and what needs improvement?

Of course, you’re never going to make everyone happy – especially in the food industry – but you can certainly try. Sending a survey is definitely that first step to taking your customers’ temperature, so to speak.

How to Create it

We create our client feedback survey through a custom form we build in our email system (Infusionsoft). When someone submits this form, the answers are automatically sent back to us and stored in their contact record for us to access at any time.

If you don’t have a fancy email system that can do this, there are plenty of third-party platform options like Survey Monkey – although I don’t recommend using the free version.

The important thing with whatever platform you choose is that you can connect it to your email system, so you can store the data and that your forms look nice enough to entice people to fill them out.

Research shows that people are 3x more likely to respond to surveys that are directly embedded into your email, so make sure the forms you create can be placed right in the email, not just linked to another page.

Which Questions & How Many

The most important part of the survey is knowing what questions to ask and how many. Research shows that you should generally not ask more than 10-12 questions. People have short attention spans and don’t have a lot of time or patience to fill out a lengthy survey.

Before even asking your customer to fill out your survey, you need to answer a few questions yourself to put their minds at ease:

1) What’s the purpose of this survey? (i.e., We want to see how you’re enjoying your meals)

2) How long will it take them? (i.e., Take this short, 5-minute survey)

3) What’s in it for them?  (i.e., So we can better serve you or entry for a gift card)

You can include this information at the beginning of your email to help them better understand why you are asking them to fill it out and how it can benefit them.

The specific questions you choose for your survey will completely depend on the type of service/product you offer.

Types of Questions

  • Scale: On a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied are you with our customer service?
  • Yes or No: Would you recommend us to a friend?
  • Open-Ended Questions: How could we improve your experience?
  • Upsell question: Would you be interested in (enter product here)? These are questions that will help you gauge their interest in adding things to their service or purchasing more products from you.

Make sure you only ask necessary questions, or else they’ll get bored.

How often should you send a survey?  

We send our client feedback survey just once – 3 weeks after they start a meal delivery service with us. However, we always ask for feedback over the phone/personal emails as well since I offer a personalized meal delivery service where I work more one-on-one with clients.

You can certainly send a survey more often, but I wouldn’t send more than one every quarter, if that. If you send too many surveys, your clients will get tired of filling them out and stop answering them altogether, so make sure they serve a purpose and that you’re not just sending one to send one.

When should you send surveys?

Every email list is different (we all have different target markets), so there is really no time that will work perfectly for everyone. The best way to find out what day and time to send one, is to look at your email reports and see what day/time people are opening your emails the most. Is it Thursdays at 4 pm? Sundays at 8 pm?

For us, it’s usually Thursday around 7 pm. Do a split test and send out the same survey to two different groups at different times and see which one gets opened the most. Then you’ll know the best time is moving forward.

If a client hasn’t filled out a survey yet and it’s been a few days since I sent it, I schedule a reminder email a few days later letting them know we’re waiting for their response.

How do I get people to open my survey?  

A subject line goes a long way and will help determine if they open your email or not. Grab their attention right in their inbox (I would avoid the word “survey” in your subject line).

The best type of subject lines for surveys:

  • Personalized with their name in the subject line – Deb, tell us what you think!
  • Ask a question – What did you think?
  • Emphasize the benefits – We want to bring better meals to your table

You can include a contact’s name in your subject line through most email systems like MailChimp, Infusionsoft, and ActiveCampaign, etc.

Put a little personality/brand into it! Of course, just because you have a great subject line doesn’t guarantee they’re going to open it, but it’s a start.

What’s a good response rate?

This totally depends on how well your subscribers usually responds to your emails.

However, on average, about 15-20% of people you send surveys to will open it and only about half of them (like 10%) will actually fill it out. Some responses are better than no responses, right?

If you aren’t getting any responses, you might try offering an incentive. I saw one not too long ago that offered to put me into a drawing of a $100 Sephora gift card if I filled out a survey about a conference I went to.

The bottom line is, at the end of your day you can only do your best. Personal always works best, so if you are aren’t getting responses after all of this, pick up the phone and give them a call or send them a personal email. Sometimes speaking to them the “old fashioned” way is the most efficient.


About the Author

Chef Deb Cantrell is an award-winning, best-selling author, sought-after speaker & Senior Certified Personal Chef. For a decade, she has helped chefs across the country level-up their culinary business by teaching the same proven strategies used to grow her 6-figure personal chef company.


Entrepreneurial Chef Magazine

Get Your First Issue FREE

What do the most successful food entrepreneurs share with us? How did they build & grow their businesses? Get a taste with a free issue of the new digital mag for food entrepreneurs!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This