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In “A Philosophy for Listening,” I outlined the principles that guide the listening strategy of the Salesforce Customer Success Group, which are grounded in our commitment to “success for all.” This means the feedback we collect is targeted at understanding the perceptions of everyone we touch so we can deliver the guidance, resources, and support they need to achieve their objectives.

I also hinted at the fact that the art of listening isn’t about the questions we ask but more about understanding customers’ needs at each stage of the life cycle. Since that post was published, I’ve received a lot of questions about the questions we ask (go figure!). So, I suppose there’s no better time than now to provide a peek into the types of questions we ask to solicit meaningful feedback from our customers.

Fortunately, most people recognize customer feedback is extremely valuable. Unfortunately, this often results in a desire to move extremely quickly to capture it. This is why many people simply want to see the questions we ask. If we’ve spent so much time strategizing about what we ask, why can’t they just leverage that work for themselves? Well, it’s because a good question is based on what you’re asking a customer to evaluate as well as the specific thing you want a customer to measure. Sounds simple, right? It actually is — and there’s nothing proprietary about it either. But when people are scrambling to begin capturing customer feedback quickly, they have a tendency to skip over these important considerations. So, let me lay it out for you:


What are you evaluating?


At Salesforce, we categorize feedback into one of three types, each with a specific objective:


  1. The Relationship: This feedback measures customer perceptions about their overall relationship with Salesforce.

  2. The Interaction: This feedback solicits input on a specific interaction we have with our customers — Services engagements, Technical Support interactions, events, and beyond. These are oftentimes considered “transactional,” but many of the interactions we measure in this category are too in-depth and long-running to be considered as such.

  3. The Product: This feedback is specifically designed to inform the development of future product features and offerings.


What are you measuring?


Again, this isn’t rocket science. There are a finite number of things to measure, and they don’t vary a whole lot from one company to another. At Salesforce, we care that our customers are happy (satisfaction), that they find us useful (value), and that we’re easy to work with (effort).

This means we have a common set of measurements we use across all categories of feedback:

  • Satisfaction: Overall perception of an interaction, a product, or offering.

  • Value: Perceived worth or usefulness related to time, money, and/or effort invested.

  • Effort: The level of ease in using, engaging, or interacting with Salesforce.


What’s the trick?


I’d love to tell you that we have some “special sauce” we can hand over to help you write highly effective survey questions. The truth is, it just requires careful thought to ensure your question and response options align to what you’re asking customers to evaluate and what aspects of their experience you want to measure. It’s highly customized but not particularly complicated.


Opportunity to excel


That said, it’s possible to craft thoughtful, well-designed questions that don’t result in great insights or even a positive feedback experience for customers. That’s why it’s important to probe in the right areas to understand why customers have ultimately responded in a particular way. Using probing questions in a smart and economical way is an important key to an actionable survey that isn’t too burdensome for customers. This requires a foundational — even if anecdotal — understanding of current customer perceptions to do it well. It’s another reason why this post isn’t simply a cut-and-paste of our questions.

Thoughtful probing questions can also mimic the back-and-forth style of an in-person conversation, which generally feels more intelligent and authentic. It’s another way of demonstrating that the goal of the feedback is to improve the customer experience above everything else. And that makes customers feel good.

Interested in more about the Salesforce Listening Strategy? Check out “‘How to Master Always-On Measurement” and “Closing the Loop with the Full Power of Salesforce.”