10 important questions to ask your customers – once you have their attention

Now that you have your customer’s attention, what do you ask them? After years of talking to customers, interviewing them and getting a feel for them for media opportunities, press releases, case studies as well as sales and analyst requests, I have boiled down the most important list of questions to ten. Sure, you’ll probably want to ask other questions based on the opportunity that you think they’re good for, but these 10 are critical to the success of your program. I generally ask these questions during a 30 minute phone interview with them to gather information for a press release and/or case study. With the exception of the first question, they are in no particular order.


1-       Do you still have time to talk? (Set the tone of the call at the very beginning and let the customer know that you value his/her time. It’s possible they got pulled into a meeting scheduled 5 minutes later or that they need to finish a last minute project for their boss.)

2-       On a scale of 0-10 (10 being the best), how likely are you to recommend <enter your product or company here>? (A quick way to find out how happy and loyal a customer is. Anything below an 8.5 and I’d think twice about putting them in front of the media.  See my previous post about this)

3-       Are you willing and able to speak to the media/analysts/references either publicly or anonymously? (This sets the stage for what you will be able to do with the customer. It’s very possible that the customer will have to ask their PR team, but it gets them thinking outside of the press release and/or case study box.)

4-       If given a media opportunity, what do you feel comfortable/not comfortable speaking about? (You want the customer to talk about what they are passionate about and don’t want to put them in an awkward position by having a reporter ask them a question you don’t want to know the answer to. This also helps you select the most appropriate customer for each opportunity)

5-       Is there a PR person that I should work with to help move the process along? (There’s nothing worse than spending time interviewing, writing and getting approvals on a press release or case study to find out that there’s a PR policy against it. This can also help reduce the amount of time your customer contact has to spend chasing down approvals.)

6-       How did you hear about <enter your product or company here>? (This is a great and fast way to figure out which Marketing programs or partners are working for your company)

7-       If you saw your CEO in the elevator, what would you tell him/her about <enter your product or company here>? (This would be the customer elevator pitch (literally) and gives you an idea of the top things that the customer sees as important or valuable with your product/company.)

8-       May I use your company logo on our Website? (This is a separate question from using them as a public reference because some companies branding is their logo and not necessarily their name. For example, professional sports teams generally won’t let anyone use their logo unless you sign a contract and pay a nice wad of cash to use it. The logos are their branding.)

9-       What publications/blogs/Websites do you read? (This will help you watch what your customers are reading and will give you a list of publications to target for pitching and advertising.)

10-    Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you want to tell me? (This is a great opportunity for your customer to tell you how great support is or how awful the Website is. In the case of negative information, take it as positive criticism. I’ve had use this time to tell me how wonderful their Sales person is and of course, I then send that information to the Sales person and :cc their boss!)


By going through this list of questions, you get a feel for what your customers are willing and able to do as well as what influences them.  You have their attention so make sure to ask the questions that you want an answer to.



One Response

  1. You made some compelling points, thanks for sharing them. Both customer satisfaction and loyalty should always be a major focus, even more so during economically challenging times. Online surveys are one of the best ways to gain insight into your customer’s mindset in order for you to market your product/brand as effectively as you can – especially when you can do the research for very little $$ or even for free.

    Studies have shown that loyal customers:
    Purchase your products and services again and again over time
    Increase the volume of their purchases
    Buy beyond traditional purchases, across product lines
    Refer your company’s products and services to others
    Become immune to the pull of the competition
    Give your company the benefit of the doubt when something goes wrong
    Keep in mind:
    It costs 7-10 times more to recruit a new customer than to keep an existing one
    A gain in customer loyalty of only 5% can lift lifetime profits per customer by as much as 95%
    An increase in loyalty of just 2% is, in some sectors, equivalent to a 10% cost reduction

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