The Power of One Simple Question

I like this. If you want real customer feedback, keep it simple. My friend Stephen Lahey, of Small Business Talent, understand email, and who he’s talking to, when he asks his small business owner clients one simple question:

Stephen Lahey simple survey

“When you think of me and our working relationship, what are the five adjectives that first come to mind?”

The illustration here on this post shows the survey link he offered. There it is, a single question, with the promise of “done” showing right there on the submit button.

And — no surprise — this keep-it-simple strategy works great for getting responses. The subject line of the email was “Single Question Survey.” The open rate was higher than average, almost all who opened clicked-through to view the survey, and about 60% of this number actually submitted survey feedback. Those are really good results.

I think that’s a brilliant example of how to use data and surveys, and get people to join in. Even though yesterday I posted Don’t base business decisions on data and statistics on Up and Running, which contradicts this post, I still think this is brilliant. And yes, the one does contradict the other.  That happens all the time.

Steve said:

The feedback I received was consistent and encouraging. But it wasn’t exactly what I expected — it challenged my assumptions. Valuable? Yes, indeed.

And he makes this point:

My point? If you want to understand the reality of your brand, then don’t assume anything. Ask your clients for their feedback. I think that you’ll find it’s an eye opening experience.

Yes. Well said. Great example.




  • Nicholas Rooney says:

    That’s such a simple question that I simply would have never thought of asking customers. I’m sure there’s a few startups that could benefit from such a simple approach!

  • Chris O'Byrne says:

    Excellent! I recently switched to a simple two-question exit survey with my customers and am I definitely getting more (and better) responses.

  • Stephen Lahey says:

    Thank you so much for sharing my client survey experience, Tim! After thirteen years of self-employment, I think that the message – keep things simple whenever possible – is one of my favorites.

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