Find Out What Your Clients Really Want: Creating an Effective Survey

Jan 1 2018

by Laura Mixon Camacho

The Southern Coterie blog: "Find Out What Your Clients Really Want: How to Create a Survey" by Laura Mixon Camacho (photo: Chanterelle Photography)In American businesses, communication quality ranges from non-existent to really bad. It’s a completely understandable trend given the dynamics and complexity of our market and changing workforce with four generations working together. Nevertheless, what my clients really want is NOT communication skills training. What my clients really want is higher productivity, engagement and performance. Somehow, they find “communication skills” boring.

It’s not so obvious to know what your clients REALLY want.

Thing is, to grow your business, it is imperative that you use the language of your client to describe the problems that your products and services solve.

Example: No one is interested in communication skills training but if you get to know them, you find they fear public speaking, or have a problem saying “no” to unreasonable requests or are unable to read between the lines. You also learn they don’t listen well. All of these involve communication skills. People only hear you when you talk about your service in terms of what’s in their head. Only then can you actually connect.

Let’s say you help people with stress. You begin to describe details of your mindfulness training and watch in horror as their eyes glaze over. The person who struggles with stress thinks she just needs to relax and has no idea what mindfulness really is. Talk about how to relax and you’ve got their attention.

In a personal conversation, it’s not too difficult to find out what’s on people’s minds. But what if you want to know what a hundred people, or several hundred (or thousands of) people are thinking about when it comes to  your area of expertise?

Your secret power tool is a community survey. But hold on….not just any survey will do.

Crafting an Effective Survey

Your survey has to be short. To this end, it’s tempting to give multiple-choice answers, which is helpful if you need to know how a person would choose among the options you have available.

However and this is super importante, multiple choice answers do NOT give you the language your client prefers to discuss her issues. #beentheredonethat

Before you craft your survey, get crystal super clear on what you want to know and why. The most valuable approach involves learning how the client thinks about your area of expertise and she is not an expert. The clients’ language and worldview need to drive what questions you ask and how what language you use.

Starting with only three questions is a good practice and after those you can offer a bonus (optional) question. These can be answered in less than 2 minutes.

Craft questions to reflect your brand’s personality. These are the exact questions I used in my last survey:

  1. What is going really well for you right now?
  2. What do you feel like you need in order to reach your professional goals faster?
  3. If I could wave my magic wand and make life at work better for you, what would you ask me to do?

Bonus: Anything else you want to share?

Other possibilities for extracting what’s really on your client’s mind.

Offer a Carrot

Now to sweeten the pot. This may be hard to believe but your response rate will go up if you offer some sort of reward for taking their precious time, even if it’s only 2 minutes. You can offer something to everyone, like a digital “99 Ways to Wear Gingham” or “Best Cocktails Ever List”. Or, draw a name out of the hat from those who complete the survey.


If done properly, surveys give you the goods on what your clients and prospects really want. Go for open-ended questions, not multiple choice. Keep it to 3 – 5 questions. Offer a some sort of reward.

Then when they ask you how you’re able to read their minds, just smile, sigh and change the subject. Now you know what your clients really want.


Laura Mixon Camacho View More Blog Posts from this Author

Laura Mixon Camacho, PhD, is obsessed with communication as a tool for building bridges and careers. She believes all conversations should be carried out with style and imagination. And public speaking is just a special sort of conversation. Laura creates quirky communication workshops and she does private one-to-one coaching. She is the go-to coach if you want to improve your communication skills to move your business or career forward with more confidence, more impact and less stress. Read more at

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