30 Examples of Open-Ended Questions for Business Surveys

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated June 28, 2022 | Published February 25, 2020

Updated June 28, 2022

Published February 25, 2020

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A small business owner smiles as they hand over a paper bag to a customer.

Open-ended survey questions can give you valuable insight into the effectiveness of your sales or marketing campaigns. Respondents can use the opportunity to discuss their experiences with your company in their own words, which may improve various ways of working.

In this article, we'll explain the importance of open-ended questions in surveys and provide 30 examples of open-ended questions, with strategies to help you connect with your customers.

Why open-ended questions are helpful

An open-ended question is broad, and it provokes a unique answer. By contrast, a closed-ended question is narrow and typically elicits a "yes" or "no" response, which limits the quality of information given.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. It just depends on how deep of an answer you are seeking. If you're looking for answers that give you an in-depth look at the quality of your products and customer service, open-ended questions are usually more helpful.

Related: 15 Common Phone Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

30 examples of open-ended questions

Asking open-ended questions will produce feedback that explains what kind of experience a customer had with your company. Here are 30 examples of open-ended questions you may want to ask in your next business survey:

1. What are the main reasons you chose to shop today?

There is always a reason behind a purchase. When specifically asking your customer about the reasons they chose to shop, you may learn something you hadn't previously known about effective sales and marketing techniques.

2. How did you feel about our customer service?

By focusing on customer service, you may discover something new about the way your company presents itself. This question can be a great place to start when it comes to educating your team about providing a positive customer service experience.

Related: How to Communicate Effectively with a Difficult Team

3. Where did you look before coming to our store?

Most people will shop around for the best deals before making a purchase. Finding out where your customers shop not only tells you who your competitors are, but it also shows you their level of loyalty. You may find that issuing a reward or implementing a customer loyalty program will help you retain customers.

4. Would you use our [product/service] again?

This question is very straightforward when it comes to learning more about your product or service. It's direct and should reveal any qualms regarding quality.

5. What did you like best about your experience?

Focusing on the positive aspects of the customer experience can help remove any concerns a customer may have. For example, the customer may have been helped in the store right away but was disappointed in the long wait at the checkout line. By asking about the best part of their experience, they have a chance to remember what they did enjoy, which may outweigh any negatives.

Related: How To Ask for Feedback from Customers

6. What had the biggest influence on your purchase and why?

The buyer's journey can be simple or complex, depending on the individual. Asking this open-ended question will reveal their reasoning behind their purchase and should help you get a unique response.

7. How did you find us?

When asking "how" questions, you may learn the action behind a customer's purchase or inquiry. You may learn that the customer found your business by driving past it, reading about it in an ad or hearing about it from a friend or family member. This can help direct your marketing plan in the future.

8. How would you describe your experience with us?

This is another way of asking about the customer experience to elicit a broad and unique response. By mixing up the way you say it, you may appeal to a larger audience that is more willing to answer the survey question.

Related: Customer Satisfaction: 70 Questions for Feedback

9. What can we do to help you find what you're looking for?

By asking what you as a company can do to help fulfill the needs of your customer, you are offering assistance that helps validate the emotional needs of the buyer. You may get a response, like "I just need help finding...," that will allow you to encourage open dialogue for further discussion.

10. How can we make this webpage/store better?

There is always room for improvement, and by asking how you can improve your webpage or store, you may uncover information that will simplify the shopping experience, which will in turn, generate more revenue.

11. How did you find what you were looking for?

You may have noticed that this open-ended question focuses on the "how" of the purchase. This is another way of asking about the customer experience from a different perspective.

12. How did you hear about us?

Most businesses want to know how customers found them so they can evaluate their advertising methods. Spending money on digital advertising, print advertising and similar methods can provide a valuable return on investment. Surprisingly, word-of-mouth can also sometimes be the number one source of your brand's awareness.

Related: Voice of the Customer: Definition, Benefits and How-To Guide

13. What is stopping you from [action] today?

Customers may not always agree to doing things you would like them to do, such as completing a purchase or signing a contract. By asking what is stopping them from these things, you may be able to resolve any objections.

14. What is most important to you right now?

As a business owner or sales or marketing professional, you may find that asking this question evokes a genuine response from respondents. You may learn something that can help you empathize with the customer and assist them further.

15. Why did you choose that item/service?

This question will help you learn the reasoning behind the item or service selected. For example, they might have bought new pajamas for their child who has outgrown everything and may buy more if the sale is appealing. Were You can also find out if they were buying for a special occasion or just for fun.

Related: Consumer vs. Customer: Here's What You Need To Know

16. What are your main questions or concerns about [product/service]?

By asking this question, you are prompting the customer to ask you questions of their own. They may not have any, or this may give them the chance to ask something they were thinking about but may not have wanted to go out of their way to ask.

17. What persuaded you to [take action] today?

Maybe nothing persuaded them at all, but if it did, you will likely want to know as a business owner or researcher. For example, it could have been a special sale or five-star review that ultimately led them to the purchase. This information will help you understand what aspects of your website or marketing strategies are working well.

18. What did you enjoy most about our site/store?

This is another way of focusing on the customer's positive experience. By using the word "enjoy," you are helping to evoke an emotional response of happiness and asking the customer to remember the good things they may have experienced instead of the bad.

Related: 25 Testimonial Questions To Ask Your Customers (With Examples)

19. What qualities do you look for in a product?

This question gives the customer a chance to focus on a product's particular qualities before giving an answer. When a customer is perusing the aisles in search of something, you will learn exactly what those things are.

20. What can we improve?

This question is another example of assuming that your business, services or stores can benefit from improvement. Asking customers directly how to improve areas like these can provide you with solutions you may not have thought about.

21. What process did you go through to determine your needs?

Asking about a customer's thought process is another way to learn the how and why behind a purchase. This question should give you information about the steps taken to complete a purchase.

Related: How the Marketing Funnel and Its Stages Work (With Examples)

22. What are your most important purchases and why are they important?

Another way of discovering the importance of a purchase, this question goes even further by asking not only what is important, but why it's important.

23. What are your top priorities when it comes to online shopping?

Much like the previous question, this question involves asking what factors take priority during a customer's shopping experience. This is another way of learning what drives a purchase, like cost, time or ease.

24. How long did it take you to complete your transaction?

Whether in-store or online, it takes time to add items to the cart. This question should give you a good idea about how long customers spend on your site before buying or in the store before walking up to the register.

Related: Customer Experience vs. User Experience: What's the Difference?

25. What goals would you like to accomplish?

This is another way to find out the reasons behind a sale. Some people are very goal-driven, and by using this verbiage, you may learn additional things about the purchase that you would not have learned with different words.

26. Where do you turn for inspiration?

This is a great open-ended question that can be asked of anyone at any time. It can be applied to any situation to gain insight into the thought process and motives of a person. In sales or marketing, the answer may provide suggestions to improve a company's creative strategies.

Related: 6 Ways To Find Your Passion for a More Fulfilling Life

27. What challenges are you facing at this moment?

This question focuses on the challenges a person may be having in life that are unrelated to their customer experience. Of course, a challenge could mean not being able to buy something in the size they wanted. Broad questions help you understand what is going on in their mind, which can help you provide a better overall experience for them.

28. Why did you choose us over our competitors?

It may be cost-related or due to some other reason, but asking directly why your customer chose your business over another helps you get a specific answer you may be looking for. It can also help you gain insight into which business practices you're doing right.

29. Tell me about your experience.

This open-ended question, which is really more of a prompt than a question, can be applied in many situations to encourage an open dialogue. It says "I want to listen" and should provide the opportunity for a thoughtful and meaningful answer.

Related: 10 Tips for Creating a Positive Customer Service Experience

30. How soon will you be shopping with us again?

This direct question isn't as common as some others, but it should get a customer thinking about if and when they will be back to your store or site. You may learn right away if they are a one-time or repeat customer.

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