This is a slightly modified version of John Mariotti’s approach. I added the phrase “to a friend” because it adds an emotional element to the customer’s thinking. They think about recommendation they feel about friends.
My reason for only having these two questions are slightly different from John’s (though I like his as well). My reason is because the point of a survey is to be conversational. When you converse with someone, you don’t know exactly what they’re going to say. That’s what makes it interesting.
The reason to ask an open ended question “WHY?” is that you can’t predict what’s important to your customers. Knowing what’s important to them is the most critical insight you can get. Of course you can’t slice and dice it like you can with most surveys and that’s the point. The slicing and dicing misleads you.
Next time you’re asked to fill out a survey that has you rate things from 1-5 take as step back and see if the choices they offer are really the things that are important to you. I’ve often answered them truthfully giving all 4s and 5s – when I would never use their services again (much less recommend them to a friend). Why? Because they didn’t ask about what I care about. Sometimes I don’t even know exactly how to list what I care about so how could they?
But asking why elicits a story. And people love to tell their story.
If you want (and only if you’ll follow up) you can ask a third question.
“Would you you like us to follow up about this? If so, please give your name, email and phone. But only if you want to hear from us.”