Nine Customer Survey Best Practices For Wellness Businesses

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Customer surveys give health clubs, corporate wellness providers and wellness centers an extra competitive edge.

Experts say that keeping an extra 5% of your current customers improves your bottom line by as much as 95% — and customer surveys are “early detection systems” to help you keep that extra 5%.

1. Determine your survey’s goal.

Useful surveys are not fishing expeditions. They’re effective because they start with a specific goal in mind.

Let’s use a wellness center as an example. Do you want to find out what new members think about their experiences with your person training staff? Maybe you’re more interested in whether families are happy with your family-oriented programs and child care. Or perhaps you’re more concerned about customers who haven’t bought anything this year.

As you think about your survey, ask yourself if you would clearly know what action to take based on either favorable or unfavorable answers in each area. If not, make your goal more specific.

2. Decide which factors you want to measure.

When you design a customer survey, measure concrete factors that your business can control. Examples include facility hours, service policies, variety and price of products and services, and quality of staff.

Avoid general topics like “Do you think Starlight Wellness Center is a good choice?”. “Good” means different things to different people, and you have no way of knowing how each respondent interpreted it.

That makes it hard to take action on the survey responses. Say 90% of the responses are “No, I do not think Starlight is a good choice.” You won’t know if you need a better lit parking lot or more professional staff.

3. Decide when and how often you’ll survey customers.

Customer satisfaction surveys are generally transactional — they’re conducted after a certain number of transactions or visits to your business or to a specific department in your business. For example, you may want to survey all members who had a billing adjustment. Or you may want to survey all new members during the first thirty days. Or you want to survey everyone who tries a new nutritional product or stress management workshop.

Choose a frequency that won’t burden the customer. For example, if your typical client meets with a wellness coach twice weekly, sending a survey after each session is overkill. But a once-every-month survey might be acceptable.

4. Choose your topics.

Limit your survey to no more than ten questions to avoid high abandonment rates.

Typical Areas To Survey
Programs, Services & Products Customer Experience Key Functions & Processes

Value vs price


Sales process and experience



Key program areas like:



Nutrition, personal training,



wellness coaching, disease


Initiative in resolving problems

management, workshops, yoga



and mind/body programs, etc.


Complaint handling

Up-to-date offerings Professionalism and effectiveness


Upkeep & cleanliness


Ease of use




You might also want to take your customer’s pulse on front desk, check-out, billing and cancellation procedures, or service delivery matters like scheduling and follow-ups.

You can also ask demographic questions, like race and ethnicity, gender, and income level. However, be sure that you’ll actually use the data. Otherwise you risk offending your customer for no good reason — or pestering them for so much information that they just don’t want to participate.

Typical Demographic Questions
Sample Business Questions Sample Consumer Questions
What industry are you in? Where do you live? (neighborhood, city, etc.)
What size is your company? What is your gender
What department do you work in? What is your age range
What is your job title? What is your educational level
Do you use a computer at work? What is your household income range

Do you have a desk job?

What is your family size?

  What are your hobbies & interests?

The bottom line: make sure everything you ask about relates to your overall goal.

5. Write the survey questions.

Follow these seven guidelines — and pay close attention to the examples!

a) You can use either questions or statements in your survey. Just be consistent.

  • Example: Was your personal trainer on time?
  • Example: My personal trainer was on time.

b) Be specific.

  • How was your wellness coaching session?
  • Problem: Too vague. Better: Did your wellness coaching session give you specific tips to use when you got home?

c) Avoid jargon and acronyms that customers may not know.

  • Did your personal trainer explain your plan using your RMR, THR and V02max?
  • Problem: Customers may not recognize these abbreviations.

d) Keep it neutral – avoid loaded questions and leading language.

  • Are you in favor of using well-researched nutritional supplements?
  • Problem: Who wouldn’t be? If you want to know what customers think, ask a neutral question.

e) Avoid “double-barreled” questions that actually ask multiple questions.

  • Do you prefer to consume dairy or non-dairy protein supplements?
  • Problem: This is really two questions. Do they consume protein supplements? And IF they do, is their preference dairy or non-dairy?

f) Make sure people can choose only one appropriate response.

  • What type of workout do you prefer? a) cardio b) strength c) group fitness
  • Problem: Customers may see group fitness as containing both cardio and strength elements.

g) Don’t make assumptions in your questions.

  • What type of workout do you prefer? a) classes b) one-on-one c) home video
  • Problem: This assumes the customer already works out. What if the person is new to fitness?

h) Keep the question format simple.

Don’t ask customers questions that respond them to rank items across both columns and rows, for example.

i) Include a “Comments” box on every question.

One of the most common reason that customers fail to finish a survey is that the response choices don’t feel right to them. Include open-ended text entry boxes and you may be surprised at what you find out.

6. Choose a scoring method.

For questions which ask for a customer’s opinion or preference, we recommend the Likert scale. Most customers will be familiar with it.

1 2 3 4 5 N/A



Mixed feelings








Not sure






Not at all




Not sure







Put the low end of the scale on the left and the high end of the scale on the right, as shown above. It’s also usually a good idea to include “not applicable” as a choice.

7. Test your survey.

Ask a few people to test-drive your survey before you publish it for customers to use. Ideally, choose testers that are similar to your customers. You can even ask a few customers to test it for you before you finalize it.

After they fill it out, ask them what they thought each question meant. Find out if anything confused them, or if certain areas seemed ambiguous. Ask them if any questions that seemed inappropriate, irrelevant or intrusive. Ask them if the survey was too long and how likely they would be to finish it in a “real life” situation.

8. Decide how to administer your survey.

We prefer web-based survey tools. They’re usually free for very small surveys and affordable for larger surveys. The advantage is that these services compile and analyze the results for you, automatically updating them each time someone responds.

You’ll need to decide how to direct customers to these surveys. For example, you can e-mail a link to the survey, refer customers to your website and link to the survey from there, give customers a card with the web address on it, or have a public computer that they can use at your facility.

Of course, you can also use a paper-and-pencil survey. The downside is that your staff will have to manually compile and analyze the results. Our observation is that many smaller health and wellness businesses simply never get around to actually doing this.

9. Decide how to motivate customers to participate.

Let customers know early and often that you want them to participate in your survey. For example, if you want feedback on a class, announce that when people register and again at each session.

Sharing information about actions your business took based on prior surveys is a good way to demonstrate your commitment.

You may also consider a small gift in exchange for completing the survey (remember to ask for contact info). For example, you could offer an extra month of membership, an extra coaching session, a complimentary smoothie or product sample, or an invitation to a special workshop.