Smiley Survey Keys on Keyboard (buttons satisfaction smileys)

How effective are you at listening to your customers? Do you have your finger on the pulse of their experience with you?

If you really start to invite their feedback, you might just be surprised at some of the answers to those questions.

And then, when you ask, don’t just hear their answers, listen to them. Because we all know there is a big difference.

Hearing goes in one ear and out the other; listening causes positive change to happen.

Throughout the years of my career as a business consultant, I’ve created and administered many surveys for clients using the best survey apps available to-date. And I’ve learned a few things along the way. If the survey is crafted well, the feedback one can receive is invaluable. Some of those clients used the information to better their business; others, unfortunately, let the results sit in a computer folder to collect the proverbial dust.

The ones who used the data are those committed to constant improvement. Every day they are looking for ways to better their business so they can differentiate themselves among the competition.

You have new athletes sign up on a regular basis. Do you:

  • Know why they chose you?
  • Know what their other choices are for getting fit (another gym, outdoor sports and recreation, a treadmill, a sports league, etc.)?  
  • What do they like and not like about these choices?
  • What else have they tried before deciding on you? Who else did they consider?

All of this is important knowledge to have as you’re building out your successful business. Because more than likely, if one person considers an option other than you, so will many others. An intake survey is a great idea to capture the pulse of new folks coming in right away. Immediately upon sign up, have them fill out a survey with questions such as:

  • How’d you hear about us?
  • What are all the regular ways you pursue fitness?
  • What were the biggest factors that kept you from signing up at CF xyz (cost, intimidation, etc.) when you initially heard about us?
  • Before joining CF xyz, where did you work out?
  • In 3-5 words, how would you have described CF before you joined?
  • Did you know anyone at CF xzy before signing up?
  • How long was it from when you first heard about CF xyz to when you actually signed up?
  • What pushed you over the edge and made you sign up?
  • What stood out to you about us?

These are all data points that will help you market better to new people. Knowing answers to questions such as these will connect you to the feelings and buying patterns of those who aren’t yet members.

But, what’s maybe even more important is to survey your existing athletes. Survey those who’ve been with you 6 months and those who’ve been with you for the long-term.

A few things to remember as you prepare to create and administer a survey:

  1. Keep the survey short and concise. Set the expectations in your survey invitation email. It shouldn’t take someone longer than 10 minutes to fill it out. The questions should be multiple choice or short answer. Try to avoid long prose, open-ended questions. If people think it will take up too much of their time, they’ll either not start it or stop halfway through.
  2. Offer an incentive for completing the survey. Put everyone’s name in a drawing to win a gift basket of products you sell, or a gift card, or something they’d be interested in winning. Announce the winner on social media with a picture of them holding their winnings.
  3. Distribute the survey link in as many places as possible. Your newsletter, an email to all members, a private FB page for members, have a computer set up at the front desk, etc. More places (reminders) will ensure more responses.
  4. Keep the responses confidential. Make sure you assure your participants that their personal details will be kept safe and won’t be shared outside of your team. And tell them that specific details about a certain coach won’t be disclosed to that coach, you’ll just use the data for general coaching with your team.
  5. Don’t allow yourself to get defensive when reading responses. Negative responses are hard for anyone to read. I get it. But, their perspective is their truth. You will get over-the-top positive responses and you will get difficult to read negative responses. Both are useful. Even if you disagree with their feedback, what they are telling you is valuable. By actively listening to them you will strengthen your relationship. You can’t just push the constructive criticism under the rug. If the results aren’t what you want, (first consider the source then) embrace the feedback and do something about it.
  6. Use the survey data to open lines of communication on why you do what you do. Use the data for future blog posts, for instruction during classes, for your onboarding process. Use all the data you receive as teaching moments.
  7. Review the survey data with your team (partners, coaches, staff). You are not the only one who can learn from the feedback. Hold team meeting to review the results so that you can all get on the same page of your member’s experiences. Take time to thoughtfully review survey responses and consider their implications.

There are three free survey tools we’ve used that you can check out:

  • TypeForm –  This is my favorite because the survey theme options are more creative and fun than other survey forms.
  • Google Forms – This is a powerful free tool that can populate the responses directly into a spreadsheet. If you choose to use Google forms, this article will be helpful to read first.
  • Survey Monkey – a well-known tool, but you can only include 10 questions and get 100 responses with the free version.

Many don’t know what questions to ask to get the best feedback, so we’ve created a sample survey with introduction to get you started. Feel free to use any or all of it for your next survey.

Sample Survey

It’s that time again!  We value your thoughts and opinions and use them to make us and our athlete’s experiences better each year. The things we do, we do because of your feedback, your suggestions and your desires! Your honest and open comments are much appreciated. We will continue the things right that we know you love and begin to work on getting better at the things you’d like to see changed.

This survey should take no longer than 10 minutes to complete. Those who complete the survey will be entered in a drawing to win a new “xxx”. Please have your response submitted by ___.  Please have your response submitted by [insert date] to be entered in the drawing. 

Rest assured, your candid responses will be kept safe and won’t be shared outside of our team. The more honest you can be, the better we will all become.

Thanks in advance for helping us make CF XYZ your most favorite place of your week!

1. Name

2. How long have you been a member at [company name]?

  • 6 months or less
  • 6 months to 1 year
  • 1 year to 2.5 years
  • 2.5 years +

3. Age

  • <25
  • 25-35
  • 36-45
  • 46-55
  • 56-65
  • 65+

4. Classes/programs you would like to see. Please add anything to comments that you would like to see not listed. (1 = Least, 5 = Most)

  • Strength/Oly Class
  • Mobility (20-30 minutes class)
  • Rehab (focus on those with injuries)
  • Gymnastic
  • CrossFit Kids
  • Cross Training for other sports (running, skiing, mountain biking, etc.)
  • Open Gym Hours
  • Other/Comments:

5. What is your average routine at [company name]?

  • 1-2 times per week
  • 3 times per week
  • 4 times per week
  • 5 – 5+ times per week

6. What is the best way to communicate events and happenings at [company name] with you?

  • Flyers at gym
  • E-mail
  • Website
  • Comments:

7. When adding class times to our schedule, what would be the most convenient time for you to attend?

8. What types of events would you be interested in attending and inviting your friends to (WOD & Wine, Barbells & Bourbon, Field Day, Pool Party, Restaurant, other)?

9. When would be the best time for you to attend these events (after work, in the evening, on a Saturday, a Sunday, other)?

10. If we were to carry retail products at CF XYZ, what products would you be interested in?

11. How satisfied are you with your coaches? (1 = Least, 5 = Most). In comment section, please provide feedback on what could make your experience with the coaches better.

12. What’s one thing we do better than others you do business with?

13. What’s one thing we could do to create a better experience for you?

14. How likely is it that you would recommend CF XYZ to a friend or colleague? (1 = Not Likely At All, 5 = Extremely Likely/I Do All The Time)


Gathering feedback from those who use your services has many benefits. A few of those are: 1) understand the buying cycle and behaviors of new members; 2) understand the pain points of current members, and 3) set up email campaigns for new and “old” members to keep them engaged.

The mere act of surveying a customer can increase satisfaction. By doing this you are communicating that you care what they think. But follow-up is where the real power lies. Make phone calls. Talk with them in person. Shoot them an email to get clarification and hear them out. All of this will increase your customer loyalty ten-fold.

It’s important to know your numbers, but at the end of the day, there’s no more important business measure than the voice of your customers. And when they speak, make sure you really listen.


This post was written by Julie Weldon.