Exit Interviews: The Questions You Must Ask

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Are you looking for an easy way to grow your business? Do you wonder why your customers come and go? Exit interviews help businesses understand the customer experience. These interviews can be done in different ways. Some businesses will send their customers email surveys after a purchase or service is completed. In some situations, face-to-face interviews are the best choice.

Get the Answers you Need

No matter how you conduct an interview, it’s important to frame questions properly to get the answers you seek. Understand that no matter how good the questions are, if you have dissatisfied customers, they may not be willing to answer any questions.

Your questions should fit your business model and be prefaced by a friendly rationale for your questions (in a sentence or two). It also helps to offer something in exchange for the information, maybe a coupon or gift card, an entry into a drawing, or a link to some premium content.

Multiple-Choice Questions to Ask

If you are conducting an exit interview through a survey, you will most likely need to use multiple-choice questions. Survey links will include either statements or questions that have a range of answers like

  • Always, sometimes, or never.
  • Agree, nuetral, disagree, or strong disagree.

While multiple-choice options will give you data to use, the answers do not usually tell a complete story.  Your questions or statements could include:

  • It was easy to find the products I needed.
  • How often did you work with a customer service representative?
  • A customer service representative contacted me after I made a purchase.
  • The prices were affordable for my budget.
  • Other companies had more options that fit my budget.

Open-Ended Questions to Ask

Your exit interview questions should address exactly what information you want to know. Open-ended questions allow customers to leave precise information with more context than multiple-choice options. Here are a few to consider:

  • What was positive about the product or service you purchased?
  • What was negative about the product or service you purchased?
  • What changes or improvements would you like to see to that product or service?
  • Why did you choose to stop buying the product or service?
  • What could we have done differently to keep your business?
  • How do you rate the way our employees treated you?
  • What do you think about our prices?

Be Prepared for What You Might Hear

All too often, former clients will give reasons like “We decided to go in a different direction” when they end a business relationship. By conducting an exit interview, you can learn the exact reason why they left and what you could do to keep their business or other customers’ business in the future. With actionable data, you can fix the problem. To get actionable data, it is important to ask questions that will get useful answers, especially if they are connected to actual flaws that you think your business might have.

You might not like what the exit interviews show about your business, but that information can be life-changing. As a small business owner, you might be quick to react defensively, but it is best to simply take in the feedback, think about it, and then make adjustments accordingly. You might even be able to make a change that brings back former customers.

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Kristen Bentley is a veteran high school English teacher who has been a freelance writer for several years. She even teaches a freelance writing course to high school seniors. As a former small business owner, she understands the stages from writing a business plan to hiring the best people.