I couldn’t produce my best work for clients without sending them an initial questionnaire.
I know it may sound like a bit of an exaggeration, but client questionnaires are essential to my website design process. It’s so important that before I get started on a new project, I require my clients to complete a questionnaire.
My client questionnaire has evolved over time, causing me to add and subtract certain questions, but there are several questions that never change. That’s what I’m going to share today.
If you are a service provider who works with other business owners, you’re going to love the questions I’ve compiled for this list.
6 questions to include in your client questionnaire
The purpose of a client questionnaire is to set the tone for your project. Your client’s answers will give you a clearer picture of how they envision their own brand and how they’ve built its foundation over time.
Instead of trying to gather all of the information you need from your client on a long, drawn-out phone call or assuming you know the ins and outs of their business, send a questionnaire they can easily fill out and complete in their own time.
Let’s take the guesswork out of understanding your client’s brand foundation by revealing questions I use in my actual client questionnaire. If you’ve ever wanted to take a behind-the-scenes peek into my business, now’s your chance!
While I recommend adding more questions that are specific to your industry and project, these six questions will give you a head-start.
- What is your business purpose?
- What makes your business unique?
- What are your core values?
- Who is your ideal client?
- What problem do you solve for your clients?
- What services or products do you offer?
Let’s dive into each question and why it’s so important to include it in your own questionnaire.
What is your business purpose?
This question is what I would consider a non-negotiable. It’s important for your client to share their business purpose and mission with you.
By understanding the purpose of their business, you’ll get closer to the heart behind their brand. What do they hope to accomplish? Why does their business exist?
All of these questions will help you unlock the reason why they do the work they do. Their business purpose will inspire your work, no matter if you’re a coach, freelance writer, designer, or any other service provider.
What makes your business unique?
We’ve all heard that there’s room for us at the table because no one can do it as we can. While I absolutely believe that’s true, it’s important for your clients to stretch beyond these encouraging words to discover exactly what makes their business unique.
What makes them stand out from the crowd? In order to properly answer these questions, your client will need to identify their first competitors. Very few of us are the first to do something in our field, and that’s a good thing!
Having competitors simply tells us that there’s a growing market in your industry. Your client may need help in identifying their competitors, but instead of focusing on what other brands do well, prompt them to consider where they fall short. That will help your client understand how they can fill the gap in the market with their offerings.
Their business may also be set apart by other factors like their work philosophy, fast shipping times, luxury pricing, brand packaging, and so much more. Make sure their answer is fully fleshed out before you move on to the next section.
What are your core values?
Core values are the guiding principles of your client’s business. It’s best for your clients to define at least two to three core values before you start working together. This will tell you not only what’s important to them but also to their clients.
Their core values are often deeply personal, so this will give you a sense of the people behind the brand. They may even decide to add their core values into their website or other marketing materials after defining them in their questionnaire.
Some common core values I see as a website designer are family, collaboration, community, integrity, compassion, diversity and inclusion, creativity, and innovation. However, each client will choose a unique set of core values to represent their business.
Who is your ideal client?
It would be impossible to create your best work without knowing who your client is trying to serve. There are two main ways to describe an ideal client: by their demographics and psychographics.
An ideal client’s demographics include foundational details like their age range, gender, education level, location, income level, and more. While these details give you a great start in understanding who your client wants to attract, it’s even better to know their psychographics.
Psychographics do a better job of painting a more realistic picture of who an ideal client is. This can include things like what their motivations are, what their ideal day looks like, what their habits are, and more. The more you can get to the heart of who their ideal client is, the better.
Because of this, you may have to ask follow-up questions for clients who don’t fill out the questionnaire with great detail. Make sure you have all of the information you need before starting the project! It’s much easier to gather ideal client details before you get started than when you’re in the middle of your creative process.
What problem do you solve for your clients?
The most successful businesses are those that solve a very specific problem for a well-defined group of people. We’ve already talked about identifying the group above through the ideal client question, so now we can focus on discovering the key problems your client is hoping to solve.
For example, if you’re about to work with a social media manager, their ideal client may struggle with problems like:
- Not having enough time to create content
- Not understanding how to boost their engagement
- Not knowing how to repurpose content they’ve already created
- Feeling confused by new features like Reels
Once your client identifies the main problems their clients are facing, you’ll be able to bring this knowledge into your work. This is another essential question that must be answered before you begin your process.
What services or products do you offer?
Now that you know the problems your client is helping with, you’ll want to know how they intend to solve it. This is primarily done through their core offerings which can be in the form of services, digital products, or physical products.
If your client is a service provider, they’ll need to create a list of deliverables inside their signature offer or a specific package. They should also indicate what the benefits of each service are and why they are valuable to their ideal client.
For eCommerce sellers, you may need to see their product description copy along with any other information regarding their products. The better you understand what they’re selling, the better your final work will be.
If your client is still in the development stage with outlining and solidifying their offers, this may affect your project’s timeline. That’s why it’s best to have this conversation up front so you’ll both feel prepared when you begin the project.
Best practices when sending a client questionnaire
Now that you have several questions to include in your own client questionnaire, let’s end with some words of advice. Since I’ve worked with hundreds of website design clients over the years, I’ve picked up these best practices along the way.
Make sure you cross each of these tasks off your list before you send your client questionnaire!
Consider the length of your client questionnaire
Much like Goldilocks, it’s best to find a number of questions that are “just right.”
It shouldn’t be so short that it doesn’t give you the information you need, but it also shouldn’t be so long that completing your questionnaire feels like a pain. You’ll find your sweet spot.
Give clients a deadline
Without a clear deadline, clients may drag their feet or forget about filling out the client questionnaire. Since the quality of your work depends on their answers to this questionnaire, we want to make sure that doesn’t happen.
The best way to move forward is to set a due date. If you want to keep it somewhat flexible, you can also use a phrase like “the questionnaire must be completed two weeks before our project start date.” It’s up to you!
Set an email reminder
Depending on how long your lead time is between booking the project and getting started, you may need to set an automatic email reminder.
That way, completing your client questionnaire stays top of mind.
Add language in your contract
If it’s required for your clients to send their completed questionnaire before you start working together, you’ll want to include this legally-binding language in your contract agreement.
You’ll also want to include a clause about what happens if they don’t get it to you on time.
You can either buy an affordable legal contract template from an online shop like The Legal Paige or work with a lawyer in your local area.
Save a copy of their client questionnaire
Most business owners send client questionnaires through a CRM like Dubsado so all of their client documents and communication stay in one place.
While you’ll have a record of their completed questionnaire in your CRM, it never hurts to save an extra copy on your computer.
Now, all that’s left to do is create your client questionnaire!