The Startup Chat with Steli and Hiten on Smash Notes

The Startup Chat with Steli and Hiten podcast.

December 31, 2019

Unfiltered insights and actionable advice straight from the trenches of startup and business life. The show hosts, Steli Efti and Hiten Shah, are both serial entrepreneurs who have founded multi-million dollar SaaS startups. Being busy CEOs of fast-growing companies, they know the value of your time and make sure you get the most out of each 22 minute episode. Tune in for new episodes every Tuesday and Friday.



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In this episode, Steli and Hiten talk about how to do customer surveys. Hiten put out a customer survey that was answered by one of their podcast listeners—long story short—this podcast listener was BLOWN AWAY by how Hiten designed his survey. Listen in as Hiten shares about the 6-question survey, why it was effective in getting people to answer, and how it led to 700 responses and 52 follow up interviews to inform his next product.

Time Stamped Show Notes:


00:17 – Today’s episode is about how to do customer surveys

00:46 – Steli was at a conference and met someone who was a podcast listener and Hiten’s Product Habits email subscriber


01:04 – While answering one of Hiten’s customer surveys, he was also analyzing how the questions were sequenced and how they were asked

01:27 – After the survey, Hiten sent an email explaining how he designed the questions and the man was blown away


02:22 – Hiten had an email list called Product Habits and he rebranded it this year

03:02 – Hiten would put out a survey every time he built a new product or business to find out and understand the problems people have


03:51 – Hiten calls this Early Access Lift Off and this guarantees success because you are learning even before you build a product


04:43 – The document sharing and creation space is Hiten’s new business idea and they decided to include everyone on the email list

05:35 – Hiten says it’s not marketing if people love it and if you’re genuine in your intentions with it

05:54 – It was so valuable for people that Hiten shared their process and everything else

06:32 – The survey had 6 questions and it started with a call to action

07:04 – The most powerful thing you can say to somebody else is to ask them to “share your opinion” as opposed to “give us feedback”


08:27 – People are much more likely to share their opinion when you ask them for it


09:11 – The title of the question and the call to action is the same: share your opinion

10:00 – Change the “your” to “my” and people will own it

10:40 – Hiten found out that in email lists, people sign up with their personal accounts, not their company accounts

12:14 – They asked about the tools being used for sharing documents and included big and small to medium companies

13:37 – Question #5 is the key question and is the only one that is open-ended


13:58 – “What is your single biggest challenge when it comes to creating and sharing documents?”

14:14 – In the description, they asked the responder to be as detailed as possible so they can use it to create software that can be super valuable to them


15:11 – Since they will share everything, Hiten thought they should make a really good survey

15:52 – The second most important question is – “How can you participate in helping us build this software?” and it was not a required question


16:13 – They included a call to action wherein they said that if you’d like to be interviewed, you will get 5 minutes of advice about whatever you want in the end

16:28 – It was a multiple choice question


17:02 – The survey had 700 responses

18:09 – The answers were thoughtful even though it was only 6 questions and it took people an average of 8 minutes to answer

19:25 – Steli says instead of just asking questions, Hiten explained why they care about the answers

20:03 – In a 17-day period, Hiten said they were able to interview 52 people

21:38 – Steli says Hiten is doing the work talking to the customers

22:05 – Steli realized he has not done a survey that has lead to a call

23:46 – End of today’s episode


3 Key Points:


When writing the script for surveys—ask for their OPINION, not for their feedback.

End your survey with a call to action that not only benefits you,

Key points in this episode

In this episode

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