Surveying Non-Customers [Process & Questions]

Improving Your Customer Prospects

By now most organizations understand the impact of conducting customer surveys. However, it is equally important and beneficial to survey non-customers.

While important, our online survey company understands collecting feedback from members of the general community or those who make up your target demographic can be much more challenging. 

Read this blog post to gain insider tips for conducting non-customer surveys. Plus, we'll also discuss the benefits of this type of market research and why working with a third party is your best resource.

What is a Non-Customer Survey?

A non-customer survey is a type of survey designed to gather feedback, opinions, or information from individuals who are not current customers of a particular product, service, or business. Unlike customer satisfaction surveys, which focus on the experiences and opinions of existing customers, non-customer surveys target individuals who have not yet engaged with a specific product or service.

Why Surveying Non-Customers is Challenging

As you may have already figured out, surveying non-customers is often more challenging than gathering feedback from current or past customers.

With customer satisfaction surveys organizations can easily tap into their database of clients.

Typically organizations will have some type of CRM that holds their customers’ contact information such as:

  • Name
  • Email
  • Phone number
  • Organization name
  • Organization address

This is a great resource to have as it makes the process of reaching out to our customers for feedback very easy.

Whether a customer satisfaction company conducts this survey online, by phone, or by mail, a CRM should have all the information they need to contact respondents. 

In contrast, non-customer surveys don't share this same access to respondents. Finding this level of contact information to send an email survey invitation is not as simple.

This is generally why businesses looking to conduct surveys for non-customers turn to a market research company like Drive Research – but more on that later!

Benefits of Surveying Non-Customers

1. Understand the Buying Behaviors of Non-Customers

A big opportunity for growth for any organization is tapping into people who have never done business with their company before.

With non-customer surveys, an organization can answer why this is. 

Popular topics covered in a survey targeted to non-customers include: 

  • Top-of-mind awareness of your brand
  • Aided awareness of your brand
  • Perception of your brand (positive, neutral, negative)
  • Word associations with your brand
  • Factors in choice or what is most important when choosing
  • What influences the decision
  • What source(s) are used for the decision
  • What media channels do they spend their time in (social, radio, TV)
  • Brands used and level of satisfaction with those brands
  • Likelihood of switching brands
  • Preferences for communication
  • Preferences for purchasing
  • Usage of websites

A non-customer survey can also ask demographic questions regarding age, gender, income, etc.

This information can help create likely customer personas to assist in your marketing strategies.

2. Data-Driven New Business Marketing Campaigns

The answers to non-customer survey questions can unveil marketing and business strategies to implement in the coming month, quarter, or year.

These data-driven marketing strategies are more likely to increase the number of new customers than campaigns based on assumptions.

For example, say through the non-customer survey, a market research firm discovers your brand has a low awareness among your target demographic.

The survey also showed the top media channel of preference was social media – specifically Facebook.

It would be a recommendation from the market research firm that your organization invests budget dollars towards a paid social media awareness campaign on Facebook. 

3. Identify Why People Choose Competitors 

Another key element to surveying non-customers is understanding why buyers have selected a competitor and what factors would cause this customer to switch to a different brand. 

From here your organization may decide to create a marketing campaign speaking to how your organization can solve the issues currently being had with customers of a competitor, which are likely the factors that would cause them to switch. 

Process for Surveying Non-Customers

The process for surveying non-customers follows a very structured and organized timeline from beginning to end.

How long will it take to complete a non-customer survey? 

On average a non-customer survey from kickoff to debrief will take a couple of weeks, but the timeline of a non-customer survey project can be executed as long as your team needs.  

For more context, here are the typical steps our market research company takes when surveying non-customers.

non-customer survey process by drive research

Step 1: Proposal

This process begins with a market research proposal in which Drive Research will outline the scope, objectives, timeline, deliverables, and costs for you.

Step 2: Kick-Off Meeting

Once the proposal is signed off, we are able to move forward with a kickoff meeting to highlight the steps of a non-customer survey in greater detail. 

Step 3: Project Workplan

Our market research firm then creates a workplan that acts as a guide for both our team and the client. This includes project dates, deliverables, and who is responsible for each task. 

Step 4: Design the Non-Customer Survey

Next, Drive Research creates a draft of the non-customer survey to be approved by the client before it is launched to the target market.

This is sent through a test link so you can view the survey as if you were a respondent.

Step 5: Survey Fieldwork

Once approved, the survey for non-customers will launch with a small sample of respondents to assure everything is performing as it should be.

If everything checks out, the non-customer survey is launched to the full market area.

Step 6: Create a Non-Customer Survey Report

After fieldwork is completed, Drive Research runs data quality checks and starts preparing for the market research report.

This report can be as simple or as detailed as you wish.

The report for your non-customer survey may include:

  • A comprehensive summary

  • Recommendations for next steps

  • Infographics

  • Cross tabulations

  • Question by question appendix 

Step 7: Debrief Meeting

Finally, Drive Research will meet with your team to walk through the findings and insights learned from the non-customer survey project.

Sample Survey Questions for Non-Buying Customers

Non-customer surveys typically include questions that explore the reasons why individuals haven't chosen to engage with a particular product or service, what factors influence their decision-making, and what might attract them in the future.

Example non-buying customer survey questions include:

  1. Are you aware of Brand XYZ?
  2. How would you describe your current perception of Brand XYZ?
  3. What factors influence your decision to purchase a product/service by [Competitor ABC]?
  4. How do you perceive Brand XYZ product/service in comparison to those of [Competitor ABC]?
  5. Were there specific features or attributes that you were looking for but did not find in Brand XYZ?
  6. Where do you primarily gather information about XYZ product/service?
  7. Were there specific channels or sources that influenced your decision-making process?
  8. What improvements or changes would make you more likely to consider Brand XYZ in the future?

Why Hiring a Third-Party for Non-Customer Surveys is Important 

There are two main benefits of working with a third-party market research firm when deciding to survey non-customers.

This of course is aside from not having to manage the survey and analyze the data, all while managing other projects and day-to-day tasks.

1. Running a Blinded Study

A benefit of partnering with a market research firm that specializes in non-customer surveys is it blinds your organization from being the sponsor of the research. 

People are less likely to share their honest feedback if they feel they are harming the person or organization they are critiquing.

This is not just in research but in life in general.

If you were to ask a random stranger if they liked your clown shirt, chances are they would not be voicing the thoughts that are in their head to spare your feelings.

The same can be said of non-customer surveys.

If your branding or logo is all over the questionnaire, people are less inclined to offer genuine feedback.

However, this insight is what an organization needs to achieve accurate results from surveying non-customers. 

The data collected from this type of market research will drive organizations to uncover exactly what it is that makes their target demographic tick.

Even if the feedback is mostly negative, it acts as a guide for where your organization should be spending its business and marketing budget to resolve this negative perception. 

2. Accessibility to Qualified Respondents

Another benefit of hiring a third-party market research firm when speaking with your target market, and possibly the biggest, is their ability to access non-customers to participate in the survey. 

Although each organization is different based on the sample pool available to them, our national market research firm uses a combination of social media paid advertisements and online panels to recruit respondents.

Based on your market area and criteria, our expertise in social media recruiting allows us to find respondents that match your exact target buyer and collect their feedback.

Drive Research has completed non-customer surveys for organizations across the country.

The combinations of these two recruitment methods have allowed us to collect hundreds of survey responses – a response rate that rarely is achieved if conducted in-house.

Again, your non-customer survey would not identify your organization as the sponsor of the research during this outreach to ensure all opinions are unbiased and objective.

3. Unbiased Perspective

A third-party survey provider can bring an unbiased and impartial perspective to the survey process.

Internal teams may have pre-existing opinions or biases that could unintentionally influence the survey design, implementation, or interpretation of results. Therefore, a neutral third party helps ensure that the survey is conducted objectively.

Contact Our Online Survey Agency

Drive Research is a market research company located in Syracuse, NY. Our team has the knowledge and tools to design an effective non-customer survey for organizations all over the country.

Interested in learning more about our market research services? Reach out through any of the four ways below.

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at [email protected]
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

emily carroll about the author

Emily Rodgers

A SUNY Cortland graduate, Emily has taken her passion for social and content marketing to Drive Research as the Marketing Manager. She has earned certificates for both Google Analytics and Google AdWords.

Learn more about Emily, here.

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