Creating surveys

Surveys are a great tool to gauge interest or intention. 

The best surveys I’ve seen are easy to answer, yet they provide answers through inference, not explicit intention.

When launching our online restaurant service at EatFirst, we wanted to understand the failure of current online food ordering services. On one side, there were the vertically integrated pizza delivery services, on the other you have huge marketplaces where you buy from any type of restaurant. None of them is able to deliver perfect food which tastes and looks as nice as when you go to a restaurant. 

So our objective for a survey was to find if our assumption was correct: that people love restaurants, but it’s not always convenient to go out; and that a service that delivers the true restaurant experience anywhere is a great value proposition. Of course, we could just ask those two questions:

But that’s making it too obvious to the surveyed people, who may project their wishes too much and end up agreeing with you, and you get little additional information.

So the team broke down the first assumption in several parts:

With this information you can perfectly validate our first assumption, with details to spare. Eg, you’ll end up knowing the reasons why people don’t find it convenient to always go to their favorite restaurants (money, distance, time, availability?).

The same was done for the second assumption:

Now, in this second part, our replacement questions are not directly validating the question. Why? First, a pure, online restaurant, is not something people can instantly think of. It’s kind of a novelty, and we don’t want interviewed people to get confused. And generally people always say that they’re interested in good things, so asking them would just bring very uniform answers and directional, with no measurement of strength. So our objective was to get the appraisal between existing online offerings and the perfect restaurant options and perhaps hint at how to convert them to this new concept.

Then we built the whole survey, which you can find below. 

Now, executing the survey is another challenge. In this case the whole marketing team participated, me as a founder and head of marketing included. I first wandered in the streets of Berlin at lunch time looking for our target. Almost no one wanted to speak to me, and found only two willing people who seemed to be it (Busy affluent). They weren’t. After more than an hour I changed strategy and headed to the subway. I stayed near the track, under the clock with the ETA to the next train. Then I waited for the platform to fill up, and screened for the best candidates. Not only was I able to nail the selection much better, as only one person refused to talk. The fact that I could tell them “it seems like the next train is in 6 minutes, can I use 3 minutes of your time for a super short survey?” really does it. Conclusion: look for relaxed targets in times of idleness. Subway stations are awesome!

The Actual Survey was the following:

Greet and explain: 


  1. What’s your age?
  2. What’s your profession?
  3. Are you single, a couple, a family?
  4. 3 reasons why you go to a restaurant?
  5. Which are your 3 favorite restaurants!
  6. Which 3 restaurants do you go to the most?
  7. If they 5 and 6 are different, why is that?
  8. How did you find your 3 favourite restaurants? (If needed, provide 3 options: personal recommendation, media/ public recommendation, curiosity when passing by)
  9. Do you order food online, from which service and restaurants?
  10. If it’s the case, tell me 3 reasons why online food is not among your 3 favorite restaurants?

Final: Would you like to know about a true restaurant that will let you order online?