Response rates. They can be very tricky because when you launch a survey you are jumping into the great unknown. How many will reply? You think you have an estimate but how sure are you? What if you receive only 50 responses? Are you equipped to handle 5,000 responses for analysis and reporting? That is a lot of unanswered questions.
With the majority of clients our customer survey company works with, most of the concern revolves around too little feedback. We've even worked on some projects where the client has started their own email or online survey and then come to our team because response rates were very poor. We offered advice and in some cases contracted with them to make tangible improvements for them.
Here are some of the most common tips we offer our customer survey clients.
You don't need an expensive calculator or calculus book to help you improve your customer survey response rates. Just follow these 6 tips.
Tip 1: Try Using Another Method of Contact
Oftentimes this is the easiest and most simple way to boost response rates. Many organizations think one or two emails is enough to garner a solid response rate. If the response rate falters, they simply send more emails which each offer a declining return.
We often work with clients on their customer surveys to add in a round or 2 of phone calls. These phone calls offer interviewers who complete the survey with the customer over the phone via CATI or simply leave a reminder or voicemail for the participant to complete the survey. These calls can be targeted to non-responders only.
This effort is often worth the cost because it results in tangible increases and a jump in responses for your customer survey.
Tip 2: Offer a Reward or Incentive
Although this is not required, it is often encouraged. You don't have to go overboard here either. A simple gift card raffle, company swag, or a discount on the next order will suffice.
There will be a certain number of participants who sit on the fence and think to themselves before they take the survey: "What is in it for me?" Offering a little reward can help.
It does not impact the validity of the responses. If the survey is well-written, any selection bias will be eliminated with the right questions.
Tip 3: Send a Pre-Awareness Email to Explain the Effort
Set the table with a pre-awareness email to your customer contact list. This pre-awareness email should include messaging on who the customer survey company is that is helping your organization, why a response is important, and what you plan on doing with the results.
Lastly it should touch on when to expect the invite, how long the survey will take, and what is in it for them. This way, when you send the actual survey invite, you can get right to the point and encourage a click immediately.
Tip 4: Have Fun with the Invitation or Reminder Language
We hate stuffy surveys, and this is coming from a market research company who loves surveys. If we find some surveys boring and stuffy can you imagine how your customers view them? Sometimes it helps to include a little lighter or fun language in the invites or reminders.
A rule of thumb here is follow your brand. Stepping outside of what you normally do might seem out of place. Try a more basic first invitation. If responses are low, try a slightly different reminder. Still a low response? Try taking it a step further in the second reminder and so on.
Tip 5: Make Your Survey More Engaging
The easiest fix to make your survey more engaging is to simply make it shorter. Gone are the days where customers are willing to spend 20 to 30 minutes offering feedback. They are willing to offer feedback on companies, brands, or products but it needs to be short and easy.
Another easy tip to make your survey more engaging is to change up the question style and scales. Do not simply repeat 1 to 10 scales in your survey. It will cause disengagement and drop-out. Change scales from 1 to 3, 1 to 5, and 1 to 10. Use images. Use slider scales. Even use star ratings. Do something to make the survey a little more interesting.
Tip 6: Send Out a Thank You
Although the thank you will not help you with this customer effort, this is a long-term play. Sending out a thank you a few weeks or even months after the survey is complete lets the customers (both those who responded and those who did not) your organization received and listened to their responses.
Try to include 2 or 3 changes or action items based on the survey feedback. This encourages customers to respond to the next survey.
Contact Drive Research
Drive Research is a customer survey company in Upstate New York. We work with organizations across the country to set up and manage customer survey projects. This includes survey design, programming, invitations, reminders, analysis, and reporting.