Breakdown of Costs in a Customer Survey | Market Research Firm

Customer surveys are a common form of market research and arguably the most valuable as well. Voice of Customer (VoC) market research is essential to businesses and organizations because it helps you better understand customer profiles, better understand motivators to choice, and helps you grow.

Customer surveys come in many forms: paper surveys, mail surveys, intercept surveys, online surveys, email surveys, and phone surveys. For the purpose of this article today, I will talk about the most common form of customer survey nowadays: email and online surveys. These are the most common form because they offer an organization multiple benefits. They are cost-effective, timely, and offer high-quality data and feedback.

Wondering about the cost of a customer survey? Wonder no more. Our market research firm breaks down the costs and fees involved with basic customer survey work.

Line Item 1: Setup and Design

This is the first step and line item when it comes to a customer survey. It involves several items including the kickoff meeting, workplan, survey draft, programming, and testing. Each of these steps involve a specific amount of hours and an hourly rate charged by the market research firm.

The kickoff is a 30 to 60 minute meeting to highlight objectives of the customer survey and talk about actual survey questions. The workplan is the document sent out post-kickoff which highlights tasks, deliverable dates, and responsible parties. The survey draft is a document that comes to the client in Word to allow for edits, changes, and additions. Once the survey is final, it is then programmed into an online survey software. From there the link and survey is tested to ensure it is error free and ready to go for fieldwork.

The other variable is the number of questions in your survey. A 5 question survey will be much less expensive to design and program than a 50 question survey.

Line Item 2: Fieldwork

When it comes to fieldwork costs it boils down to 2 core items: (1) number of contacts you have in your database and (2) number of responses you want to obtain. These two factors likely drive the largest variance in customer survey costs. Obtaining 100,000 responses is more costly than obtaining 100.

Response rates do vary by client and by industry so you'll want to check with a market research firm to understand an expected range. Ultimately you want your data to be statistically reliable so if you know the approximate number of customers you have, here is a handy calculator to estimate your margin of error. Best practice in the industry if a +/- 5% margin of error. Sometimes achieving this can be difficult if your customer population is smaller.

Line Item 3: Frequency

Our Research Analyst wrote an excellent post about the frequency of customer surveys here. I suggest reading it quickly before continuing here. When it comes to frequency of surveys, you have several options.

The first is sending out a survey immediately after a transaction or exchange takes place. This could be an email survey after a sale or an email survey after a call to customer support. This type of customer survey is continual and most frequent.

Another option is sending out a survey bi-weekly or monthly. This may be a mail survey or phone survey placed to customers who recently opened an account. Or perhaps a survey about closing a recent account. These surveys are designed to be longitudinal but less frequent. However, monthly customer surveys are a common frequency in the industry.

Lastly, a general high-level customer survey may be sent once a year or every 18 months. These surveys typically aim to measure the entire customer experience (CX). This includes key tracking metrics like Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Effort Score (CES), and others. Because this survey addresses a much broader relationship, sending this once every 12 to 18 months is more appropriate.

Line Item 4: Level of Reporting

With customer survey reporting you have several options. There is typically at least 2 different types of reporting packages to purchase. One level is a basic reporting package. This often includes a raw data file or responses and charts and graphs. Little is done with analysis and the client buying into this package does much of the interpretation on their own.

The second level of reporting is a more advanced and comprehensive report. This often includes an executive summary of themes, recommendations and action items, an infographic, customer persona, and a question-by-question breakdown of results. With this higher level package you are paying for the insight, expertise, and experience a market research firm brings to the table.

What are the core pieces of a market research report? Find out here.

Line Item 5: Rewards

The last consideration which will impact cost for your customer survey is incentives. These are not mandatory for your customer survey but help with response rate. This could even be something as simple as company swag or trinkets. Another option is a gift card reward, discount off services, or free products. If you go the gift card route, a giveaway as little as $100 or 5 gift cards at $50 each totaling $250 can be enough.

Here are some of the reasons you should offer a reward in market research.

Contact Our Market Research Firm

Drive Research is a customer survey company who manages projects for a variety of clients and industries across the United States. We create customer survey packages to make choices easy for you and your organization.

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Voice of Customer