Cost of a Customer Satisfaction Survey

Customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys are one of the most cost-effective market research projects.

When it comes to the cost of customer satisfaction surveys, it is driven by a number of factors that will be recapped in this post.

The factors that impact the cost of customer surveys include:

  • Choice of methodology
  • The number of survey responses
  • Length of survey
  • Types and number of survey invitation reminders
  • Level of reporting

Below, I'll share how to gather an accurate quote from a customer satisfaction firm by understanding the impact of these 5 factors

Interested in learning more about how a customer satisfaction survey works? Here is the process.

What is the cost of a customer survey?


Why Work With a Customer Survey Company?

This article takes the approach of using third-party market research to assist with your customer satisfaction survey.

This is highly recommended, especially when collecting customer data.

Adding a third-party consultant to manage the process ensures the process runs correctly, data is unbiased, and participant confidentiality can be assured.

Many times customers fear sharing feedback because they think the sponsoring organization will use it against them or treat them differently as a customer.

Therefore if you do not use a third-party market research firm response rates are lower and responses could very well be biased as well.

Here are some benefits to using a third-party customer satisfaction survey company.


Factor 1: Choice of Methodology

Perhaps no other factor will have a larger impact on the cost of your customer satisfaction survey.

The options to collect customer feedback will center around 3 methodologies.

Each methodology has a vastly different cost and timeline. This includes:

  1. Email or online surveys
  2. Phone surveys
  3. Mail surveys

The two more costly options are telephone surveys and mail surveys. Here's why.

Online Surveys (Most Cost-Effective)

The most cost-effective market research study is online surveys through email invitations.

Obviously, you need to have customer emails to pursue this strategy.

Email surveys are not only cost-effective, but they are also quicker than mail surveys and telephone surveys.

Phone Surveys (Less Cost-Effective)

When you think of phone surveys, the majority of the cost is built into the hourly rates and fees it takes for call center employees to dial customers.

Ratios can range anywhere from less than 1 completed survey per hour to up to 4 or 5 completed surveys per hour. This time equals additional costs.

Mail Surveys (Least Cost-Effective)

With mail surveys, there are several fixed costs that drive up the fee for the cost of the customer satisfaction survey.

These fees including printing, assembly, postage, return postage, and data entry. These fixed costs add up quickly and raise the total price of a mail survey.


Factor 2: Number of Completed Surveys

Outside of the choice of methodology, another major factor that impacts the cost of a customer satisfaction survey is the number of completed surveys.

For instance, 400 completed surveys will cost your organization less than 4,000.

With that being said, the number of completed surveys depends on the size of your customer audience.

If you have an extremely large customer base and you do not want to survey everyone, you can pull a sample of customer emails for your market research to control costs.

Response rates vary significantly from client to client. However, over the years customer satisfaction email surveys teach us your response rate will range from 1% up to 15%.

Why More Responses = Higher Costs

With additional data comes the need for additional analysis and reporting. As the number of completed surveys increase, so does the cost.

Depending on your customer base we like to recommend a minimum of 100 completed surveys.

However, sample sizes of 200 or 400 increase statistical reliability. If budget allows, we recommend acquiring additional customer satisfaction surveys completes.

This allows flexibility to cross-tab data by geographies, age, gender, etc.


Factor 3: Length of Survey

Another factor that impacts the cost of a customer satisfaction survey is the length of the questionnaire.

A survey with 5 questions will be less expensive than a survey with 30 questions.

This is impacted by not only the additional time to analyze and report on the additional questions but for phone and mail surveys, a longer instrument implies more time to administer.

Longer phone surveys mean service reps are on the phone a larger amount of time. Longer mail surveys likely mean additional pages and printing, along with data entry.

Is the cost of a customer satisfaction survey a concern? Consider shortening the length of the questionnaire to only your core objectives.

What are must-have questions for a customer survey? Here is what our team of market research professionals had to say.


Factor 4: Types and Number of Reminders

One of the major benefits of utilizing a mail survey or email survey methodology is the ability to place phone call reminders to non-responders.

Both mail surveys and email surveys can be embedded with an authentication code so respondents can be tracked.

Those who do not respond can be identified for follow-up phone calls to help boost response rates.

The survey can be conducted by phone during this reminder call or a voicemail can be left.

These phone call reminders can often be made optional where the organization may or may not have to utilize them to improve response rates.

One of the major benefits of email customer satisfaction surveys is the ability to send a reminder and 2nd reminder with the click of a button.

Other details of invitation reminders include...

  • These emails reminders are easy to incorporate and do not significantly impact the cost of a customer satisfaction survey.
  • The market research firm typically builds in at least 1 reminder and possibly 2 if response rates fall below expectations.

Interested in learning more survey invitation email best practices? Watch the video below for 4 tips.


Factor 5: Level of Reporting

A customer satisfaction survey firm, like Drive Research, could provide you with several levels of reporting, all of which will change the cost of a customer satisfaction survey.

The least expensive reporting option in a survey project is no reporting. Here you would receive an Excel file or CSV file on respondent answers to analyze on your own in-house.

High-level reports include banner runs of question-by-question results and a possible infographic. This is one of the lower levels of reporting you can receive.

Other levels of reporting exist where the market research firm provides insights, themes, an executive summary, recommendations, and customer personas.

This in-depth level of reporting costs more than a traditionally high-level report.

topline vs comprehensive reporting packages by drive research

Editor's Note: This blog post was originally posted in August of 2017 but has since been updated for readability.


Need a Quote for a Customer Survey? Contact Us.

Those are the 5 factors to consider when trying to understand the cost of a customer satisfaction survey. Adjustments made to each will increase or decrease the cost of your project.

Would you like an exact cost of a customer satisfaction survey for your project needs?

Let us know about your objectives, types of questions you'd like answers for, the number of customers you have, and any other specific details.

To contact Drive Research, use one of the preferred channels below.

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at info@driveresearch.com
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

Author Bio George Kuhn

George Kuhn

George is the Owner & President of Drive Research. He has consulted for hundreds of regional, national, and global organizations over the past 15 years. He is a CX certified VoC professional with a focus on innovation and new product management.

Learn more about George, here.


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