‘Tis the season for being in the giving mood and feeling thankful for all this year has brought us. With that being said, it is also the season of feeling the stresses of holiday shopping, cooking, and traveling. The one question still remains. Is it the best time of the year to survey customers?
As a survey market research company, Drive Research executes various types of surveys (online surveys, intercept surveys, customer surveys, etc.) at all times of the year. We understand the desire to conduct research doesn’t stop just because Santa is coming to town. However, the feedback and data gifted by market research heavily relies on how many people respond or participate in a study, and the quality of their answers.
By sending a customer survey during the holidays, is the quality and response rate impacted? To help answer this question we asked our team of research analysts, “Would you recommend clients send a survey during the holiday or wait until January?” Below you will read their sides of the argument for, “Yes”, “No”, and “It Depends.”
'Tis the season to be jolly. And stressed. Which has us wondering, is it the best time of the year to send a customer survey? Our market research company sets out to find the answer.
You SHOULD NOT Survey Customers During the Holidays
Opinion Provided By Tim Gell
During the holiday season, conducting a survey among your customers isn’t the best idea. You never know when a respondent may turn out to be a Grinch and sabotage your data.
On a serious note, though, many researchers believe that respondents mentally check out as major holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Eve approaches. For some of our customers, the plans to shop, travel, or prepare for family gatherings make the idea of taking a survey an afterthought.
Good luck even reaching your customers in the first place. For example, most B2B customers likely won’t check their work email once the break begins. If they do, seeing a survey will not be a priority.
Those who end up completing the survey present a risk of low-quality data.
Customers may rush through without giving the survey their full attention in order to get back to their time off. At the very least, their survey data may need some extra vetting to ensure open-ended responses are valid and questions are answered sensibly.
Here and there, you may also get the customer who is negatively affected by the invitation to take the survey during a holiday. These customers may interpret the timing of the survey as a sign that the company doesn’t value the holiday or a customer’s time with family and friends. They are certainly not the majority of respondents, but it is worth considering for a company looking to survey its customers.
The struggle to find respondents and obtain high-quality data results in additional cost and time needed to complete the project. Some customers ultimately want to be left alone during the holidays, as well. These potential headaches make it worthwhile to simply avoid the holidays for survey fieldwork if you can.
You SHOULD Survey Customers During the Holidays
Opinion Provided by Emily Carroll
It’s hard not to be in a good mood during the holidays. This is typically the only time of year everyone can enjoy some much needed time off. With clients and coworkers being on a similar vacation schedule, it is easier to feel relaxed because there are no pressing assignments or projects that need tending to.
With many of our customers on break, this means they have more free time during the day and evening to complete a simple survey. People are able to offer their feedback in length and not rush to the end by only answering with one-word responses. This allows for higher quality and reliable data once survey fieldwork is complete.
Another reason it can be a good idea to send a customer survey during the holidays is that people tend to be in a more giving mood. If a customer had a great experience working with you this year, they are more likely to take the time to fill out the survey and offer their feedback. They are appreciative of the product or service your organization provided and therefore are open to sharing their gratitude in the form of a customer survey.
Survey respondents will be even more willing to complete the survey if the incentive is appealing enough. With the holidays comes a lot of shopping. With a lot of shopping comes a lot of spending. Many people would cherish the opportunity to make a quick buck or be entered in a raffle for a sizeable gift card that could go towards a holiday gift.
Opinion Provided by Emily Taylor
Answering this question is tricky. As a born optimist, I'm drawn to support reasons why surveying customers during the holiday season could be ideal, however, I can also quickly come up with reasons that make the situation tricky. The true answer depends on several different factors such as the type of customer, survey length, survey incentive, and the method used to invite customers to complete the survey.
When considering who your customers are, think about how the holiday season can make it easier or harder to reach customers. For example, B2C customers will likely keep similar habits when it comes to how often they access social media, email, as well as their phone. B2C customers, however, will likely be more difficult to reach through work associated email and phones due to vacation schedules.
How long is the customer survey?
Survey length should always be considered before inviting customers to complete a survey. It can be easy to think customers will have more free time during the holiday season, but that does not mean they want to complete a 10-minute online survey. Remember to keep surveys short, 5 minutes or less is typically ideal.
What is the incentive for the customer survey?
Next, think about the incentive. Incentives are based on survey length and motivating customers to respond. For example, a chance to win a $50 gift card may be effective for a short survey to general consumers during the holiday season. However, as the survey length increases the incentive should be reworked (i.e., smaller guaranteed rewards, increased chances to win the reward(s), etc.).
How are the customer surveys being sent out?
Lastly, consider how and when survey invites are sent. Remember to avoid reaching out to business customers through their work email and phone as they will likely have an, “Out of Office” message during the holiday season. Also, be conscious of customers’ friends/family time and avoid sending invites on the holiday.
Essentially, what I’m trying to say is a large national retail store that conducts a quick customer survey that follows best practices may even see a higher response rate over the holiday than expected (if done correctly). However, a B2B company conducts the same customer survey via business email/phone will likely see a much lower response rate over the holiday season than expected.
My suggestion to the B2B company would be to wait until mid to late January to conduct the customer survey to ensure its customers are re-acclimated to their post-holiday season work routine.
Drive Research is a national market research company located in New York. Our team has the knowledge and tools to design a robust customer survey for organizations in any industry, serving any audience.
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