Customer Survey Mistakes that Will Kill Response Rates

Advise your clients to consider survey length, timing, and incentives to improve response rates and make the most of their customer survey solution investment.

customer survey

Customer surveys are one of those things that have the distinction of seeming simple, but actually taking some know-how to do right. It’s one thing to ask customers for feedback. It’s another, however, to do it in a way that gets a healthy response rate and data that leads to actionable insights.

When you sell customer survey solutions, you can add value by providing your clients with the guidance they need to get the most out of their investment and making sure they what not to do if they want to maximize the number of people taking the survey.

Customer Survey Mistakes to Avoid

  • Conducting long surveys — Obviously, people need to respond to the survey for it to provide insights to your client. And a sure way to quench participation is with a long survey. A SurveyMonkey Audience poll on feedback surveys found that 78 percent of people are willing to spend 10 minutes, at most, on a survey — and 45 percent will only spend five minutes. Your client may want a lot of feedback from customers, but the best strategy is to keep surveys short.
  • Ignoring timing — It may be convenient for your client to send out an online survey on Monday morning, hoping to have results by a staff meeting on Wednesday, but that may not line up with their customers’ schedules. SurveyMonkey’s research also found that people are most likely to complete online surveys on Thursdays and Fridays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pacific Time, but each business will find the survey sweet spot for their customers. Encourage your clients to determine peak times and make the most of them.
  • Being ambiguous — A survey has to address a specific goal. Your client shouldn’t just ask random questions and expect to find value in the results. Advise your client to set a goal, plan and then ask relevant questions. Also, remind your clients that surveys aren’t the time to be vague. They need to ask questions that will help them learn exactly what they want to know. Confusing questions will hurt participation and the value of the data they receive.
  • Expecting something for nothing — If your client is struggling to get customer survey participation, you may want to suggest that they offer an incentive for completing the survey, like a discount on a future purchase or entry for a chance to win a larger prize. Customers may be more likely to participate if they get something in return for taking the time to provide their feedback.
  • Keeping it all business — There’s no reason why taking a survey has to be drudgery. Consider ways to help your clients gamify the survey or add images or animation that can make the survey a more pleasant experience, while still reflecting the client’s brand image.
  • Not following up — Some customers may feel like responding to a survey is a waste of time because they never receive a thank you or responses to their comments. Advise your clients to monitor survey participation and respond as soon as possible. This strategy can also increase the overall value the customer survey solution provides, turning it from only a survey tool to a means of building better relationships and customer loyalty.

What is a Good Survey Response Rate?

Unless the survey’s goal is only to address individual customers’ immediate concerns, it’s important to collect data that represents a significant portion of your client’s customer base. It would be illogical to base employee performance reviews, buying decisions, operational changes, or other business decisions on the feedback from just a few customers.

To calculate a survey response rate, divide the number of people that took the survey divided by the number of people asked to take the survey x 100. In-store, for example, you can divide the number of people who took a survey at the checkout by the total number of paying customers — although that doesn’t take dissatisfied customers who left without making a purchase into account.  Online, the total pool could be all visitors to the e-commerce website who saw the survey link.

Averages across all industries, according to data compiled in this infographic shared by SurveyAnyplace puts the response rate for in-person surveys at 57 percent, email surveys at about 30 percent, online surveys at 29 percent and in-app surveys at 13 percent.

Using the average can be useful, but it’s more important for your client to evaluate their results and determine benchmarks that help them know when they’ve received feedback from a relevant number of responses from their customer base. Avoiding common mistakes can help them get the number of responses they need.