5 Steps to Improve Your Survey Response Rate
Simon Foster | May 17, 2017
The consumer research industry doesn’t like to say it out loud, but we know it’s true: consumers don’t like filling out online surveys. It’s our primary tool for getting customer feedback, but response rates have been on a steady decline for 20 years.
Hand a customer a receipt with the request to complete an online survey and you’re likely to get a ‘yeah, sure’, which translates into ‘yeah, never.’ Having a customer ignore your request is one thing, but asking them to do something they dislike is harmful to your relationship. According to OpinionLab CMO John Levitt, “our research shows that surveys can actually damage your brand.” To understand why, we need to put ourselves in the customer’s shoes. The ask is to bring the receipt home, type in the survey web address, type in a long survey code, then participate in a survey that usually doesn’t respect the customer’s valuable time. This process serves the needs of the business, not the needs of the customer.
This puts retailers in a tough spot. Businesses need to hear from their customers in order to make smart business decisions, but are unable to receive relevant feedback in a convenient way. So, what’s the solution?
Here are five best practises to achieve higher survey response rates:
1. Communicate with your customers the way they want
How do your customers like to communicate? Technology platforms have led to big changes, most notably with mobile. In your store customers are text messaging, posting on Facebook or Instagram, and reading Twitter. Why not communicate with them the way they prefer, and make it as easy for them to give feedback as it is to tweet? 85% of consumers said they would provide feedback to a business if they made it easier to deliver. Surveys over SMS, Facebook Messenger, or other mobile messaging platforms generate significantly higher response rates.
2. Identify clear objectives and stick to them.
It’s tempting to ask your colleagues for feedback on a survey, and to have every department chip in a couple of questions that are ‘critical’. What you end up with is a 10+ minute survey that drags your customer through every department of the business. This is why 80% of consumers have abandoned a survey halfway through. Instead, keep a clear focus on the one or two areas you want feedback on, and resist the temptation to keep piling on detour questions.
3. Use open ended questions.
One of the challenges of any survey is the questions you ask can dictate the feedback you get. Open ended questions have the advantage of receiving more personalized feedback, providing insights that can drive entire business strategies. But open ended feedback at scale is unstructured, requiring manual review of what can be tens of thousands of responses. The good news is that advances in Artificial Intelligence, and more specifically Natural Language Understanding can apply structure to the responses to help categorize the data and organize insights.