Techniques for Improving Survey Response Rates

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Your survey results analysis is only going to work if you have a healthy batch of results to analyze. And one of the ways to obtain that healthy batch of results is with a number of savvy techniques geared toward increasing your survey response rates.Any increase in survey participation can be a great help, especially since many companies’ response rates are rather dismal. It’s not uncommon for most companies to average a response rate of 5 to 10 percent with traditional survey tools, and an even lower 1 to 5 percent with ticketing software that attaches surveys to support tickets. The following tips can help.Survey New ClientsIntegrating a survey into your new client process can net high participation rates while illustrating customer service is a priority. While this technique can’t be used for every business, it can be particularly beneficial for service-based organizations as part of their new client on-boarding process.Engage in Manual Telephone Follow-upsKeep a list of customers that haven’t responded to the survey you sent, and then have administrative staff give them a call, asking for feedback and re-sending the survey when needed. This tactic may take a few hours, but it can increase response rates dramatically – for the current as well as future surveys. Customers are more likely to respond once they know you take their feedback seriously.Send Personal Email Follow-upsIf telephoning isn’t practical, a personal email can achieve the same purpose. Make sure the email is truly personal, and not an automated email that consumers can usually spot a mile away. Dead giveaways include:

  • Unsubscribe links
  • A return address such as “customerservice@yourcompany”
  • Generic messages they can tell simply inserted their name at the top

Take the time to create a personal email sent from your individual business email address and the recipients are more likely to take the time to fill out your survey.Provide an IncentiveIncentives can bring a big boost to your response rates, and it doesn’t have to be anything all that expensive. In fact, an e-Rewards Market Research study found a $2 cash reward for completing a survey was more effective than a $2,500 sweepstakes entry.Keep Survey Length ShortConsumers are busy, and survey length is the biggest obstacle standing in the way of participation rates. One firm, which averages a 60 percent participation rate with no follow-ups, swears by its survey format of using only six questions. It claims any more are a waste of time, for both the participants and the company.A Gallop Organization survey of 1 million small business found that customer satisfaction and client advocacy boils down to four key metrics:

  • Availability, or receiving goods or services when you need them
  • Accuracy, or receiving what you requested
  • Partnership, or collaboration between client and company
  • Advice, or ongoing learning

Your customer loyalty survey, or surveys measuring customer satisfaction, can easily frame six questions around those four metrics to dramatically improve response rates.Keep Response Length ShortNothing scares off potential survey participants more than opening a survey to find colossal text boxes awaiting their lengthy responses. One trend has been basing an entire survey around a single question, a technique known as the “Net Promoter” question. The single question asks “How would you feel about recommending us?”Send out Automated RemindersIn addition to personal phone call and email follow-ups, automated reminders can help increase survey participation rates. Sending out two reminders can double your response rate, according to data collected by Client Heartbeat:

  • Initial survey sent: 30 percent response rate
  • First reminder sent seven days after survey: 50 percent response rate
  • Second reminder sent 14 days after survey: 60 percent response rate

Because reminder emails are automated, your time investment is minimal. Just ensure you are sending reminders only to those who have not filled out the survey and not the entire list. Keep Spam Filters in MindSpam filters can cause your response rates to plummet, thanks to their uncanny ability to block your survey from ever getting to your targeted participants in the first place. A few strategies can help you avoid spam filters:

  • Tailor your wording. Spam filters are typically looking for words like “free prize,” “free offer,” or “free” anything. Leave out spam trigger words when you’re writing up your email subject line and text.
  • Use reputable services. Spam filters can also distinguish spam based on the reputation of the person, or mail server, sending the emails. The more credible your survey service or mail server, the better. Your IT department can help you with this one if needed, or you can also make sure you only partner with well-respected service providers.

Pay Attention to Your Survey’s Return AddressAs mentioned in the personal email tip, people are aware of the origins of their emails. Sending a survey from “customerservice,” “helpdesk” or “info” is not likely to get you a solid batch of survey responses.The email introducing your survey should instead come from a trusted individual within your company, preferably one with whom the customer has already communicated. Also make sure the introduction has a personal touch, appealing directly to the individual to take a moment to complete your survey. Tips here include:

  • Keeping the message brief, a sentence or two at most
  • Explaining the purpose of the survey
  • Outlining how long it should take them to complete it
  • Including a link directly to the survey for their convenience

Use any number or combination of these tips to create your company’s own specific strategy for increasing response rates. When it comes time to analyze survey data, you should have plenty of it review.