Customer Experience News & Trends

4 reasons customers won’t take your surveys — and 5 ways to get a better response

If you send surveys, and don’t get many responses, the problem is more likely your design, not your customers.

Many customers would like to give you feedback, but most don’t because surveys aren’t designed for them. Instead, they’re designed only with the company in mind.

“If it’s too much effort, customers just won’t respond,” said Jeff Olsen, director of training & education at MaritzCX, at the recent CXFusion Conference in Las Vegas.

Too much info, not enough clarity

Here are the four biggest reasons customers don’t do your surveys:

  • Too much effort. They’re burdened with finding the survey, remembering the experience and writing responses.
  • Unclear context. The questions don’t match the experience they just had.
  • Unclear purposes. Customers don’t understand why you need certain answers.
  • Too personal. Customers feel the information you want is too sensitive.

The moment they run into one of those issues, they’ll stop doing the survey.

You can increase the likelihood customers will respond with valuable feedback if you take these five tips from Olsen in designing and disseminating surveys:

1. Know who you want to understand

You may not need feedback from every customer you serve. If you pick a certain segment — for instance by their usage level, product preferences or years of loyalty — you can ask questions that fit them. That way, they’ll be more likely to respond.

It’s fine to survey everyone, too. You’ll just need to ask broader, more generic questions.

2. Interact with them like they do you

Survey customers in the same way they contact and interact with you most. Is it point-of-sale? Long-running relationships with sales professionals? Service calls on a renewable product? Over the phone periodically? Email daily?

Their most normal way of interacting with you is the best way to survey them. It’s comfortable and is an existing natural part of the relationship.

3. Make it smooth

Once you contact them in the channel that best fits the relationship, you can maximize response rates by:

  • Keeping the survey short and crisp. Brief questions. Rated responses with space for written sentences.
  • Telling customers what you’ll do with their feedback. They’re more likely to respond if they know there are plans to act on what they say.
  • Balancing the cost of execution. Make sure you can afford to make the potential changes called for in their responses before you bother asking.
  • Offering incentives … if it’s right for your company and customers.

4. Make it customer-friendly

To overcome customers’ biggest reasons for resisting surveys (listed above):

  • Preface questions with statements of interest: “We’d like to expand our current services. Which of these would interest you most …?” or “We want to make the order process even easier. Which of these steps did you find most difficult …?”
  • Give response categories, rather than specific figures. For example, “Poor, Needs Improvement, Good Enough, Great, Outstanding” rather than “On a scale of 1-10 …”
  • Put sensitive topics at the end. If you must ask about gender, income or other personal information, put it at the end so you don’t turn them off early in the survey. Allow them to submit answers without giving the sensitive information.

5. Measure it

Create a baseline of what success is before you get results. Measure customer satisfaction (and decide if, for example, 80% or “highly satisfied” is good enough or if it must be 99%). Or maybe you want to achieve a certain Net Promoter Score or level on a Likert scale.

Then spread the word. If people in your organization understand and believe in your measurement, they’ll more likely listen to feedback and embrace the changes you suggest based on it.

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