Improving Customer Satisfaction Survey Response Rates

Many thanks to Rajat Vajpeyi who suggested this topic.

Customer satisfaction surveys are great — but with the halo effect, customers who are very happy and customers who are very unhappy are much more likely to respond than others, so how do you get through to the customers in the middle, who may constitute the majority?

Idea #1: the one-question survey

Your customers are busy. If you ask them 15 questions about each detail of their experience, they may blanch at the prospect of filling out the long questionnaire (plus, who knows what “professionalism” means anyway, and what exactly is response time, from a customer’s perspective). I’ve become a great fan of the one question survey:

On a scale of 0 to 10, rate your experience with X (a case, a website visit, the entire support experience over the past year, whatever it is you are trying to measure)

That’s it! Add a large comment field and you are in business.

Idea #2: follow up on bad surveys

Last month, I had a bad experience at a hotel, part of a nationwide chain, and a bad experience with a plumber, also part of a nationwide chain. I dutifully filled out (not so happy) evaluation forms for both. I never heard back from the hotel, but I had a call the next business day from the plumber. I did not like the outcome of the call but I did feel I was heard, and I will fill out the next evaluation form from that vendor. The hotel, not so much.

Idea #3: publish the results

That’s right, put the results on the website, good, bad, or indifferent. Customers will know that you are taking the survey seriously (especially if the numbers dip now and then, as they will naturally. For extra credit, indicate what changes you have made in response to survey results.

Idea #4: follow up on good surveys

How about a short email to the customer, copying the support engineer? The customer will immediately know that someone read the survey, and the support engineer can bask in the glory for a few minutes.

Idea #5: track the response rate

If you are getting fewer than 10% of your surveys back, you are not getting enough data for it to be reliable. 20% is a great goal.

What are you doing to increase your response rate? What do you consider to be a good response rate?



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1 Comment

  • Doug Colter Reply

    I believe anything better than 15% response is good.

    We try to move customers from the middle ground to the high ground by sending a followup message to the customer from the Support Analyst with something like this: Dear Customer, we provided the solution on regarding . I am following up with you to confirm everything is working well for you.

    Note that a phone call works best.

    We do have a confirm-to-close process, but this call puts a bit of “wow” into our service.

    Doug C

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