Customer surveys are one of the best ways to get qualitative information. Surveys allow people to share constructive and positive insights in a place where they can feel comfortable speaking candidly about how your customers are feeling about your product, services, and other offerings, rather than directly to the face of a question-asker. Often, the depth of responses you get in a written survey will go beyond what you’d uncover in a face-to-face or over-the-phone interview.
That being said, 80% of consumers abandon surveys halfway through, and 72% believe that surveys interfere with their experience of a product or service. Data even suggests that customers feel a “what’s the catch?” mentality when filling one out. Fortunately, there are some best practices you can use to improve your survey response rates. Here are the five best ways to create better surveys and collect more meaningful customer feedback.
Rule #1 Get Your Targeting Right
Targeting doesn’t just apply to emails. When it comes to sending surveys, companies can, and should, take the importance of targeting to heart. Using historical and customer data, you run a better chance of collecting survey responses if you target the appropriate people at the appropriate time for your surveys.
For example, if someone just signed up for an account, it might not be the best time to ask them how they feel about your product offering. It could be a good time to ask them about how easy your purchase process was, though. Creating relevant messaging and reaching out at the right time helps your customers feel like you care about them.
Added bonus: By making clever decisions about when to reach out to people, you prime yourself to receive the freshest, most relevant feedback.
Rule #2 Make It Worth Their Time With Rewards and Incentives
To get the most out of survey incentives, pay close attention to how and where you are using incentivization. You might find that some incentives work better than others for your customers. To find what works, try running A/B tests for randomly selected groups, comparing survey response rates for different incentives (for example, an Amazon gift card versus company credit).
Similarly, consider what types of surveys you are incentivizing. Generally, incentives will be more impactful for longer, more in-depth surveys—try not to use them for things like Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) or Customer Effort Score (CES). It is also important to note that using incentives around CSAT or CES could urge users to not be as blunt or honest as they normally would have been with their feedback. To get the best, most transparent answers, you should leave these types of surveys unincentivized.
Rule #3 Customers Have ADD, So Keep It Short
Try to keep your surveys as short as possible while still making sure that all the questions that you need to ask are covered. In the same regard: don’t ask for any information that you might already have. The more questions you ask, the longer it will seem and the more likely your users will be to abandon your survey.
One way to do that is by using forms with pre-filled data fields. Chances are, you already have a lot of customer data, especially if you are emailing specific users that you have targeted about the survey. If so, pre-fill data fields such as email, name or demographic information to focus on the meaty part of the survey where you actually need customer input.
Keeping surveys short can also improve the quality of the data you receive. By the 20-minute mark within a survey, the attention of respondents greatly diminishes—leaving you with subpar, potentially rushed answers.
Rule #4 Ask More Than Once
Take a page from sales’ book and, if a customer doesn’t respond the first time you ask for a survey response, follow-up and ask again. Test out different variations too; instead of just sending the same email with the same subject line over and over again, try a few different versions to see if one is more successful than the others. This does the double duty of getting your customers’ attention, and A/B testing potential email subjects for the future.
Rule #5 Ask Easy, Straightforward Questions
When asking survey questions, stick to direct questions that have a defined answer. Try to be sure that you cover every potential answer that someone could give, and ask the question in a way that is easy to understand. The more direct and simply-structured your questions are, the better your response quality will be.
Surveys are an excellent way to aggregate data about your customers and their sentiments around your product and service offerings. That being said, if they are done incorrectly, you’re just as likely to get no answer as you are to get a great one. Follow the five steps outlined above to create more user-friendly surveys that drive responses and data quality. Keep it short, sweet and targeted to get valuable insights from the people that have the freshest experiences. And remember: surveys are only as insightful as you make them, so use your time wisely and ask about the things that actually make sense and matter!