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6 Ways To Increase Survey Response Rates

5 point customer service surveyWe all know that surveys can be powerful feedback tools. How satisfied are your employees? Employee satisfaction surveys can provide insights on their passions, stresses and ideas. How do your customers really feel about their latest purchase? Transactional surveys can help uncover customer insights and increase customer retention. Whether you’re looking to gather information, identify and diagnose problems or uncover emerging opportunities, surveys can be a low-cost, highly effective tool for meeting your objectives.

The trick is getting enough survey responses from the right mix of people to ensure the results are accurate and reliable. Depending on the type of survey, the industry, and the audience, typical response rates can vary a great deal, but when the response rates are just too low, the survey results are of little or no use.

Calculating Survey Response Rates

basic survey response rate formulaThe simplest way to calculate a survey response rate uses this basic formula: the number of surveys collected divided by the number of people you contacted with an invitation to take the survey. So, for example, if you sent survey invitations to 100 customers, and 28 of them responded to the survey, you would have a 28% response rate for that survey. Learn more about calculating response rates here.

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6 Quick Tips For Higher Response Rates

Since surveys are critical for understanding and improving both business to consumer (B2C) and business to business (B2B) working environments and customer interactions, creating surveys that will not only result in response rates with an acceptable statistic, but an excellent one, is largely in the details of survey creation and deployment. Here are 6 quick tips for conducting a survey with higher response rates:

  1. Know Your Audience
    While this seems fairly intuitive, this fundamental step is often overlooked. Know your survey audience: who are they, what type of topics are they interested in, when are they most likely to be available to take your survey, what is the best communication channel to use to reach them? Make sure the questions are all relevant to your specific audience. Remember that survey topics of interest to some groups within your audience may be of little or no interest to others.
  2. Update Contact Information
    Nothing can sink a survey’s success like an invalid email or dated physical address. The first step in a higher response rate is ensuring your audience receives the invitation.
  3. Keep It Short And Sweet
    People are far more apt to take a shorter survey than a longer one that may take too much time out of their busy day. In general, keep the survey to 5-7 minutes in length, allow options to save and return to the survey, be sure your wording and questions are straightforward, and if you have to ask complicated or sensitive questions, save them for the end in case people try to abandon the survey at that point.
  4. Practice To Perfection
    We’ve all heard practice makes perfect and that holds true in the world of administering surveys, too. Practice by conducting a pilot test for a small group of individuals to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the survey and will help you project what your response rate is most likely to be.
  5. Be Mindful Of Timing
    A good joke often includes perfect timiing. Same holds true with a good survey. Deploying an employee survey at 4:30 pm on Friday is not going to help your response rate. Asking a customer about their purchase experience 6 months after the transaction occurred is not going to help your response rate. Instead, employee surveys should take place at the beginning of the workday Tuesdays through Thursdays and should not be conducted on or near a holiday or special event. And you want to capture the customer’s opinion while the experience of the transaction is still fresh in mind.
  6. Announce Your Intentions
    Prior to sending out actual survey invitations, notify your target audience. Creative methods like including the announcement in a newsletter, a bill, on your website, or on the bulletin board in the break room will let people know you’re planning to conduct a survey with little extra cost. Be sure to include a brief explanation of your intentions as well as when and how they should expect their invitations to arrive. Tell them how long it will take and what you plan to do with the results and you’re ahead of the game before the invitations even go out. Surveys that are perceived to be important achieve much higher response rates.

You can learn a lot from your customers and employees, if you can get them to fill out your survey. For more detailed information and 6 additional tips for improving your response rates, download a complimentary copy of 11 Easy Ways to Improve Your Survey Response Rates, by Josh Harker, Data Gathering Strategist and Kyle LaMalfa, Best Practices Director & Loyalty Expert.

What’s your best piece of advice for garnering a higher survey response rate?
Tell us in the comments, we’d love to hear from you.