These days, most customers’ inboxes are filled to the brim with emails requesting their feedback, making the feedback survey somewhat of a hard sell. That being said, surveys are still one of the most effective methods for attaining data from consumers and can be extremely valuable when aligned with strategy, analysis and research.

To help your brand increase survey response rates, and the accuracy of the responses, we’ve compiled a list of tips and best practices – here’s Part 1, tips 1 through 5:

1. Value Your Customers’ Time and Make Surveys Short
Show customers you care by making surveys as short and as to-the-point as possible. A few key points to help you achieve this include:

  • Rotate questions sets

By rotating question sets, you can gather a wide range of feedback from customers without inundating them with too many questions. It’s good practice to narrow your list down to 20 essential questions that can be rotated into 4-5 question sets with every individual survey.

  • Ask questions that generate responses you intend to act on

Why? Because you are sending out this survey for a purpose, and that purpose is to improve your business in some manner. Are you trying to benchmark certain aspects of customer service like friendliness, knowledge, wait times or issue resolution? If so, use the same scale and wording in your questions. Customers want to know that their feedback will make positive changes for your company, so keep this perspective in mind when designing your question sets.

2. Have a Clear and Compelling Call to Action
As with all marketing, make your call to action clear, concise and compelling. For example, rather than the standard, “take our survey,” state in the subject heading what the survey is for, and in the body, reiterate this while telling the customer what they stand to gain from completing the survey. Some brands have even taken to telling customers how the surveys are going to be used to improve operations, or have shared how past surveys were able to change operations for the better.

3. Get Personal
Personalised questions show customers that you pay attention to their past experiences with your brand. Rather than asking “How was our service?” (which leads to a generic response with no actionable information in it) you should address the customer by name with specific information about their past interaction. Here’s an example: “Sarah, when you purchased your iPhone 5 from Greg, how satisfied were you with your service on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is very dissatisfied and 10 is very satisfied?”

Not sure what information to use to personalise your survey? Top companies are adding data such as age, gender, contract length, ARPU, location, role, products or services purchased for a start – a move that, for some, has increased response rates for some surveys by 40-50%[1].

4. Add Open-Ended Questions and Use Comment Boxes
By offering customers a space to answer freely, you are creating the breeding ground for detailed information about the customer experience that closed-ended questions just can’t grasp. Additionally, current analytics technology is so advanced that it deciphers critical customer sentiment from unstructured comments, such as when customers are writing about “long wait times” or the “website [being] down.” More broadly, open-ended questions or comment boxes show customers that you want to hear more from them, and that you care about ALL of their concerns, lengthy or not.

5. Make Surveys Channel-Appropriate
Brands can reach customers on an increasing range of channels in our modern day, so they must ensure they are using the right timing and channel for their surveys. For instance, if a customer has filled out a comment form on the company website, it would be logical to email them back with a survey, or to use a live chat to offer the survey. In other cases, immediacy is integral to accurate and critical feedback, which is why SMS is emerging as a leading response rate choice. In fact, in some cases, SMS surveys garner up to 20% higher response rates than CATI and email surveys. Why? Because customers are most likely to want to give feedback right after an interaction. So, for instance, if they’ve just purchased a phone from a brick and mortar location and had either a great or horrible experience, a text sent as they are walking away will be more emotionally enticing than an email sent or call made one week later.

To read part 2 of our tips, click here.

Looking for our full report? Download our free paper, “10 Survey Best Practices and Tips to Increase Response Rates.”


[1] Forrester Research Inc., “Top Ways To Combat Survey Fatigue,” January 25, 2013.