Join Jeff Toister for an in-depth discussion in this video Increasing response rates, part of Using Customer Surveys to Improve Service.
- When it comes to surveys there's no standard for how high your response rate should be. There are just too many variables to pick one specific number. What we'll do in this video is walk through how to get a response rate that's right for your customer service survey. We'll start by looking at how to determine if your response rate is good already. Next, I'll give you some tips for raising your response rate even higher. There are three things I look at when determining whether a survey has a good response rate. Usefulness, Representation and Reliability.
Usefulness refers to whether the survey is giving you actionable data. Even a tiny response rate can be useful if it helps you discover a problem you can fix. For example, let's say just a few customers complain about a specific product. This might help you discover a product defect before too many more customers are affected. Representation refers to how well the survey results represent your actual customers. Let's say you wanted to find out how well your customers like using self service options on your website.
You might not have a complete picture if you only surveyed customers who successfully used one of your self service options. There might be a large group of customers who tried to use self service, got frustrated and wound up contacting a customer service rep for help instead. Reliability refers to how much you can trust the survey results to be accurate. I generally think that usefulness and representation are more important than reliability, but reliability can become very important when using your survey to make big decisions.
The link on the screen will take you to a handy, statistical calculator. It asks for just a few variables and then it will show you how reliable you can expect your survey data to be. Your response rate doesn't matter as long as your survey data is useful, representative and reliable. Sometimes, a response rate of five percent or even lower can fit this criteria. Of course, there are ways to increase your response rate if you need more responses to fit these criteria.
Customers get tired of being constantly surveyed. So one option, is to reduce how frequently individual customers receive surveys. Some companies create specific rules for how often an individual customer can be surveyed. That way, a customer who contacts you for service two times in quick succession, won't be surveyed again. Customers tend to abandon long surveys. So another technique is to make your survey shorter. If you have a clear objective and write good questions, this usually isn't a problem.
You can also adjust the timing of your survey. For transactional surveys, it helps to survey your customer immediately afterwards, rather than waiting to send out all your surveys just once a month. For relationship surveys, you also have to be careful about timing. For instance, you'll probably get a very low response rate if you email your customers a survey invitation right before a holiday weekend. Changing the delivery method can also help. For example, a company dramatically increased their response rates by switching from a paper and pen survey to a survey delivered via email.
Finally, don't be afraid to experiment. Try delivering a survey through two different methods and see which one yields better results. Remember, there's not a specific number that represents an ideal response rate. You should feel confident if your survey so long as the data is useful, representative and reliable.