Does your feedback program need a summer break? Tips to avoid survey fatigue.
We’re halfway through 2016 already, so it’s a great time to assess how your feedback program has done so far and make necessary adjustments to improve in the second half of the year. One of the biggest challenges to look at is your survey response rates and to question whether your customers are experiencing survey fatigue.
Broadly speaking, low or decreasing survey response rates are the result of two potential factors:
1) Inundation: Because the majority of companies have launched feedback programs, consumers (in B2C and B2B alike) are inundated with requests for feedback. They’re simply sick of being asked for input and have a quick delete or ignore response to your pleas for asking, even for just a few minutes of their time. To overcome this challenge, you need to rethink subject lines for email survey deployments, and headlines and intro copy for web-based surveys. Be creative, concise, and think from the customer’s mind. Would you be compelled to respond? If not, tighten up how you ask and run A/B tests to measure response success. Also, remember that less is more, when it comes to timing. See the second bullet below for guidelines on avoiding over-surveying.
2) Non-engagement: Even when customers aren’t overwhelmed by the sheer number of surveys they receive, response rates can be low when customers are simply not engaged with the brand. This results in an unrepresentative outcome or “non-response bias.” In other words, the lower your response rates, the larger the chance that your surveys show a false indication of what your broader customer base really thinks. The non-response bias tends to occur when only those people who’ve had an excellent, or more often, very bad customer experience reply to your survey. If you suspect this is happening at your company, it’s time to step back and consider new and strategic solutions and methods to collect a more representative sample.
Whatever the reasons for your low response rates, there are ways to reduce survey fatigue. Here are four tips to increase your completion rates:
- Ask the right way. Determine what devices and methods get the best responses for your audience. Your customers may love online surveys, but hate receiving requests via text. For some companies, IVR surveys tank while emails prevail. One note to consider: research shows that 35-40 percent of customer surveys will be accessed on a mobile device in 2016. So, don’t give up on designing easy-to-use mobile surveys. As for methods, you may need to experiment with Net Promoter Score, customer effort score, CSAT and others to choose the most appropriate measurement for your customers and your business.
- Practice discipline to avoid over-surveying. Easier said than done, but we need to resist pushing the limits of how frequently we survey. Each department has an individual responsibility to respect the customer’s time and be as restrained as possible. But, this is a cross-organizational challenge as well. It’s not enough to constrain the number of survey requests that your department sends. The key to success is knowing exactly which groups are sending surveys, when they’re deploying, and keeping a master list and schedule. Yes, this can be difficult and cause disputes about who gets to send what when, especially for larger companies. But you must focus on the big picture. Simultaneous survey bombardment will surely irritate customers, potentially to the point of unsubscribing from your communications.
- Communicate value and outcomes. People are more willing to contribute opinions when they know why you want their feedback and how it will be used. Among the things to articulate in your requests are 1) why you’re asking 2) how long it will take / how many questions 3) whether the data will be anonymous or not and 4) how you plan to use the data you’ve gathered. This last point is especially critical. Share in advance the impact that their feedback will have on how you do business. Be specific! Saying “please help us improve our business” doesn’t cut it. Think more along the lines of “We’re trying to improve our phone customer service and shorten call resolution times” or “We want to streamline your in-store experience.”
- Make it super easy. Even if you’ve done all of the above, you’ll still see low response rates if the survey is cumbersome to complete. First, be sure the transition from invitation to actual survey is totally seamless. They shouldn’t feel confused by design or messaging after clicking through; where they end up needs to align with where they came from. Also, design good-looking, concise surveys that support your brand and don’t ask for data you already have. Lastly, test, test, and test again to ensure that the experience (from both a technical and design standpoint) isn’t hindered by any glitches or extra steps that could be smoothed or condensed.