Right around the holidays, my old college buddies and I plan a dinner for which we seek out the newest and most obscure restaurant in town. It’s our way of keeping this annual tradition from getting stale.
Sometimes it works out perfectly. Other times, well..the entire experience ends up being horrendous. Unfortunately, this year it was the latter. The steaks were overcooked and the service wasn’t so great either.
When we were done, the waiter told us that the restaurant will mail us a survey. A friend of mine -who takes his food way too seriously- was fuming. “I hope the survey has some open-ended questions”. He said almost gritting his teeth.
As fate would have it, I ran into this friend just a few days later. Naturally, I had to enquire how he filled out the survey from the restaurant. His answer was all too familiar –he hadn’t even opened it.
It just so turns out that people have become so accustomed to looking past surveys that they ignore them even when they’ve feedback to offer. Businesses across industries continue to deal with this dilemma.
Only 10-15% Customer Responds to a Survey
Surveys are crucial for businesses who are just finding their feet –even the ones that don’t directly deal with customers. Sure, big data and analytics can give a great insight but what’s preferable: sorting out trends in a sea of information or hearing straight from the horse’s mouth?
But the second option is easier said than done. According to SurveyGizmo, the response rate for external surveys is around 10-15% which is not good by any stretch of the imagination.
Companies send out innumerable surveys, trying to understand customers’ likes and dislikes but in return, they get too few replies to paint a clear picture.
Without a proper understanding of the customer psyche, businesses struggle to mitigate threats and exploit opportunities.
However, there’s a workaround to this problem. By keeping the following things into consideration, you can get consistent and quality feedback from the customers.
- Don’t Have a Robotic Subject Line that Directly Promises a Gift Card
I have witnessed this particular issue with multiple startups. They have extremely promising products but their surveys hardly receive 5-7 replies on average. Why? The subject lines of their survey emails are always go something like “Complete a survey and receive a $20 gift card”.
People think of these emails as some type of scams and choose to ignore them. Sometimes the algorithm of email services like Gmail’s put these emails in the promotion tab as it usually does with mails that mention money in the subject line.
But there’s a better way to go about it. Eliminating the word “survey” and making the email more personalized with subject lines such as “We need your opinion” or ‘Can you answer a few questions” makes it look at a lot more organic. Emails with such headlines have higher chances of scoring clicks from people who may have a negative perception of surveys.
Similarly, while gift cards along with coupons are great marketing tools, talking about them in an indirect manner is always the better option. People are bombarded with offers of gift cards every day and many times, it’s the cyber criminals trying to scam them for money. For this very reason –some consumers want nothing to do with gift cards. A better way to get these people to click is by mentioning a prize when they’re done with the survey.
- Keep it Short and Simple
By the time the customers have answered the seventh question, they are already regretting clicking on the survey. So businesses need to respect people’s time. Instead of going overboard, try keeping the survey as brief as possible. If you’re not evaluating a certain aspect of your business and are just seeking customer feedback, the following three questions should suffice.
- Are you satisfied with the product/service?
- Would you recommend it to a friend or family member?
- How can we improve our product/service?
With long surveys, there’s always a risk that respondents will rush through the answers after the first few questions which would drastically impact the quality of the data collected. Therefore, as a general rule of thumb, keep the questions to around 5 and don’t go over 10 under any circumstances.
- Try Exploring Other Mediums to Get Response
It’s extremely difficult these days to get a response through emails as most of the people’s inbox is littered with spam. Naturally, your survey email gets lost in the humongous pile of all the discount offers and advertisements. But email is not the only way you could invite customers to fill out a survey.
In one of my previous jobs at ClothingRIC, we experimented with asking for customers’ Twitter handles instead of their email addresses. Most customers were more than happy to give us this information as Twitter is a less-personal forum, especially when compared to Facebook. The company used the website to stay in touch with the customers and occasionally persuaded them to fill out a survey.
The response ratio was exceptionally better than when we were simply sending out emails en masse. Of course, Twitter is not the only medium that could be utilized for this purpose. LinkedIn and Facebook’s Messenger are two outlets where companies can directly engage customers and acquire valuable information.
- Add a Webpage With Question on Your Website
Another way to get a response is by putting a survey on the company website and eliminating any third party from the process. Creating a survey on Google Form might be extremely convenient, but it doesn’t lend any credibility to your invitation.
Anyone can create surveys on a publically accessible platform like Google Form. And for this reason, you are better off featuring a section on your website that has two or three questions that have high relevance to your business.
On a similar note, putting a small box where users can write their queries within two to three lines will let you know what’s working and what’s not.
- Call the Customers
Some customers need you to put in more effort than just simply mailing them with a survey. These customers would rather have you engage with them directly through a call. This way, they are certain that a company values their feedback.
Startups, in particular, can gain a great deal by getting on the phone with the early adopters of their products. By knowing what problems their product was able to resolve and how it could improve further, these businesses could have a clear path forward. Such conversations between businesses and customers can also cement early product loyalty.