Boost Your Survey Response Rates

By: Lisa Sigler

May 6, 2015

Customer Engagement
Customer Feedback

It’s a common enough scenario. You’re with a group of people and someone mentions being hungry. Suddenly there is a murmur of general agreement, and everybody is talking about being hungry, wanting food, and wondering when the next meal will be.

So, you speak up and ask, “What do you all want for dinner?”




Survey programs can feel the same way. Although customer surveys are a critical component of a comprehensive customer experience management (CEM) initiative, response rates for the typical customer survey have dropped over the past two decades, from about 20% to only 2% today. Even when questions are timely, focused, and directly related to issues and insights derived from other sources of feedback, it is still hard to get people to respond.

So, what can you do to get customers to answer your questions so you can understand and address their needs? Having a well-designed survey helps, but you need customers to agree to take the survey before you can dazzle them with its design.  Here are things to keep in mind to help your completion numbers:

Location, location, location. Your survey has to reach customers where they are. Email surveys are very popular, and are very effective for companies with a good customer database. However, they are not the only choice. Surveys can be deployed via telephone, at point-of-sale kiosks, as links or QR codes on a sales receipt, or on your website. Offer surveys over different channels to get more exposure and to test which channels are most effective for your specific customers.

Customer focus. Consumers are up to 14% more likely to participate if they feel that a survey is relevant to them.  They want to be helpful, and they want to be heard. Craft your intro text and your questions carefully so that respondents understand how the survey applies to their lives.

Communication.  Although 95% of companies collect feedback, only 5% tell customers what they’ve done with it. This shortsighted strategy ignores the fact that customers feel more ownership of a brand when they feel like they’ve made a contribution.  Instead, tell customers what you plan to do with the data at the outset, and then follow through by letting them know the results of the survey or the actions that were taken based on the outcome.  You’ll deepen the customer relationship and make customers excited about the next survey they see from you.

Implementing these strategies will help you boost your survey response rates and build customer relationships.  (Sadly, even the best surveys are unlikely to prevent your friends from saying, “I don’t know. What do you feel like eating?”)

For a broader look at look at successful survey implementation, Clarabridge has created the Ultimate Guide to Survey Success. Download it today, or contact us for your survey needs.


Lisa Sigler is Sr. Manager of Content Marketing at Clarabridge. For over 16 years, Lisa has used her writing and editorial skills to bring the value and benefits of technology to life. In her current role, she works to demonstrate Clarabridge’s position as thought leader and trailblazer in the Customer Experience Management market. Lisa holds a B.A. of English from Kent State University. Read more from Lisa on Twitter @siglerLis.