Maximizing The Value Of Your Customer Satisfaction Survey

Philip Cleave
June 6, 2023
Picture showing how satisfaction levels can improve through surveying customers

For CX-focused organizations, the customer satisfaction survey has long been the go to tool for gaging customer sentiment.

From product quality and customer service to ecommerce and website performance. Not only do customer satisfaction surveys allow companies to identify what aspects of their CX is or isn’t working, it can also help them to gather ideas about how to improve their customer experience.

The growing threat of AI

Yet, despite this, with the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI), which is starting to change the way that some businesses gather some of their data, a number of CX professionals have started to question the role of customer satisfaction surveys. This is particularly the case among those that use AI analytics tools to collect and analyze customer feedback from a multitude of sources including social media, online product reviews, blogs and contact center interactions.

With such a wealth of information that can be gathered in large volumes very quickly, could this lead to the eventual decline of the customer satisfaction survey?

Well, the answer to this is a definite no.

Why surveys remain crucial to improving customer experience

Surveys remain at the heart of a brand's customer experience management strategy, with effective CXM programs reliant on the data these customer surveys generate to help businesses understand their customers intimately. And the information they provide about a customers’ satisfaction, customer effort and willingness to recommend is especially valuable.

Businesses can then use this data in a targeted way to understand transactional experiences, or at a more macro level to measure a customer's satisfaction with the business relationship they have with their company.

However, if they’re to get the most value from their customer satisfaction survey process organizations need to adopt best practices.

In this blog piece we’ll provide tips about how to maximize your survey response rates, design surveys to collect the information you need, and analyze and act on your survey results.

How to maximize your survey response rates

While we’ve talked about the benefits of customer surveys, one of their biggest weaknesses lies with their response rate, which can be on the low side. According to research, the average response rate for a customer satisfaction survey aimed at a B2B audience is 23%, while that figure drops further to around 13% for a B2C audience.

So, if the average B2C customer satisfaction survey offers you an insight into 16% of your audience, what about the other 84% who didn’t respond?

Well, if you’re to capture feedback from more of this silent majority, you need to be thinking of ways to maximize your response rate.

Here are some ideas to get you started with this:

Automatically offer surveys whenever you can

Whether it’s following a support call or after a purchase or subscription trial has been completed. There’s lots of key touchpoints in a customer’s journey with you where you could benefit from knowing more about their experiences through a survey.

For example, the end of a customer support call offers the perfect opportunity to find out more about their satisfaction with your customer service. However, if you’re to maintain a healthy response to this your timing is crucial. So, if you’re just relying on your support staff to manually transfer callers to your survey tool every time this opportunity arises, you may be a bit hampered.

Alternatively, with the right survey tools you can set up automatic survey triggers and alerts at key touchpoints, so that you’re always able to respond when you need to, such as when someone provides a low score to a CSAT metric question. Customers on our Enterprise price plan can set this up easily with the range of automation and integration tools that we offer with this package.

Structure your survey so it’s more engaging to complete

At some stage many of us will have been faced with trying to complete a boring and poorly set out customer satisfaction survey, with many of us dropping out before finishing it.

Well, to reduce the likelihood of your survey suffering the same fate, there’s a number of relatively straightforward things you can do to make it more interesting and engaging to complete:

Create a strong, engaging survey invitation

When you issue your survey the introduction to your survey invitation should be compelling enough to hook them in.

Customers need to know right away what’s in it for them and to help this you might even provide examples of improvements that have been made based on past survey results, or details of what you're hoping the results will help you achieve.

Keep your survey as short as possible

Although it can depend on your audience and subject matter, it’s best to make your survey as short as you can, as typically most participants wouldn’t want to spend any longer than ten minutes completing one.

You can help this process by being upfront in your survey introduction about how long it will take to complete. Similarly, the inclusion of progress bars can give respondents a more precise idea of how much more they need to do as they’re working through your survey.

Put more time and effort into your survey’s visual design

While it’s important to get the format and layout of your questionnaire correct, it’s also vital that your visual design is supportive of this. This is because people are more likely to respond to a survey that looks attractive, professional and well presented, rather than one that looks as though it’s been thrown together quickly.

During the design process, think about the layout, fonts and colors you can use to help engagement. More sophisticated features such as white labeling and custom CSS can further increase engagement and recognition by giving you a survey that completely replicates your brand. In addition, you can further improve the success of your survey by ensuring it’s fully accessible to everyone that wants to respond to it.

This is exactly the reason why we developed our own WCAG accessible survey theme for our customers to use. Available free of charge and fully compatible with assistive technologies, our accessible survey theme allows users to create surveys that can be navigated without mouse and keyboard and add alt text to images.

These are just a few suggestions to help you maximize your survey response rates and are not exhaustive. For more tips in this area, you might like to read our, ‘Improving Survey Response Rates’ blog.

Obtaining more meaningful information

While your response rates are important, they’re only one part of the overall survey process. If you’re to get the most value from your customer satisfaction survey, your results need to be meaningful and actionable.

Here are a couple of suggestions to help your survey produce more useful insights:

Link surveys to your customer journey

Remember your customer satisfaction survey results are just one component of a much broader CXM data set.

With that in mind, you should avoid a scattergram approach to surveying your customers and be more thoughtful about where to link satisfaction surveys in your customers’ journey, as these surveys can be used more strategically to fill in any knowledge gaps that you have.

For example, if you’re seeing a trend where more of your customers are abandoning you during the onboarding stage, you can get a better idea of why this might be happening by designing and administering a survey for customers at this specific stage.

Build the right customer satisfaction surveys

A strong survey design doesn't just help improve response rates; it can also help to ensure your survey generates useful information. Here are some design tips to help you obtain more actionable insights:

  • Design a survey that’s focused on what’s most important to your customers – it's understandable that many businesses tend to design a survey from their perspective. But will your customers be as interested in an update you’ve made to your logo or interactive voice response system menu as you might be? You’re more likely to obtain valuable feedback if you’re asking your customers about issues that are typically more important to them such as product quality or ease of use.
  • Use open text fields for customers to explain the reasons behind their numerical ratings and offer suggestions – without more detailed commentary from your customers, you'll just be left with numbers that you'll need to make assumptions about, which may not truly reflect what your customers are feeling.
  • Try to avoid questions that aren't supporting your customer satisfaction survey's goal - it can be tempting in any survey to think that while you have your customers attention you can ask them about something else.

However, whatever survey you create you should try to ensure its succinct and focused, so that you only get the information you need without muddying the waters. In addition, adding any questions that aren’t adding any additional value to survey, just ends up making them much longer, which can jeopardize your completion rates.

Getting more from your customer satisfaction results

When it comes to your customer satisfaction survey, the way in which you use the information you’ve gathered is one of the most important parts, because surveying without action is fruitless.

To help you to squeeze the most value from your survey results, we’ve outlined some considerations for you to think about below:

Close the loop with customers

The thing with surveys is that while they help to reveal who your greatest fans are, they can also unearth some of your more disgruntled customers that need be dealt with right away.

Consequently, for these customers you need to establish a process for contacting them, so you can try to salvage these relationships. Additionally, you also want to acknowledge highly satisfied customers, as this is a good way to turn them into brand advocates who will recommend your company to their family and friends.

Combine and analyze this data with other customer inputs

Given that survey results reveal only one facet of your customers’ opinions, they’re at their most valuable when you’re able to combine and analyze them with other data you have about your customers such as purchase history, online behavior, product reviews and customer service interactions. However, to be able to achieve this you need your survey software to allow you to seamlessly integrate with data held within other essential systems you use to move your business forward.

Fortunately, thanks our APIs, webhooks and other integration tools, customers on our Enterprise plan can seamlessly pass data from our survey software into other systems they’re using to enable greater insights to be gleaned from their customer data.

Take action on the analysis insights

Great insight is only truly valuable if you go on to use it to drive change, which in this case is using customer input to further improve customer satisfaction and customer experience.

With that in mind many businesses have implemented cross-functional customer experience management teams who are responsible for managing the list of initiatives that are unearthed during analysis. These teams are typically responsible for collaborating across the organization and implementing effective changes to the customer journey that will increase satisfaction.

Ongoing measurement is key

All of the progress you’ve made will be of no use if you don’t continue to survey your customers. And not only that, without ongoing surveying of your customers it’s impossible to know if your initiatives are working or need to be tweaked.

Moving forward, to ensure you’re always comparing like with like, try not to make too many changes to your survey questions. This means you’ll need to have a solid customer satisfaction survey in place before you baseline your satisfaction scores.

Why surveys are best for keeping up with changing customer needs

We hope you found this blog interesting and wherever you are on your customer experience journey, you have been able to identify useful bits that you can implement to further increase the value of your customer insights.

As with most areas in life, new technological developments will come along every now and again that you can combine with what you already have to further increase your understanding of your customers. However, if you’re to gain the most detailed, honest and valuable insight then the customer satisfaction and other closely related surveys, should always be your go to tool for obtaining this. Then by putting the customer survey at the core of your customer experience strategy, you should always be able to further increase the value you deliver for your customers and keep your business moving forward.

Put customer satisfaction first by delivering experiences customers will love

While making the right improvements is crucial to increasing customer satisfaction, so is generating experiences your customers love. But you’ll only be able to achieve that with the right survey tools.

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