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What response rate should I expect? Should I offer incentives? We answer these questions and more that came up as we chatted to delegates at the ICS Conference.

Earlier this year we exhibited at the Institute of Customer Service (ICS) Annual Conference, alongside a range of esteemed customer service / experience peers and experts. We had a great day, learned a lot and had many fantastic conversations.

Throughout the day we spoke with lots of different companies, of different sizes and from different sectors. Despite these differences, several questions were repeatedly asked by people we met. Some of these questions, along with our answers, are below…

What response rate should I expect?

By a long shot, the most common question we were asked at the conference - and are asked a lot day-to-day. And we can see why. People want to see how their current surveys are performing, and whether what they currently get is above/below the average.

Sadly, there is no single answer we can give them. There is no golden figure which they can benchmark themselves against, and nor should they. Amongst CustomerSure clients, response rates vary between 4% and 40%, and there are so many variables which influence this.

The type of relationship, the sector, quality of data, survey relevance, survey timing, survey length & design, how the survey is introduced, how the survey is followed up, how frequently you ask for feedback etc, etc… There are many facets which will influence the likelihood of someone choosing to respond or not.

We recommend rather than fixating on response rate and whether yours is higher or lower than other companies, you should consider what you can do to make the giving feedback process easier and better for customers, with an outcome they would expect. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Then, rather than benchmarking response rates against others, you’ll be improving yours, and impressing your customers, which is surely more important.

For a more detailed reply to this question, read our article here!

Should I offer incentives to get a higher response?

Very short answer - no.

The long answer is that there is little evidence that an incentive increases response rates, or makes someone more likely to take part in your survey. People tend to be very cynical of prize draws (and so they should be) because the chance of them actually winning anything is so remote that it doesn’t swing the survey into the territory of ‘I need to do this’.

In fact, some customers can be so cynical of the prize draw tactic, that it actually works against you and customers think less of you for it. There are better, more effective ways to increase response rates, like those we’ve detailed in the post/section above.

We have a more detailed article on why incentives don’t work here!

How can we get more responses to our surveys?

After asking the above two questions, the reasonable next question is “OK, so what can we do to get more responses to our surveys?”

A totally fair question, but we would argue this is asked from the business’s point of view - how can we get more data? - but it should be asked in a way that benefits customers - how can we make the giving feedback process easier and better for customers? And the by-product of doing this will be increased response rates.

We have three golden rules which will make your feedback programme far more effective (and increase response rates):

  • Ask for feedback at the right time
  • Make it really quick and easy for customers to give feedback
  • Follow-up appropriately

They sound blindingly obvious but sadly all too often these rules are not only ignored, but many companies do the opposite!

They ask for feedback at the wrong times (when customers have nothing to say or can’t remember the experience they are being asked about) The surveys are lengthy, tedious and poorly designed (page after page – ‘death by next’, irrelevant questions and customers being punished for answering questions honestly with loads more questions generated on the back of it. All pet hates of ours!) There is zero follow-up and customers hear absolutely nothing back, even if they provide lots of detail and raise any issues they have.

Not only do these actions really hammer response rates, they also make customers less likely to respond to future surveys. Not to mention any other reputational damage that could be done.

To learn how to embed our three golden rules into your customer experience programme, delight your customers and improve response rates, read our Three Golden Rules guide. (And learn twelve more ways to improve response rates here).

How should I share feedback with colleagues to make a difference?

Sadly for many businesses, customer experience measurement and improvement sits in a silo. A department engages with customers, collects feedback, measures and tracks KPIs and other metrics, and every so often they will produce a PowerPoint deck or report to share with the business. This is fine and does a job, but they are missing an opportunity here.

Following up with customers appropriately is integral to a successful customer feedback programme. This can be extended to sharing feedback with colleagues and including them in the customer experience programme. Give them visibility to what customers are saying about them and their part of the business. Even empower them to take ownership of the feedback and respond back to customers.

Of course, everyone has their own job to do and it needs to be considered carefully how to do this without impacting on people’s other tasks too much, but we would argue transparency and sharing feedback is critical to achieving true customer centricity.

If you really want to put the customer at the heart of your business and you understand that loyalty and highly satisfied customers is a key driver of your commercial success (and also the right thing to do), then you need to break apart the silo and get wider colleagues and teams to at least see the feedback and make the link between what they do and customer satisfaction.

To find out more, read our short guide containing three practical tips on how to share feedback with colleagues.

Looking for more insights on collecting and utilising customer feedback?

At CustomerSure, we’re fanatical about helping our customers drive tangible business benefits through their customer feedback process.

To help, we produce a wide range of guides and resources (and award winning customer feedback software) to assist at every stage of the journey.

For anything else, we’re just a contact form away!

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