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10 Ways to Increase response rates on customer surveys

I guess you make sure that you find out what your customers think about your company on a regular basis? Customer surveys are also your chance to find out what your customers want.

It all sounds nice, but the truth is that your customers have a huge amount of other things to think about than to answer your questions. If you want answers to your questions, you must think about the person answering the question.

Here are 10 things to consider:

1. Your questions must be clear for anyone to respond
Give people a clear reason why they should sacrifice valuable time and trouble to answer your questions. If your customer buys bags from your business, ask questions related to it. Explain to them why you're asking them questions, how you will treat the material, how it will be processed and what the results are expected to be for the person responsible.

2. Review the number of questions
Page after page of detailed questions will just scare people off. Ask the questions you really want answered and don't try to be a research company. If you make fewer questions that are quick to answer, you will get a much higher response rate.

3. Test first
Try your survey on a small number of your customers first so you can afford to send a follow up letter to those who don't respond. Review whether you can make your queries better and more relevant.

4. Send a cover letter with the survey
Preferably a letter personally addressed to the person you approach, but a letter where you have signed off in ink with a personal greeting will also do. Avoid all “Dear customer letters.”

5. Start your investigation with the simplest and most interesting question
Chances are bigger you get all of the customer's attention that way.

6. Tell people what happens afterwards
If you think the outcome of the investigation will be interesting for your customer, mention that you intend to report the results when finished. It can make the customer feel more involved in your investigation.

7. Give a gift
Send a gift along with the questionnaire so that the customer's conscience ensures that the he/she wants to give something (answers) back to you.

8. Make it easy to respond
Make sure it's easy to send answers to you in the way that is easiest for the customer. Postage-paid return envelopes are good, but fax messages are also appropriate.

9. Call hard-to-get customers
Instead of sending out a form, you can call your customers and get the answers you want by telephone. Hands on is good for busy people.

10. Use new media
Post your survey on your website or make it available on a computer that your customers can use on your premises. That way you can have an ongoing investigation. Just don't forget that visitors to your website or people who come to your business also need an incentive to give you answers. My tip is offering them a gift.

About the author

Stefan Ekberg has worked in marketing for small business for 20 years and has written around 30 books on how small business owners can market themselves with limited resources. . In 2012 Stefan was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in Stockholm.

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