How to get the best from your client surveys

Tony Latter | 7th April 2017

Tips to boost your client survey response rates to improve your services

As business leaders, you will be aware that great customer service is vital for organisational success.

Client satisfaction surveys allow you to gather insights on your services and gain a better understanding of your clients’ needs. Off the back of these insights you can improve your services and products significantly. It also shows your clients that you value their opinion, which will improve customer loyalty.

With this in mind, we have written a guide to help you get the most out of your client surveys:

Keep it short and simple

Simplicity is key. If your questions are too long, complicated or difficult to digest, then it can negatively affect the validity of your results and reduce your response rates. Surveys should be short, relevant and user-friendly. Make efforts to rotate focus areas to gather a wider set of insights.

By reducing redundant phrasing, you will shorten your questions without affecting the meaning. For example, avoid writing: “What are the chances of you purchasing our products in the near future?” Instead, you can write: “How likely are you to purchase our products again?“ This will ensure everyone understands the question and won’t be put off by the excessive amount of wording.
Sending your clients a long list of questions, can result in them rushing through the survey with the aim of finishing as quickly as possible. This ensures they are not giving each question the necessary attention required to help you improve your offering.

Your surveys should consist of 3-5 questions, to ensure they take up minimal time. This will improve completion rates and response-validity; whist reducing drop-out rates.

Construct smart questions that fulfil your business goals

When designing your question-set it is important to only ask questions that align with your business goals and can be used to improve performance.

Avoid leading questions that direct respondents towards a specific answer or distorts their knowledge due to bias in your phrasing. Similarly, you should avoid all loaded questions by excluding assumptions, emotionally-charged wording and preferences.

Each question should have a clearly-defined purpose and should be relevant for both parties. So, be strict during your selection process and be certain that every question will help you to improve your services and products.

Highlight how you will add value to the client

Before you send anything out to your clients you should ask yourself “what’s in it for them?”

Avoid asking questions that will fail to deliver organisational value for them – “Why did you decide to use our services?” How did you hear about us?” These sorts of questions are not mutually beneficial, so have no place in a client satisfaction survey.
Instead ask questions that will help you to improve your services for the client – “How happy are you with our products and services?” “How highly do you rate the project team you have been working with?”

When your customers are made aware of your desire to improve services that will benefit them, they are more likely to complete the surveys. You should explain why you are sending out the surveys, the simplicity of the process and your desire to listen and act upon their feedback to make mutually beneficial improvements. This will generate buy-in and significantly improve your response rates.

Strategically position your surveys

By adopting a strategic approach with your surveying, you will familiarise everyone with the programme and ensure maximum engagement.

Educate your client around why you’re sending it, and highlight the organisational benefits. Find a suitable time to send out the surveys that works for your client – not for you. Position your surveys so everyone knows when the surveys are coming and how many questions to expect. By strategically sending them out at regular points in time, following up, re-measuring and repeating the process – you will ensure maximum buy-in and a seamless delivery.

Consider frequency

A key part in ensuring long term engagement with your programme is to ensure you get the frequency of your surveys right. By adopting our Engagement See-Saw model, you will be able to achieve a fine balance between the needs of your company and the needs of your client.
Put simply, if you ask too many questions, too frequently you risk frustrating your clients and impacting upon their time too much. This will be detrimental to your response rates and retention rates. By asking too few questions, too infrequently it will be of no use to you and the client may lose faith in the process. You won’t gather the required insights and trends to make key business decisions that will benefit you and your clients.
To create a truly engaging survey, you need to strike a balance between frequency and length, then develop a programme that will benefit everyone.

Respond to everyone

Failure to action feedback or reply to helpful comments will disengage your clients and ensure they become disillusioned by the surveying programme. To combat this, ensure you act immediately on any replies that require your attention.
If your clients are taking the time to provide valuable insights, then you must reciprocate this and ensure they never feel like they are wasting their time or being ignored.

Make efforts to ensure your surveys are read

Finally, to achieve high response rates, you first need high delivery rates and high open rates. If your surveys are filed into a spam folder, or they aren’t opened – then all the previous advice becomes redundant.

To prevent people from ignoring your survey, here is a small checklist:

• Make the subject line short, informative and engaging.
• Send the surveys from a trustworthy IP address.
• The survey should be sent by someone the client is familiar with, not from your company, or a specific team. Keep it personal and familiar for the client.
• Include a simple, easily-understood call to action.
• Experiment. There’s no silver bullet when it comes to boosting response rates. You should experiment with your subject lines, wording and positioning to ensure you find the best solution for each client.