A Survival Guide For Optimizing Survey Responses
In beginning any customer survey program, be it satisfaction or loyalty or a combination of the two, there are several questions that immediately enter the conversation:
- What response rate(s) should we expect?
- How do we get more people to participate?
- What will hinder our participation rates?
Achieving high levels of participation is a constant struggle for organizations implementing customer survey programs. Fortunately for you, our team of LoyaltyProfessional experts has put together a survival guide so that you do not need to struggle anymore. It will give you the strategies and tactics to conquer it and take your survey program to new levels of success.
Through this 4 part blog series, we will break down the guide into the following key elements, all of which impact response rates:
1. The Sample – who are you going to survey
2. The Survey – the questions being asked of the participants
3. The Survey Process – including communications, frequency, motivations to act and closing the loop
4. General Best Practices – other recommendations to improve participation
In this first blog, we will be addressing The Sample – who will you survey and what impact can the sample can have on response rates, as well as the quality and usefulness of data.
PART I: THE SAMPLE (Contact Database)
Right out of the starting gate, an extremely critical decision needs to be made by the organization…who are we going to survey?
This is a seemingly simple decision; however, when data collection is done haphazardly, it will hamper participation and the usefulness / value of the data you receive. Putting together a systematic approach to this task will ensure that you have a valid and representative sample that is capable of feeding your organization with the intelligence they need to make strategic decisions.
Here are 2 recommended best practices to establishing a better sample for improved participation / response rates:
1. Go High, Wide, and Deep within your Accounts – 3 x 3 x 3
3 x 3 x 3, also known as high, wide and deep, is a recommended approach, or methodology, to selecting contacts. The 3 x 3 x 3 methodology allows us to survey multiple points of contacts at different management levels (senior, mid, and staff/first line management) and across different functions (Finance, HR, Marketing).
Should you find that you only have 1 or 2 contacts for an account, and cannot go high, wide, and deep, what should you do? Start building those relationships! With only 1 or 2 established relationships at an account, your risk of attrition (risk of losing the account) is going to be greater. In the event that one or both of those contacts were to leave or change positions, who would be left to continue the relationship and continue advocating for your organization? Note: some small accounts may only have 1 or 2 contacts; however, this should be the exception rather than the norm.
In applying the 3 x 3 x 3 approach, you are ensuring that you hit all points of potential influencers within the customer’s organization, providing you with a more holistic view of how the customer perceives the business relationship.
2. Selection / Cleansing Process
In the age of technology it is very easy to run a query in your CRM system of all contacts from all companies within a given demographic (i.e. industry) and send all those with an email address a survey. However, this approach will negatively impact your response rate as most CRM’s are quickly becoming a repository of names for every customer contact you have spoken with, regardless of who they are and what they do. Review your list! There needs to be an internal cleansing process to validate contacts (are they still at the organization and should they be surveyed) and contact data (i.e. email address).
In the absence of taking the time to cleanse your data, you are more likely to get bounce backs for invalid emails, and have your survey invitation go unanswered or be deleted because the contact being surveyed has no (active) relationship with your company. So, how should you approach the cleansing process? Have those responsible for the customer / account review the contact data from the CRM for validity and adjust / correct as appropriate.
Ultimately, it is everyone’s goal to have a successful customer survey program, and although some define success simply by the number of responses, it is just as important for the survey responses to come from the right people, representing multiple points of view.
So now, once we have our sample, what do we ask of them? How do we ensure the survey itself does not hinder participation?
That is what we will cover in Part 2 of our Survival Guide for Optimizing Survey Responses.