How to Overcome Declining Survey Response Rates

Declining Survey Response

Of all the unicorns that brands and organizations chase with their customer experience (CX) programs, higher survey response rates are one of the best-known… and sometimes the most elusive. This is especially true right now, when survey response rates are declining due to a litany of new and unprecedented causes. Today, we’re going to go through those causes, how their impact goes far beyond surveys, and what brands like yours can do to respond to this continuous drop in numbers.

Why Survey Rates Fall

There are a myriad of reasons why you may be experiencing declining survey response rates. One of the more common ones we see when working with clients is that their transactional surveys, which are meant to be quite short, are considered too long by too many customers, leading to high rates of survey abandonment. Another factor that comes into play here with fair frequency is the client’s survey invitation design, which can repel customers from your survey altogether. 

However, while these problems frequently pop up in survey design, the good news for brands that encounter them is that survey length and invitation design are fairly addressable challenges. An Experience Improvement (XI) platform that can digest unstructured data for actionable sentiments will let you know more about your customers’ survey preferences. You can then apply those insights to your survey design and see a bump in response rates.

Many organizations have spent years putting their experience programs to great use fixing superficial problems like these, but a few trends have emerged in recent years that take more than a freshened up survey invite to address. The most prominent of these trends and a chief cause of declining survey completion rates is Generation Z shoppers’ reluctance to complete them. This problem has become more pronounced as more of this generation becomes old enough to independently shop, and it creates a few blind spots that brands can’t illuminate through surveys alone.

Left in the Dark

While the problem of declining survey rates is most pronounced with this younger demographic of shoppers, a few other survey shortcomings became apparent as brands scrambled to remedy this completion shortage. Namely, that as customer needs and expectations have grown more complex, so too has the amount of disparate data sources that organizations need in order to truly understand not ‘just’ why their customers shop with them, but also why customers visit competitors and enact the purchasing trends they do.

None of this is to say that surveys have become irrelevant or unimportant. They remain a vital tool for gathering feedback and the time brands invest to continuously improve them is well spent. That’s where those other data sources come into play—they exist outside of surveys, but are just as needed for creating true Experience Improvement (XI). They include:

  1. Location-tracking data
  2. Purchasing data
  3. Web search data
  4. Social media & online reviews

Painting a Full Picture

These four sources of information aren’t just nice-to-haves; they’ve become essential to completing a profile of your customer and creating a holistic, 360-degree view of their preferences, their journey with your brand, and who they are as people. These more fundamental aspects of the customer experience are essential for meaningfully improving all of your experiences, which means that it’s essential you set yourself up for data collection success if you haven’t already.

Click here to read my full-length point of view document on data sources and to take the next step in your data collection journey. I go in-depth about what each data source is, why it matters, and how best to capitalize on it to create bold, human experiences for your customers and employees. Good luck!

Jessica Petrie

Senior Strategic Insights Consultant, InMoment

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