The Secret to Improving Your CX Survey Response Rates

It is a fact that CX survey response rates have been declining. Additionally, we are being surveyed more and more every day about every mundane thing in our lives. Even the federal government is in on it—an executive order in 1993 directed federal agencies to gather public feedback on how well they delivered services and to strive to offer a comparable level of customer experience with private companies. Orders similar to that one have continued into the present day.

But, with surveys being the lifeblood of nearly all customer experience (CX) programs, what is a CX practitioner to do to improve their CX survey response rates? Much has been written about the tactical things a survey owner can do: list hygiene,  fatigue or quarantine rules, visual appeal of the invitation, subject line, formatting, time estimates in the invitation, etc.  And while these elements can have some impact, they are temporary band-aids for the over-surveying problem.

The Secret to Improving CX Survey Response Rates Is…

I’ll let you in on a secret: if you truly want to improve and sustain your response rates, look to your CX program (specifically your closed loop processes). There are two critical things any company can do to improve its response rates, and they tie back to the inner and outer loop concepts described in the Net Promoter SystemSM.

You’ve probably heard that it’s vital for organizations to close these loops, as doing so can help you achieve everything from Experience Improvement (XI) to enhanced customer retention and sustained business growth. That’s true!  But effectively closing these loops also provides an incentive and opens a door for continuous feedback from your customers or members.

The Inner Loop

The inner loop refers to the systems, processes, and teams that organizations use to respond to customers one-on-one to address negative feedback. Having an effective inner closed loop process is of obvious importance to any company that wants to keep its doors open, let alone create a differentiated and meaningful experience for customers. Fail to close the inner loop, and you open the “leaky bucket.”

However, if you can build a system that allows you to receive customer feedback, analyze it for actionable insights, and respond both meaningfully and expediently, you’ll have a much easier time retaining customers and extending their lifetime value. You will learn more about their individual preferences and may even potentially cross-sell or upsell them to additional products and services.

There is also plenty of research that demonstrates that customers whose complaints have been successfully resolved tend to leave higher review scores than customers who never had a complaint in the first place! Finally, by responding to customers when they have complaints, you demonstrate that you have listened and acted on their feedback, giving them a strong incentive to provide feedback again in the future.

The Outer Loop

The scope of the outer loop is considerably wider than that of the inner loop and requires more organizational resources, cross-silo cooperation, and team coordination.  Rather than focus on individual customer interactions and complaint resolution, the outer loop is about the actions your organization takes on the collective feedback you’re receiving to drive Experience Improvement and communicate those improvements back to a much broader segment of customers (if not your entire customer base). The one-on-one interactions that comprise the inner loop are certainly important, but the outer loop is all about incorporating those into a cumulative group effort to drive sustained Experience Improvement.

This improves your CX survey response rates by demonstrating to all customers that your organization truly does care about feedback and attempts to take action to improve the overall customer experience. This provides a feedback incentive even for customers who may not have shared it in the past, as they see the direct benefit.

Widening Focus

Click here to read my full-length Point of View on how focusing on your CX program will actually help you achieve better outcomes. In the meantime, take advantage of anything you might have learned here to meaningfully improve your inner and outer loop processes. I promise you you’ll see a difference.

About Author

Eric Smuda CX Distinguished Practitioner in XI Strategy and Enablement

Eric Smuda has built a distinguished career out of turning venerable brands into CX powerhouses. His novel, impassioned approach to customer experience implementation changed the face of the rental car industry, in which he found award-winning ways to connect customers and companies. It’s only fitting, then, that Eric serves as a Principal of CX Strategy & Implementation at InMoment, lending his seasoned perspective to many of the company’s strategies.

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