Beating survey fatigue: the ultimate guide to increasing your customer satisfaction feedback rates

In this guide:

Your customers are tired of providing feedback that gets ignored.

Survey fatigue is real. But it’s widely misunderstood as being a problem of “too many surveys”.

Sure, being bombarded by feedback pop-ups and emails 24/7 annoys people. And the longer a survey is, the more exhausting it can be. But the main reason customers get fed up with providing feedback is that they don’t see the point.

They get asked for their opinion by just about every product and service they use, and it feels like an empty gesture at this point. Companies want data about customer satisfaction, but they rarely act on it in a tangible way.

You need to show them that you’re different.

  • Respect the customer’s time and ask useful, specific questions.
  • Make the surveys pleasant and easy to fill out; ideally, they should feel like a breath of fresh air instead of just one more boring chore.
  • Show them exactly how you’re using their feedback. Don’t just go through the motions of paying attention – make their feedback the basis of your decisions.

Remember, it is in your customer’s best interest to tell you what they need from you. But there’s a breakdown in communication due to pervasive survey fatigue, and it’s on you to bridge it.

What counts as a good response rate?

The average response rate for online surveys is 33%. Email surveys see lower response rates because many emails don’t even get opened. Hubspot has a good breakdown of email open rates by industry, the average is around 20-25%

If you need a benchmark for customer satisfaction survey response rates, 30% is a good place to start. But average response rates vary greatly by industry, delivery method, customer demographic, and so on.

What’s important is to increase response rates over time. Build positive customer relationships that will inspire people to trust you with their feedback. Rising response rates mean you’re doing something right; the more data you have, the more you’ll understand how best to ask for honest feedback.

Your Simplesat dashboard makes it easy to track response rates over time.

Practical ways to increase response rates

Although there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, our years of experience have given us an idea of what works and what doesn’t. We’d like to offer some specific tips to try if you’re unsatisfied with the amount of feedback you’re receiving at the moment.

1. Narrow your focus & personalize the survey

For CSAT questions, you want to ask about the customer’s most recent experience. Avoid generalizations! You don’t want the customer to overthink their response – that’s when their biases creep in.

If the question you’re posing to the customer is too abstract, they might assume that they’re not qualified to judge the response.

On the other hand, if the question feels impersonal, they have no motivation to respond.

With NPS surveys, your core question is always the same: will the customer recommend your company to others? But you get more responses if you make it easier for the customer to imagine actually doing so:

Simple personalization methods include using the customer’s name or specifics about their current purchase when you ask them to give you feedback.

But you should also use survey targeting & segmentation to make sure to distribute the right questions at the right time to the right customers.

For example, you can target new customers to ask about their first impressions, or approach more seasoned customers with questions about how their experience with your business changed over time. You could send out industry-specific feedback requests to a particular segment of your clients – “Does [our product] help with [specific activity]?”.

2. Respond quickly and share your wins

When a customer responds to your feedback, it’s on you to react. Remember, survey fatigue creeps in when a customer thinks they’re not being heard.

🙏 Responding to positive feedback is very important. Thank your customers for the input, ask them for reviews or testimonials. Feeling valued makes the customer likelier to respond again in the future.

🚨 Reach out directly to customers who left negative feedback. Closing the loop on problems means you:

  • Immediately look into the complaint
  • Clarify what the customer is struggling with
  • Find a solution
  • Reach out to the customer again and check if they’re satisfied

At Simplesat, we make a point of finding some kind of resolution to every problem expressed in negative survey responses. If there’s no immediate fix to be found, we look for workarounds or compromises.

If you do manage to resolve an issue, share your fix with the rest of your user base. Demonstrate through social media, newsletters, and other announcements that you are dedicated to continuous, feedback-based improvement.

3. Aesthetics are important

Your surveys need to look good on any device and in any browser.

Part of Simplesat’s mission is to provide eye-catching, dynamic survey designs that people won’t scroll past. We use animations to invite a few seconds’ pause – and that pause is frequently enough to convince customers to respond.

Another way to make your surveys seem more personal is to use customized, brand-specific visuals. This makes it more obvious that you put effort into the survey.

4. Avoid jargon

If response rates are consistently low, there’s a possibility that your questions contain too much technical language or industry-specific terms. This tends to be the case in CES (customer effort score) surveys in particular.

Remember, not all of your customers use these phrases with the same ease you do. Overuse of jargon can lead to confusion, frustration, and inaccuracy in responses – or more likely, the customer will simply click away.

If you have an international customer base, it’s even more important to keep your vocabulary and sentence structure clear.

5. Show that you respect their time

Your customer is likely overworked and overwhelmed. Structure your survey accordingly.

Tell the customer how long the survey will take.

Experience shows that you get better results if you tell the customer the survey will only take a minute (or a couple of minutes for multi-question surveys). You could also tell them how many questions to expect.

Experiment with different question scales

A two-scale survey is the simplest option, but its black-and-white nature can fail to capture the shades of gray that customers may be feeling in between “Everything is perfect” and “You’re the worst.”

Five options are standard for CSAT, CES and 5-star surveys.

One-click surveys are a useful tool…

A surefire way to increase survey responses is to let people rate you with a single click. You can embed surveys directly into your emails or your signature. Remind them how easy it is with a statement, such as “Rate us in one click!”.

… but they aren’t the only option

As a rule, shorter surveys get higher response rates. But they give you less actionable data. You need to find a balance between simplicity and usefulness.

With Simplesat, each rating click is saved automatically. This means that you still gather feedback even if respondents don’t complete your survey. So don’t shy away from multi-question surveys entirely, just keep them concise. And use multiple-choice questions to get better data – see examples below!

6. Use multiple-choice (multi-select) questions wisely

Whether you’re conducting a CSAT/CES, NPS, or 5-star rating survey, your first question asks the customer to rate you on a numerical scale. After that, you can ask the customer to go into detail in a comment box.

Open-ended questions are great because the customer can point out problems you’ve been overlooking. But customers are busy and don’t necessarily have the time to write full sentences about your services. There might be a language barrier in place too.

So you can help them by adding another follow-up question before the comment box. You want to learn why they chose the rating and present a few options to choose from.

🙋 Main question (CSAT or 5-star survey):

👍 Multiple-choice follow-up question if the response is positive:

💬 Follow-up question with a comment box:

👎 Multiple-choice follow-up question if the response is negative:

💬 Follow-up question with a comment box:

In the case of positive feedback, you’re getting hard numbers about what the customers’ priorities are. In case of a low score, you’re learning what you need to improve ASAP.

Even if the customer skips over the comment box question, you’re still getting important data about what to focus on.

🙋 Main question (NPS survey):

👀 Multiple-choice follow-up question:

💬 Follow-up question with a comment box:

The same 5 options (product, price, customer service, speed, and “other”) can be used in general CSAT, CES, NPS, or 5-star surveys. But you might want to offer different options in the case of more specific questions.

🙋 Main question (CSAT or 5-star survey):

👀 Multiple-choice follow-up question:

💬 Follow-up question with a comment box:

🙋 Main question (CES survey):

👀 Multiple-choice follow-up question:

💬 Follow-up question with a comment box:

7. Optimize your survey emails

While email is a great delivery method for customer satisfaction surveys, there’s a high chance of the customer scrolling past your message because they’re too busy to think about it. It’s on you to grab their attention and motivate them to complete the survey.

💡 Subject line ideas

  • Let Us Know How We’re Doing 🙂 Take Our Short Survey
  • Your ticket has been resolved – tell us how we did!
  • Your Opinion Matters! Fill Out Our Satisfaction Survey Now
  • Help Us Improve: Take Our Survey and Get a Discount!
  • Make Sure Your Voice Is Heard 📣 Annual Satisfaction Survey
  • Your feedback is important to us. How did we do on Ticket #12345?

As for the body of the email, you need to use clear and concise language. Always be specific about the purpose of the survey – customers appreciate having some context.

✨ Additional tips:

  • Use a tone that matches your brand. Making your email too informal can come across as presumptuous, but you also don’t want to sound cold.
  • Consider the recipient’s perspective. What do they care about, what do they want to know?
  • Put the survey close to the top of the email. Don’t make the customer scroll past a wall of text. Include CSAT questions in the existing notification email your customers get when you close or solve a ticket.
  • Piggyback off of emails you’re already sending (when possible). Embed CSAT surveys in the existing notification email your customers get when you close or solve a ticket. You could also add one-click surveys to employee email signatures.
  • If you’re offering an incentive for filling out the survey – such as discounts, gift cards, early access, etc. – now’s the time to mention it. We recommend including mentions of charitable donations (for every survey response, you’ll donate something to charity), as it helps your customers learn about your values.

8. Put thought into reminder emails

Simplesat lets you send automated reminders to customers who didn’t fill out your survey the first time you emailed them. This is definitely worth doing – your first email might have gone unnoticed in a busy inbox, or maybe the customer meant to respond to it but forgot.

However, you don’t want to come across as spamming the customer.

👍 It helps if the follow-up is slightly different than the original email.

  • Use a different subject line.
  • Try a different survey design (use more colors, for example).
  • Add another sentence explaining why feedback matters to you.

⚠️ Whatever you do, you must avoid guilt-tripping the customer.

  • Don’t reference your previous email.
  • Don’t make them jump any extra hoops before they can respond.

Be bold and experiment

The best information comes from direct experience, so make sure to distribute customer satisfaction surveys often, and use different types of questions and follow-ups. Change things up, paying close attention to feedback rates and feedback quality.

It takes a few months of careful experimentation to discover what customers are the most interested in discussing. Better questions will not only give you more survey data, they will also help you to build loyalty, as customers will see again and again that you care about their thoughts and priorities.

Remember, high feedback rates should never be your only goal. You want to truly understand what the customers are thinking, which means giving them better tools to express their opinions. Customer satisfaction feedback is one part of a bigger conversation you’re constantly having with your customer base.

🚨 Many businesses out there claim to treasure customer feedback, but then don’t respond or devalue the response. Don’t fall into that trap.

Customer surveys don't have to be boring

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