Customer feedback is of excellent value for SaaS businesses, and customer surveys are an important way to collect it. Customer surveys emerged in the 1980s. Back in the time, they were a reliable source to collect feedback. The feedback was gathered via one-on-one interviews, paper surveys, and telephone interviews.
Now, cut to the year 2022, customer surveys are still a dependable way to collect customer feedback. A major change is in how the feedback is collected – online. Thanks to reputed platforms like SurveyMonkey, it has become extremely convenient to reach out to customers and collect their feedback.
However, SaaS teams handling Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) surveys say that the value of these surveys has diminished over the years – they do not carry the same value as they used to. Let us explore why.
This write-up will discuss –
- Top 6 reasons why surveys do not work as they used to before
- The impact of the low response rate of CSAT surveys
- Ways to boost your survey response rates
Top 6 reasons why surveys do not work as they used to before
Response rates to CSAT surveys reduced over the past few years. Here are the top reasons why –
1. Survey fatigue
In recent years, especially in the post-pandemic era, have lost the motivation to participate in assessments such as surveys. This lack of motivation, also called survey fatigue, has impacted the response rates on CSAT surveys. Surveys with too many questions, poorly structured responses, or irrelevant questions add to the fatigue.
One way to handle survey fatigue is by making the surveys short and to the point. Incentivising the respondents will also serve as a motivation for them to look past the fatigue.
2. Not A/B testing the time
Timing is an especially important role when reaching out to a customer and asking them to fill up a survey for you. A special focus must be given to the timing most suitable to the customer, based on their time zone. Not A/B testing the best time to send the survey email or link to the customer has a negative impact on the open rates. The customer will eventually forget about it.
To overcome this, use customer data and identify the most suitable time for the customers. For instance, when targeting customers, the users from the USA, pick the time considering the state they are from.
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3. Boring subject lines
Emails are the most common way companies send their CSAT surveys! And most people tend to ignore emails with boring or unclear subject lines. Thus, sending survey emails with a boring subject line impacts the opening rate. This ultimately impacts the response rates.
When writing the subject line, ensure that you induce interest and the feeling of missing out. Talking about the incentive in the subject line is also a promising idea.
4. Not personalizing the survey
Personalize! This is the magic word customers look for in every aspect of their customer journey – it is the key to achieving success in the digital era. However, people tend to forget this key rule when it comes to customer surveys. Customers often abandon surveys that are not personalized or have questions that are irrelevant to them.
Make sure you do not send the same survey to all your customers – if you are a SaaS business, then you should note this. From using their names on the survey forms to making the questions relevant to them, they make the most of personalization.
5. They are not given the option to skip questions
Your customers would want to feel empowered throughout their customer journey. This also applies to surveys. They do not wish to sit through a long survey that mandates them to answer each and every question. Lengthy surveys and the inflexibility to skip certain questions lead to frustrations and abandonment.
To address this issue, you must give them the option to skip questions when they want to.
6. Targeting the wrong people
Another common reason for a low survey response rate is targeting the wrong audience. Sending the survey to the wrong target group is a classic way to earn customers’ frustration. This might also trigger them to think your product/ company is irrelevant to them.
Make sure that you are targeting the right customers for the survey. Pick the targets based on the type of input you seek. For instance, if you need feedback on the product, you should be targeting the end-users.
We have discussed the top 6 reasons why surveys do not work/ have low response rates. Let us now discuss the impact of the low response rate of CSAT surveys.
The impact of the low response rate of CSAT surveys
The response rate is the number of people who have responded to the survey. The response rate is calculated by dividing the total number of respondents by the number of people who received the survey (the total sample). The response rate validates the accuracy of the collected data.
For starters, low response rates narrower the sample size. Therefore, you cannot be entirely sure about the accuracy of the data collected.
A low response rate also means that the selected sample group is uninterested. This lack of interest could result from dissatisfaction during their customer journey. It could also be because of their lack of motivation to participate in a survey. So you will have to work on steps to draw your customers to participate in the survey. One effective way to do so is to give them some incentive to take part in the survey.
Low response rates on your survey could also indicate nonresponse bias. Nonresponse bias is when the data collected does not include the opinions of the people who have not participated in the survey.
Considering the impacts of low response rates on your survey, you must focus on strategies to boost them. A boost in the response rates will also help make the surveys more efficient than before.
Here are a few ways to boost your survey response rates
1. Keep the survey short
There is no denying that nobody has the time to sit and respond to a long survey, especially when they are not getting anything in return. Considering this, keep your CSAT survey short is a good practice. Ideally, a respondent should be able to complete the survey in 5 minutes or less.
You should not deviate from the survey’s focus when aiming to keep it short. Make sure that the questions in the survey are crisp, clear, highly relevant, and focused.
2. Make sure that the questions are simple and clear
Using complicated jargon is a big no and can drive away your participants. Using simple, easy-to-understand language that does not consume a lot of the respondent’s time is important.
At the same time, make sure that you expand the acronyms used. For instance, instead of just asking, “How will you rate our CX from 1 to 10?”, ask, “How will you rate our Customer Experience (CX) from 1 to 10”?
Another pointer would be to use an active voice to draft the questions. This will make the questions clear to the point and easy to understand.
3. Go multi-channel
People have been using emails to send CSAT surveys for the longest time. While sending the survey over an email is a dependable approach, adopting a multi-channel approach is proven to boost response rates. Use customer data to understand the most appropriate channel to reach your target audience and send your survey on that channel. For instance, you can reach out to a customer through social media or have an in-app survey.
When using a multi-channel approach, ensure the survey is optimized for mobile screens.
4. Play with the response formats
When we say survey, most of us assume a multiple-choice format. But that might not always be a favorable idea. Play with the formats like rating scales, multiple checkboxes, or blanks for the respondents to fill in.
Including different formats is convenient and engaging. At the same time, you will be able to understand the response patterns better.
For the respondents, closed-ended questions do not take a lot of time. For the organizers, it is easier to analyze the results. The responses could be yes/no, multiple choice, or rating scales for closed-ended questions.
5. Use incentives
Incentivising customers to participate in the customer response survey is a proven way to boost survey response rates. However, ensure that the incentive motivates the customers to participate in the survey and does not influence their response. The data collected would be biased if the incentive motivates them to give a particular option.
6. Send a reminder
You may have prepared a great survey that ticks all the boxes – the questions are short and focused, targeted the right audience, and even added a small incentive. You have sent it to your customers but have not heard back from them. What could have gone wrong? You might be wondering… well, there are good chances that your customer has missed the notification or has forgotten about it.
In such cases, your course of action will be to send reminders. You can send them around two reminders asking them to participate in the survey. There are fair chances for you to end up in spam if you overdo the reminders. So make sure that you have a balanced approach. Make sure to use fun and refreshed language instead of repeating the original.
7. Act on the feedback received
Most SaaS companies make aggressive efforts to collect feedback from their customers. But they are not as aggressive when it comes to acting on the feedback collected. This is quite off-putting to the customers. When a customer takes time to respond to your CSAT survey, they are trying to tell you about their experience. They expect you to improve or solve issues. But if you do not act on the feedback, they do not feel appreciated and will eventually stop giving feedback. It causes low response rates in CSAT surveys.
The best way to show your customers that you care about them is by acting on their feedback. It will also serve as a motivation to participate in your upcoming surveys.
An even better way would be to share survey statistics and possible steps that you intend to take. This will make them feel valued and strengthen your relations.
Indeed, customer surveys do not work like they used to – and we have already discussed why. You can make them work like they used to, or even better, by avoiding the mistakes we have mentioned.
At the same time, following the measures we have suggested will boost the response rates on your CSAT surveys. 44
Snigdha Jena is a customer success manager at SmartKarrot. She has been active in the customer success and SaaS space for a while now. She has worked with Quant LegalTech, Intuit, and RepRecom solutions in various capacities.
Published August 08, 2022, Updated March 01, 2023