We recently worked with a client that had an unusually low response rate for their Relationship Survey. The survey wasn’t terribly long and there was minimal drop-off once someone began the survey.  So, we were stumped as to why we were only seeing a 2% response rate.

After digging a little deeper, we found that many of the potential respondents had never even opened the email invitation. When they did, the rate of participation was high (40+%). This suggested to us that there may be an engagement issue.  So, in addition to some folks that were simply “X-ing out”, many other were apparently deleting the email altogether.

This got me thinking about non-responders in general and the fact there’s so much treasure hidden in the feedback we never receive.  How can we minimize this?

In a perfect world, 100% of our customers would respond to our surveys. Unfortunately, there will always be people who are unwilling to share their opinions for one reason or another. The key is to determine the real reasons why customers aren’t voicing their views and take the appropriate action to encourage participation.

Sometimes, the most telling response is no response at all. And, the people that do not provide feedback may do so for any number of reasons – among them they:

  • Are unhappy with relationship
  • Don’t feel a vested interest
  • Think no one is really listening
  • Suffer from “survey fatigue”
  • Have seen no evidence of improvement
  • Prefer to give feedback in-person

Given all the possible reasons, we need to ensure that we are engaging our customers regularly and letting them know we are listening to them, that we care about them and their satisfaction with our products and services, and that we are committed to act when things go awry.

Now assuming we’ve already designed a great survey, asking the right questions to the right people at the right time, what else can we do to help minimize non-response?

For those that respond:

  • Thank those that participated to help ensure future participation.
  • Follow up with customers on any issues they shared with you.

For those that did not respond:

  • Have customer facing teams (sales/services) proactively reach out and encourage participation. Let your customers know you care and want them to have a voice.  Let them know you are listening and committed to acting.
  • Consider developing a quarterly CX Newsletter that you can send to your customers. This will provide regular communication on customer feedback and encourage future participation.
  • Consider providing different methods for your customers to provide feedback. Perhaps add a link to a survey on your website or maybe telephone surveys would be preferred by your audience.

Ultimately, non-responses can be due to any number of factors as outlined above.  However, we need to continue to find new and innovative ways to get customers to provide their feedback.  We can only improve what we can measure.  With that in mind, please feel free to share anything you’ve had success with in your organization to minimize non-responses or any other ideas you may have to help increase participation and find the hidden treasure we need to improve the customer experience.

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