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Gainsight Inc.

Reasons for Low Survey Response Rate

Survey feedback is important for keeping a pulse on customer sentiment and addressing customer concerns. But in order to act on that feedback, it first needs to be collected. This article discusses common issues that can result in a low survey response rate, as well as potential methods for addressing them.

Lack of Personality

Most survey recipients are probably savvy enough to realize that any of their individual information within an email, such as their name or their company name, has been filled out as part of an automated process. But it still impacts whether or not they will respond. People like seeing their own name, and it’s important to construct your surveys to be as personable as possible. 

Likewise, send surveys from an individual’s email address that the recipient is likely to recognize. Remember that your recipients could be receiving a slew of emails from addresses they are unfamiliar with. For these reasons, we strongly recommend against sending your survey from a “no reply” email address.

To help personalize your emails, Gainsight email templates offer the ability to add tokens that will  auto-populate with a contact’s information. To learn more about adding and editing these tokens, see the article Create Journey Orchestrator Email Templates.

Poorly Crafted Subject Lines

Your participants will read the subject line before they even consider opening your email or taking your survey. On certain devices, this might be the only content of the email they can see without opening it. A subject line should make a good first impression, be informative, and persuasive. 

An email subject line like, “Wayne Enterprises Survey” may not capture the reader’s attention. Recipients are more likely to respond if they have a better idea of the time commitment they are about to make, how this benefits them, and if they have a clear call to action. A more engaging subject line could be, “Improve your Wayne Enterprises experience by taking this 30 second survey!”

Survey Fatigue

Almost no one wants to take a long survey with numerous questions. Surveys with too many questions or poorly constructed answer options will likely result in your user quitting the survey part way through, and they will be less inclined to answer future surveys. When constructing your survey, focus on the BIG questions. Ask yourself, “Do we really need this question answered?” or, “Do we plan on taking action based on the responses to this question?” If the answer to either of those questions is “No,” then the item can be removed from your survey.

For NPS® surveys, focusing on THE big question is key. By only including this question, you can honestly tell your users that they can get in and out of your survey in under 30 seconds, making it more likely they will respond. You can offer an open-ended follow-up question to collect more feedback.

After feedback is collected, Gainsight has additional tools to analyze NPS® responses, including the text responses from the open-ended question. To learn more about this feature, see the article How NPS® Text Analytics Works.

If you’re still worried about participant drop-off while they are taking a survey, Gainsight has the ability to partially save survey responses every 5 seconds while a user takes a survey. Participants will also have the option to return to a partially completed survey and finish it at a later time. To learn more about this feature, see the description for the field Partial Completion under the Survey Properties section of the article Configure Survey Properties.

Survey fatigue can also result from surveys being sent too frequently to users. As a general rule, don’t send “Relationship” surveys (such as NPS®) more than twice a year. “Transactional” surveys, which are typically sent after a training, onboarding, or support engagement, can be sent as needed as long as your users aren’t being bombarded. It’s a good idea to coordinate with other departments, such as Marketing, Product or Services, to ensure that you are not sending out surveys too closely together, particularly if you are not using a shared calendar for outreaches.

The Gainsight feature Programs provides support for controlling how often a contact receives a survey through an automated process. You can read more about these tools by checking the criteria section of the document Adding Participants to a Program. This feature will also help with additional issues discussed later in this article. For detailed instructions on how to use the Programs feature, see How to Configure Programs (Path)

Poor Survey Timing

Finding the right time to send the survey is also key for guaranteeing a response from your users. This can vary by industry, but in general this typically aligns best with the onboarding stage of your customer lifecycle.

It’s also wise to avoid sending a survey on either a Monday, Friday, or near a holiday. Your recipient is likely more distracted during those days, either by the work they need to accomplish, or by how they plan to spend their time off.

Outreaches and Programs give Gainsight users tools for dynamically adding survey participants, which can better help you align your survey with your customer lifecycle. Adding participants to an Outreach is covered within the article Create Journey Orchestrator Power Lists (aka, email contact list). Adding participants to a Program is covered specifically in Adding Participants to a Program

Selecting the Wrong Recipient

It’s important to consider who you want responding to your survey, and to take steps to make sure they are added as a participant. Depending on the feedback you’re looking for, you may wish to send surveys to specific points of contact, end users, or decision makers within the company.

Rotating who is receiving surveys within a company is also ideal. This helps prevent survey fatigue, as described earlier, but also gives you the chance to collect a variety of feedback from your customers.

Journey Orchestrator Power Lists in Gainsight are designed to help narrow the target audience for a survey. They are lists of contacts constructed with selected criteria. Part of this criteria can be the contact’s role, to make sure you are selecting the type of contact for the feedback you are looking for. Additionally, you can select criteria to pull in contacts that are currently part of a specific stage of the customer lifecycle to better align the timing of your survey, as described earlier. To learn more about Power Lists, see the article Create Journey Orchestrator Power Lists (aka, email contact list).

Contacts can only be selected as part of a Power List if they are contacts in Gainsight. But you can also add contacts as part of a CSV which will be imported into your database. This feature works regardless of whether the contact’s information is currently in Gainsight, and is ideal for sending a survey to a group who participated in a specific event, such as a webinar. To learn more about creating Power Lists from a CSV, see the article Create Power List from a CSV file.

Forgotten Surveys

It sounds simple enough, but sending a reminder email will keep your users thinking about your survey and will increase the likelihood of them responding.

Sending your recipients a “heads-up” message directly from the CSM before you send out the survey is also a great way to keep it in the thoughts of your users. It also makes the request more personal, which will help draw out more responses.

Gainsight has prebuilt methods for sending “heads-up” and reminder emails as part of a Program. To learn more, see the article Available Models for Program

Users Discouraged from Giving Feedback

While it is important to send your survey from a source that your user knows and trusts, it is additionally important to send the survey from someone who isn’t the user’s direct point-of-contact. Users may be less likely to give honest feedback to their direct point-of-contact and they may be more willing to give complete answers to someone they interact with less often. 

With Journey Orchestrator Outreaches and  Programs, you can control who is listed as the survey sender when you configure the survey email. You can learn more about this process in the article Configure Model and Emails for Program.

Lack of Incentive

Users are more likely to participate if they have additional encouragement. Consider offering a donation to a charity for every response.

Lack of Closure

After your user takes the survey, closing the loop will let the user know that you’ve successfully received their feedback. It’s best to do this by sending a “thank you” email so they know you appreciate their time and answers. You might also choose to thank them through a phone call. Regardless, each respondent should be thanked in some way. This makes it more likely that they will respond to future surveys.

Program Models contain pre-built options for sending “thank you” emails, as well as escalation emails (which you can send to a user’s CSM) in case the user does not respond to the survey. 

For more personal, customized outreaches, you can also use the Email Assist feature within Cockpit. To learn more about this feature, see the article Send Email Tasks from Cockpit (aka, Email Assist).

Apply Feedback

Customers want to know their voices are being heard when they fill out surveys. Doing your best to apply their feedback, and showing them changes are being made, will increase the chances of users responding to future surveys.

Make these plans visible, after a survey is closed send a message to all customers, regardless of how or if they responded, telling them what you’ve done with the feedback or what you plan to do. This message can contain key take-aways, or a high level overview, as long as what’s communicated is clear and accurate.

NPS, Net Promoter, and Net Promoter Score are registered trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company and Fred Reichheld
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