No longer is feedback something that is penciled-in quietly on a postcard and then forgotten. Customers today leave feedback with the expectation that it is the start of a conversation and that it will be met in a personal way. Technology has dramatically evolved the delivery mechanisms for customer satisfaction surveys, making them cheaper to administer and easier for guests to complete wherever they might be.

In spite of this evolution, one thing that remains true is that most businesses still send out satisfaction surveys only at the end of the customer’s experience. Another thing that hasn’t changed is that we still see a lot of businesses sending out customer surveys with 20+ questions. When response rates are hovering around 1-3% you have to ask, ‘am I going about this the right way?’

There are so many ways to collect guest feedback now. Optimization could be as simple as zeroing in on one key question to ask at the most critical time, improving the meaningfulness of the rating scale used, or delivering value back to the customer in the form of improved service – before they leave.

Here’s some food for thought on the status of customer satisfaction surveys today.

  1. A typical business hears from just 4% of its dissatisfied customers. How much in lost business and reputation damage are those other customers causing your business?
  2. The key to building promoters is through customer engagement. A 10% increase in engagement can potentially result in 4% increase in customer intent to recommend.
  3. Online surveys generate better response rates than paper surveys. Delivery of online surveys can be timed for when customer is most likely to respond; they don’t get lost, and  they usually require less effort for the customer to complete.
  4. Incentives drastically improve response rates. For small businesses, values of $10-$50 are optimal. Larger businesses don’t usually need as high a response rate to gain a representative sample.
  5. Surveys sent between 1pm – 4pm receive the best response rates. Times when you know your customers are going to be socially occupied – such as during dinner – are usually the worst times to send surveys.
  6. Online delivery methods for surveys result in lower dropout rates and more complete responses. This points back to the ease of clicking a button over writing. An online interface also gives the customer a feeling of progression which can be a motivation for completion.
  7. Satisfaction surveys are more likely to be filled out by women. While all customers will appreciate improvements to service, it’s worth understanding who your vocal customers are and who the silent detractors are.