5 Best Practices for Effective Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Surveys

Customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys notoriously have a rather low participation rate. Most surveys fail to respect the customer’s time when required to hang on at the end of an interaction and then go through an unknown number of questions delivering no obvious benefit to the customer. Participation rates can diminish if you’re not incentivizing your customers to actively provide feedback. Asking someone to voluntarily spend some extra time on the phone, as an example, to answer a few questions isn’t always an effective approach because it doesn’t allow the customer to take the survey on their own time. Most of the time the only customers who want to voice their experience are those that are extremely satisfied or not satisfied at all. All of these variables have a significant impact on the participation rate and more importantly the span of different types of experiences. Let’s explore some ways to improve participation rates and capture a more broad variety of experiences.

1. Offer multiple channels for surveys

Offer customers surveys through post call surveys, email, chat, and most importantly through SMS/text. Focus on the delayed response channels (i.e. email and SMS/text) so customers can participate in the survey on their time when it’s most convenient for them as opposed to real-time surveys which are presented at a time that’s most convenient for the business. By respecting the customers time you have a greater chance of appealing to them and encouraging their participation. My airline of choice sends email surveys after an encounter with customer service and anytime I talk to my bank via chat massager the chat window ends by asking if I would be willing to take a survey and it has multiple survey deliver options there for me to select.

2. Minimize the number of questions

No one is interested in taking a quiz at the end of an interaction with a business and if you ask more than 3 questions you’re practically saying “please ignore our survey.” If you have multiple questions to ask use a survey tool that allows you to create multiple surveys that are randomly selected/presented to customers. This will ensure you get an adequate sample size for a variety of questions without bombarding each customer with multiple questions. If you’re able to slim your questions down to just one you will increase your chances of getting more customer to participate.

3. Offer an incentive for participation

Incentives are far from a new idea but applying them to customer surveys is not yet a wide spread practice. The incentives can be small in nature like a discount code for future purchases or even something as simple a free shipping (for retail operations). The most effective incentives I’ve seen are when a discount can be applied to the order/service that the customer is dealing with at the time of the survey. This essentially gives the customer immediate reward for simply giving their opinion. Also worth considering that the greater the incentive the higher the tolerance will be for multiple questions.

4. Provide follow up surveys

Not all surveys can or should be administered immediately after the interaction has taken place. If you offer a follow up survey via email or SMS/text it allows the customer to have fully experienced the entire offering either the purchased service or product to ensure they are better informed on the overall quality of service. These tend to make the make the most sense for operations where the “product” being purchases/used arrives after the interaction or is a travel experience, for example.

5. Be transparent with survey results and actions

Hopefully if you’re operation is administering customer surveys, some sort of action is being taken based on the results. The industry leaders in customer satisfaction surveys come with built in, in-depth analytics to ensure insights are easy to extract, understand, and act on. By sharing actions taken based on customer feedback it sends a message to your customers that their opinion is making a difference and it will encourage future participation. I know of one global retailer that posts their customer survey data on their website on a quarterly basis. This has additional benefits of encourage the business leaders, at all levels, to work hard for their customers and ensure the customer experience is a real priority.