Written by


Low customer survey response rates are a kick in the teeth. When you send out customer feedback surveys, you want to be getting responses from the majority of your customers.

Seriously, think about it… what’s the point in doing customer surveys if nobody responds?

It’s like waiting for a bus that you know is never going to come.

At Client Heartbeat, I strive to help all our customers receive survey response rates over 65%. Some of our clients get response rates of up to 94% – MASSIVE!

But, there are circumstances where survey response rates are low, and that’s where this guide comes into play. If you aren’t getting response rates of at least 65%, I know you’re making some of these common mistakes.

In this resource, I want to help you better understand why your customer survey responses might be low, and provide you with some quick and actionable solutions to help you get those response rates up above 65% (like the majority of our customers).

Here’s a quick look at the six common reasons:

  • You are not sending the surveys to the right contacts.
  • You are not integrating customer surveys into your business processes.
  • You are not following up correctly.
  • You are not asking the right questions.
  • You are not sending surveys at the right time.
  • Your emails are getting caught in spam filters (rare).

Reason 1: You are not sending the surveys to the right contacts.

The most common reason why you are receiving below-average survey response rates is because you are sending your customer feedback surveys to the wrong contacts. It is important to make sure the contact you have inside Client Heartbeat is the primary point of contact you have for the company. He or she must be the one you have the most contact with and the one who makes the decisions.

For companies that struggle to determine who their best contact is, try following these general rules:

  • Receptionists are often not the decision makers or key contacts; make sure you keep them off the list.
  • The CEO or Director may seem like the best person, but oftentimes he has delegated customer service to another manager.
  • If you’ve got a couple of people you have regular contact with, feel free to add them both.
  • If you have no idea who you should send the heartbeat out to, just call them. Explain that you are looking to monitor and improve satisfaction levels and ask for the best person you should send the quarterly/semi-annual survey to.

Let’s take a look at a practical example. You have one company with two contacts in your system: Gary the Customer Operation Manager, and Janet the receptionist.

Who do you send your heartbeat to?

Send it to Gary, because he is your primary contact that you deal with… Janet simply does the admin stuff.

Reason 2: You are not integrating customer surveys into your business processes.

Another common reason that comes up a lot is the lack of integration into your business and operation processes. This is usually the second question I ask when following up with specific customers who have been flagged as low response rate.

It is super important to integrate Client Heartbeat into your business. Gordon recommends telling customers right at the start of your sales cycle that you do quarterly surveys and they are compulsory.

Read this: How to Integrate Client Heartbeat into your Business

For existing customers who are new to Client Heartbeat, I recommend sending them a quick note or giving them a quick call, or just notifying them next time they lodge a job. Just let them know it’s something you are implementing to help them and help improve customer satisfaction.

In all cases, customers are going to be happy to hear that you care. You care about them and the level of service you are providing.

By giving customers a heads-up, this really helps to drive up survey response rates. Since they are aware of what it is, there is no confusion about whether it is unsolicited spam or something that’s not relevant.

I find companies who integrate Client Heartbeat right from the get-go tend to receive response rates of 5-10% better than those who send the surveys out cold turkey.

A great example happened just last week when I was speaking to one of our customers. They had been sending out their customer surveys cold turkey. They were sent from their operations manager, who had just started her role, so none of the clients knew who she was.

When the clients received the email, some thought it was spam and called up to let them know, while others just ignored it because it wasn’t from anyone they knew or trusted. This resulted in below-average survey response rates after the first week of the survey.

After a couple of calls and by the second reminder, response rates started to rise, but still not as high as I would have liked.

So remember, try integrating Client Heartbeat into your business operations right from the start, so all your customers know exactly what it is, and why you are doing it.

Reason 3: You are not following up correctly.

Picture this: you submit an inquiry for a free demo of Client Heartbeat. I send you an email with some good times to meet, and don’t receive a response.

You can bet I’d want to send you a follow-up email.

The same goes for customer surveys. You need to follow up with your customers.

In a world where we are all living on instant gratification, have so many event reminders and invite requests, you’re bound to miss the odd email. This is why I recommend following up.

The Client Heartbeat system sends automated seven- and 14-day follow ups, but I also recommend calling your customers who haven’t responded after that last automated email.

Oftentimes, your customers are busy, so by calling them and informing them why you are doing customer surveys, that’s enough to get them motivated to fill it out.

Reason 4: You are not asking the right questions.

This doesn’t happen too often, because the majority of our customers use the crowd-sourced recommendation questions related to their industries.

The reason why we recommend certain questions is because we’ve done research into what questions bring about the best responses that can give you the most actionable customer feedback.

Even so, customers can select their own customer questions. What you do need to keep in mind is to make sure the questions are easy to understand and relevant.

If the questions are long-winded and too wordy, that can affect response rates. If the questions are totally non-relevant, that can confuse your customer and also affect response rates.

If you’re noticing below-average survey response rates, double check the questions you are asking. Remember, our customer support is always available to answer any questions and help you determine whether the questions you are asking should be changed.

Reason 5: You are not sending surveys at the right time.

This reason is one that’s always up for discussion.

“When is the best time to send my customer feedback surveys?”

That’s a question I get asked all the time. So… I wanted to elaborate on what some research has found about email open and click rates, in relation to time of email.

A MailChimp case study found that email open rates are most active during 2pm and 5pm, with Tuesdays and Thursdays being the busiest in terms of email volume. The study recommended avoiding sending emails on weekends.

From some little tests I’ve run, I like sending customer surveys out at 2pm on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Why…? Because at 2pm, I find people tend to have powered through their morning to-do lists, cleared their email and basically have a lot less going on. Thus, by popping your email in at that time, you should get a pretty easy ride straight to the top of the inbox.

Remember, this is just one case study and some feedback from what I have experienced.

I’ve also tried sending out emails at 8:45am (just before people get started with their day) and had a lot of success.

All in all, the best recommendations I can make with email send times is just don’t send on weekends and don’t send at weird hours of the day. That way you’re giving yourself the best opportunity to reach your customers while they are in an environment they are confortable in – their workplace.

Reason 6: Your emails are getting caught in spam filters (rare).

This is pretty rare, but it’s something that occasionally comes up with our customers.

From our end, Client Heartbeat uses SendGrid to handle all our emails and prevent your emails from getting caught up in spam.

SendGrid provides the industry’s leading cloud-based email delivery platform, delivering billions of emails every month for small, mid-sized, and large enterprise customers.

For some more help on this, I recommend this resource from SendGrid: SendGrid Deliverability Guide.

This guide provides an in-depth look at email deliverability and gives outstanding advice on how to stop your emails from being flagged as spam.

If you’re having trouble with emails being flagged as spam, David Lumley, our technical lead engineer, recommends making sure you are not using any of these common spam words in your email or subject title.

If that’s not the case, contact us and with your approval, our team will contact a group of your customers and speak with their IT departments to identify the cause of the issue.

Don’t settle for poor survey response rates.

Poor survey response rates can give you inaccurate customer feedback that may lead to poor business decisions. It’s important to make sure you are receiving survey response rates of above 65%.

If you implement these recommendations and avoid making these common mistakes, you can help improve your survey response rates and start getting more accurate customer feedback.

Use this feedback to identify unhappy customers and stop them from cancelling before they have one foot out the door.

Sign up now and try our customer satisfaction tool free for 21 days. No contract and no commitment!

21 Day Free Trial