The 3 Biggest Reasons Customer Satisfaction Surveys Fail and How to Fix Them

Customer satisfaction surveys don’t always work.  Perhaps you have firsthand experience with a survey failing and looking back, still don’t know why.  But rest assured, you are not alone.  We run into many people that have done surveys before and been unsatisfied with their results.  They feel like they did all of the right things.  Many have:

  • Spent a ton of time crafting specific questions based on what they wanted to know about their clients/prospects.
    • They may have searched Google to find ‘expert’ survey questions.
    • They may have used a research firm or consultant to help them create their questions.
  • Used cutting edge technology to create and send the survey.

But something was obviously missing because after the survey results came back, they were left feeling like all of their effort/time/resources were wasted.  What happened?

In our experience, there are 3 major reasons surveys fail.  Typically the sender:

  • Didn’t have a significant number of people respond.
  • Had people respond but didn’t get the information they hoped for.
  • Received great data but didn’t know how to create actionable steps from it.

With each of these issues, there are many variables that could have caused their survey to fail.  Today, we will pull back the curtain on some of the most common.

Reason 1 – Survey Response Rate Was Low

If your survey went out by email (this is what we see most often), typically there are 4 areas to analyze for issues.

  • The subject line for your mailing.
  • The number of messages sent.
  • The motivation you provide for people to respond (the email’s content).
  • The technology you used to send out the customer satisfaction survey.

Subject line:

Often the most unloved, yet powerful portion of an email communication is the subject line.  You simply must spend time on it.  And if your mailing list is large enough; 5,000 recipients or so, you MUST use split testing on the subject line.  We’ve seen open rates increase by more than 50% based entirely on changing a few words in the subject line.  Imagine how many more of your surveys will be taken when 50% more people open the mailing?

# of Messages Sent

The average professional receives about 100 emails per day – how easy is it for them to miss your message (even if they are interested in looking at it)?  When it comes to sending out a survey via email, a single send will never do.  A second reminder email should always be sent several days later to the people who have not filled it out.  This will dramatically increase your recipient’s likelihood of seeing and engaging with your email.


Providing substantial motivation with your email’s content is paramount to a good response rate.  Make sure survey recipients realize how valuable their feedback is and how it will help your company become an even better resource for them.  Let them know that you will follow up with them (BUT ONLY if you truly will) if they have questions or concerns.  Always, always, always use a nice looking Call to Action button on your email, coded in HTML (don’t use an image).  A larger button is better to use since so many people will likely be opening it on their phone.  Speaking of which…


The technology you use for sending out the survey must be mobile friendly.  That
means from the email to the form on the website, everything needs to look nice on a phone and not require constant zooming.  You will lose an enormous number of survey-
takers if this aspect of your technology falls flat.  Our analytics show that nearly 40% of people are now using mobile devices to take our client’s surveys but here is the kicker – for some of those clients, the numbers are near 80%!  Imagine if our clients’ emails or surveys weren’t mobile friendly – they would lose a ton of people from the emails to the surveys.  Thankfully all of our clients are mobile optimized out the gate.  If your survey tool doesn’t provide this for free – you may want to consider looking for a new survey tool.

Part 2 of this series is available here and part 3 will be made available the next week.  Please be sure to follow along.  If you have any questions or would like to learn more about CustomerCount, please contact us today.  

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