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Tips for Minimizing Survey Non-Responders

How to convey to customers that you value their feedback.

A customer’s refusal to respond to customer satisfaction and Net Promoter Score® (NPS) surveys can baffle business leaders. After all, we do everything we can to ensure a remarkable customer experience only to see a (hopefully small) percentage of contacts not complete the survey. In a perfect world, 100 percent of our customers would respond to our surveys. Unfortunately, there will always be people who are unwilling to share their opinions for one reason or another. The key is to ascertain the real reasons why customers aren’t voicing their views and take the appropriate action to encourage participation.

Oftentimes, the most telling response is no response. Whether justified or not, the people who do not provide feedback do so for a number of reasons. Some simply may be apathetic while others:

  • Are unhappy with relationship.
  • Don’t feel a vested interest.
  • Think no one is really listening.
  • Suffer from “survey fatigue.”
  • Have seen no evidence of improvement.
  • Prefer to talk directly with leadership.

Still, these common survey objections shouldn’t be a deterrent in your feedback endeavors. Sometimes all it takes is a little prodding to persuade customers to respond. So go ahead and initiate another conversation with any non-responders. Make a personal phone call or send a friendly email to verify their satisfaction and understand their sentiment.

Increasing Survey Participation

Another way to decrease the number of non-responders is to get them to care about providing feedback by strengthening the relationship. This can be accomplished by communicating regularly that you (a) are listening, (b) are focused on their satisfaction, and (c) are committed to taking action. Alternatively, if you ignore non-responders you risk further solidifying the feelings mentioned above.

Also, failing to perform the necessary follow-up and post-survey work creates a negative perception about the exercise and contributes to low response rates. To further establish confidence and encourage continuous survey participation I also suggest you:

  1. Tell customers, on a regular basis, how important this initiative is to your company.
  2. Explain how their feedback will be used to influence their experience.
  3. Provide evidence (when available) on the ways you are using customer insight to inform process improvement initiatives.

Don’t Overlook Closing the Loop

Finally, it’s important to recognize that there are a greater number of companies seeking customer feedback these days. This has led customers to prioritize which surveys they will complete. If customers believe their input will have a positive impact on their experience they will be more likely to respond to your surveys.