Survey Health Is Everything. The Success of Your VoC Program (And Probably Your Job) Depends on It.

Customer Experience Measurement | Listen or Die | Survey Design

Reading time: 5 minutes

Today, I am going to focus on a very important topic – survey health.

Let’s start with the obvious… if survey health is poor, nothing else you do with your VoC program will matter.

The quality of your questions won’t matter, the beauty of your dashboards won’t matter, and your case management workflow won’t matter either.

So what is a healthy survey?

It all begins with response rates. In other words, how many completed surveys are you obtaining compared to the number of survey invitations sent?

A healthy transactional B2C survey will have a response rate of at least 5%; at PeopleMetrics, our range is 5% to 18% for B2C.

Pilot studies help a lot with this — in fact, the likelihood of a healthy survey is much higher when you’ve done a pilot first.

For B2B, we see response rates as high as 50%.

Watch the clock...

A good transactional VoC survey can be completed in a short amount of time.

If providing feedback takes longer than the actual customer experience, you have a major problem!

So, if you’re measuring a customer experience that normally lasts three minutes using a survey that takes ten minutes, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

Keep in mind that if a customer had a problem, response times will be increased. When there is a problem, companies need more clarity so they can figure out how to fix it, and this requires more questions.

In any event, transactional VoC surveys should be no more than three to five minutes under any circumstances.

What else can you do to increase response rates?

Here are a few tips for increasing response rates:

  1. Transactional VoC surveys should also be compatible with mobile devices, allowing respondents to answer the survey anywhere.

  2. Survey questions cannot be redundant or confusing. They should be crisp, clear, and mutually exclusive.

  3. Survey answers should elicit information that you specifically need from the customer without confusing them.

  4. Avoid asking the customer a double-barreled question that covers two things at once, such as:

    “Please tell us about your experience when you checked in and visited our restaurant.”

  5. Avoid using long-winded questions like:

    “We first want to ask you about the check-in experience during your most recent stay with us. Check-in is very important to us, and we pride ourselves on a good experience. Could you please tell us, in your own words, about your check-in experience?”

    Most customers will not even read this, let alone answer it.


Everything else—the touchpoints, the dashboards, the training, the follow-up process—depends on the health of the survey.

The effort is worth it!

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About the Author

Sean McDade, PhD is the author of Listen or Die: 40 Lessons That Turn Customer Feedback Into Gold. He founded PeopleMetrics in 2001 and is the architect of the company’s customer experience management (CEM) software platform. As CEO, he guides the company’s vision and strategy. Sean has over 20 years of experience helping companies measure and improve the customer experience. Earlier in his career, he spent five years at the Gallup Organization, where he was the practice leader of their consulting division. His company offers CEM software with advanced machine learning solutions and hands-on analytical support to help companies make sense of their CX data. Sean holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration with a specialization in marketing science from Temple University in Philadelphia. He has published eight articles in peer-reviewed scholarly journals and has taught over 25 marketing classes. Sean was named a 40 under 40 award recipient of the Philadelphia region. He is an active Angel Investor, including investments in Tender Greens, CloudMine and Sidecar.

Posted on 10-29-2019