May 28, 2021


Min Read


Divya Kandwal

A champion’s guide to improving Response Rate

Response rate

What is response rate

how to improve response rate

What’s inside?

  • Factors that influence response rate
  • Why response rate is important for your business
  • How to improve response rate
  • Common mistakes that destroy response rate

Everyone in the customer feedback business knows how important response rate is. One of the questions a new client almost always asks is this-

What response rate can I expect?

The answer is- it depends. Survey response rates vary widely. Depending on industry, channel and type, they can range anywhere from 1% to 50%.

That’s an extremely broad range.

The response rate conundrum

Factors that influence response rate

Response rate is a good indicator of a company’s relationship with its customers. It’s indicative of how engaged your customers are with your brand. In some ways, it’s more important than the C-sat/NPS® score itself.

There are numerous factors that influence response rate.

1.      The amount of involvement/time spent on a purchase decision

If a customer has spent a fair amount of time researching, comparing and deliberating a purchase, the chances of them answering a feedback survey are relatively high.


High involvement purchase = high response rate

For products that involve big purchase decisions, response rates are usually higher. On the contrary, for products that are bought quickly without much thought, the response rates are low.

For instance, response rate of post-sale survey for a car is always higher than that for a pen.

2.      Type of interaction

Surveys sent after a personal interaction will have a higher response rate compared to an automated transaction.

In fact, customers are more likely to provide feedback if they had had an emotional, conversational human interaction.

For example, response rate for a survey after a transaction where a customer interacted with a bank agent will be higher than that with an ATM machine.

3.      Time of sending a survey

When you send a survey massively influences the response rate.

As a general rule of thumb, one should send a survey immediately after a customer has had an interaction with your company. The response rate will likely be higher when the customer vividly remembers the interaction.

This is one of the reason why transactional surveys have a higher response rate compared to relationship surveys.

However, there are many exceptions to this.

For instance, if you are an FMCG company, it’s best to wait a few days/weeks to let the customer completely experience the product.

On the other hand, for airline companies, sending transactional surveys immediately after deboarding will induce higher response rates.

4.      Respondents

In India, the literacy level of respondents also influences the response rate. From our own records, the response rate for an online commodity buying site was 1%. Contrarily, the response rate for Audi was 58%.

5.      The quality and design of the survey

The quality and design of the survey affects the competition rate more than the response rate. However, abandoning surveys mid-way also leads to a low response rate.

For a higher response rate, ensure that your surveys are short, quick and mobile-friendly.

Now that we have covered the factors that impact response rate, let’s move on the importance of a decent response rate.

What’s the deal with a good response rate?

Why is improving response rate important?

In most cases, response rate is more important than the actual NPS®/ C-Sat score. Therefore, it is crucial to improve response rate if one wants to improve their CX program.

Improving response rate is important because-

1.      High response rate corresponds to accurate insights

High response rate = more data = more accuracy of analysis

High volume of customer data leads to more granular, accurate and actionable insights.

2.      Capture feedback from passives

Usually, customers who give feedback are either extremely happy or angry. Passives are customers who have had a lukewarm interaction with your company. They are neither happy nor unsatisfied and therefore, have a tendency of not responding to surveys. However, one bad experience can turn passives into detractors.

If you don’t work towards improving your response rate, chances are you will never hear from them.

3.      Frontline employees can’t control the NPS® but they can improve the response rate

As a KPI, the NPS®/C-Sat score is often not under the control of the frontline. Rewarding them based on the score is futile and leads to untruthful behavior. The response rate is a much better KPI for frontline employees. Simply requesting the customers to answer a survey after the interaction can work wonders for improving the response rate.

How do you improve the response rate?

Improving the response rate isn’t that complicated. Some small but effective changes can quickly increase the response rate.

To improve the response rate-

1.      Send surveys at the right time

Making sure that you are sending surveys at the right time is extremely important. What the right time is depends on factors such as the type of survey, industry, and more.  

Usually, sending a survey immediately after an interaction elicits a good response rate. A customer is more likely to provide feedback when the transaction is still fresh in his mind.

2.      Make surveys small and quick

Time is money. No one wants to take a boring, lengthy survey for free. Which is why, incentivizing surveys usually works well in improving the response rate.

However, what’s more important is to keep the survey small. A lot of customers will willingly provide feedback if you promise them that it won’t take long.

As a side note, this is why our NPS® 2.0 survey works best. It features the NPS® question along with a comment box (that we use Numr Sense AI to analyze) and takes 20 seconds to complete.

More on that, here.

3.       Make your surveys personalized

Research shows that more that 70% of consumers expect personalized experiences from brands. Which means, brands need to provide hyper-personalized experience. From sales to marketing communication to feedback surveys, everything needs to be customized.

Personalized surveys only ask specific and relevant questions and have a better response rate than generic ones. They also improve the quality of feedback data and analysis.

4.       Follow up with respondents

Making your customers a part of the feedback process makes them more likely to respond the next time. This can be done by

·      Following up with them individually or

·      Sending a bulk newsletter about all the steps you’re taking based on their feedback.

Because they feel like they are being heard, it also increases customers’ trust in your brand.

5.        Leverage the frontline

Educate and instruct your frontline employees on asking customers to provide feedback. It’s surprising how many people will answer a survey because someone politely asked them to. However, make sure you don’t penalize them for the feedback/ score. That would be counter-productive to the entire exercise.

6.       Implement a response rate target for store managers

Using response rate as a KPI for the frontline will ensure that they work towards improving it.

Common mistakes that destroy response rate

If you want to improve your response rate, here are some common mistakes that one should avoid

1.      Sending out bulk surveys

Sending bulk emails (or SMS) completely destroys email sender reputation. To prevent your surveys from being tagged as spam, don’t send them in bulk. Be strategic.

2.      Sending surveys at the wrong time

Carefully plan when to send surveys for the best result.

3.      Not making surveys multi-lingual

Based on who your respondents are, sending multi-lingual surveys makes it easy for them to choose the language they are comfortable with.

Response rate is the backbone of an effective CX program. With feedback data, the entire program will fall short. The accuracy of analysis and quality of insights directly depend on a good response rate.

Improving response rate isn’t rocket science. Taking small steps can make a massive difference.

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