Why Most Companies Fail at Gathering Actionable Feedback through Surveys and How to Increase the Response Rate

LarryWritten by LarrySep 05, 2017

The contact with the customers is essential for each company that acts on the competitive free market. This contact drives future company policies, product changes and attracts larger profits. Customer feedback is also the primary indicator which gives direction to marketing campaigns and drives most major changes in the career path of a company.



Customer feedback is one of the main-focus points of any company, from the large multinationals to the local, neighborhood-friendly firms. Despite this fact, some customer relation policies and surveys are not successful when it comes to gathering meaningful feedback.

Some companies fail at gathering actionable feedback because of some limitations. The survey as a sociological data-gathering method has its own limitations. It collects data at a single point in time. As most companies use the survey irregularly to study the customer market due to the high cost, it is impossible to discover a trend.  

A second inherent limitation of the survey is that it entangles together a bundle of factors and opinions that can vary depending on circumstances and temporality. Nowadays, surveys are done either through the phone or online because the intended purpose of a survey is to reach a representative sample of the population. Without it, the results are at questionable and cannot be applied at the level of the entire population.


While phone surveys are limited by the inattentiveness of the respondent, online surveys receive a limited response and without the interview, the respondent cannot be probed further.

Another problem that might come up for companies looking to collect data through surveys is the way in which the survey itself is constructed. A good survey should be purpose-oriented, should provide a proper question order in order to construct a logical pattern in the respondent’s mind.

The way in which a question is asked is also essential. At the start, the interviewers should offer survey rewards for completion. This will enhance the overall view of the respondent for the process and make him or her more likely to provide useful information. This way the survey will appear to be taken out of the individual’s own volition.

Question formatting is also important. Questions should gradually increase in intensity and relevance, from general to particular. A good survey does not immediately jump to its main question, it builds up a frame around it.

There are some rules of asking questions that a survey-builder should never ignore. The most important is to never lead, never imply answers and never coerce the respondent. Moreover, the survey should be coherent. The progression from general to particular issues should be natural.

Content marketing companies use surveys to overview their “three Rs” – reach, reputation and results. Even with a well-constructed survey, the end-goal of the company issuing it might not be reached. This is because companies try to squeeze in too many subjects in one survey, looking to gather relevant data on them all.

A good survey revolves around a central point. Side-questions have to lead to it and main questions should articulate it thoroughly, further breaking in into topics. For more practical companies set on selling, the same kind of wide grasp provides often useless and unactionable information. Pinpointed trends, preferences, likes and dislikes are the best indicators of consumer behavior. With their help, a company can mold its approach to the market and reach success.

How to increase survey rates:

  • Tell respondents which is the purpose of the research and how you will use their feedback;
  • Send email notifications for future participants to let them know that they will be receiving your survey. You can use an email signature to let them know more about your company;
  • Shorten the survey and make it as precise as possible;
  • Send reminders;
  • Make sure the question order is easily comprehended;
  • Don’t use jargon because some of the respondents may not understand it;
  • Double check if all links in the invitation work correctly.

Companies probing customer feedback are wrong when searching the market for the perfect product. A survey should uncover how a product should be presented to the customers so as to appear as the desired product. In this way, the data gathered will always provide useful intel on how, when and whom to sell to.


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