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How to conduct successful IVR surveys

Find tips for getting customers to take IVR surveys and learn the pros and cons of written surveys, outbound call surveys and SMS surveys in this Q&A.

In general, what is a reasonable response rate for transactional surveys?

More specifically, should I expect a better response rate if I send callers to an interactive voice response (IVR)-driven survey immediately after the completed call, versus sending an email with a link to a survey afterward?

Sending callers to a simple automatic IVR survey can provide an immediate response and is less expensive than typical outbound customer satisfaction surveys. Automatic IVR surveys should be simple and quick to complete, typically utilizing Yes/No questions with an allowance for customer comments so customers can provide real value by explaining any negative interaction.

For organizations processing all calls through an IVR, provide an offer at the beginning of the call to survey callers at call conclusion. This promotes unbiased responses as callers signal their willingness to participate in a survey before they receive assistance by an agent. At the call conclusion, the system automatically connects the caller to an IVR to enable feedback or a survey. Automated surveys can receive a lower response rate as callers are more likely to hang up on systems than on a person. However, the volume of calls combined with a formal survey process provides valuable information for organizations with a customer focus.

Each survey type has its purpose. IVR surveys provide immediate, generally impersonal information. Written surveys, which should be sent to the caller within 48 hours for the most accurate information, tend to provide more detailed responses. Unfortunately, those with an issue are more likely to take the time to respond, thus skewing information towards the negative. Dedicated outbound call surveys are best initiated within 24 hours of the service event. This is expensive, but enables greater drill-down on specific call types for root-cause analysis. SMS messaging is gaining some interest as an immediate feedback mechanism, however, the level of detail collected is minimal and some callers find this method intrusive. Whether through email, outbound call or SMS message, the best practice to increase survey response and information quality is to provide the survey within 30 minutes of the interaction.

Whatever customer satisfaction survey method you use, keep in mind that the survey needs to focus on customer satisfaction and uncovering what your company is doing wrong, opportunities for improvements and how your company is perceived against your competition.

This was last published in February 2009

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