How to get a 50% NPS survey response rate [CHECKLIST]

Here's a job I hate. Managing customer feedback surveys.

Don't get me wrong - it's incredibly important.

It's the process I take issue with.

Some poor marketing person has to extract a list of customers, pump it through some online survey tool (there could be a monkey involved, hmmm), extract the results to a spreadsheet and then panelbeat them into a charts and words in monthly or quarterly exec report for the bosses to get all "stroky beardy" over.


After all that effort, at least you know there'll some valuable debate about the results and the team will be busting with enthusiasm to kick into action to improve the customer experience!

Does action take hold like that at your business?

I didn't think so.

It's a lot more common to find people challenging the validity of the survey than the results themselves. So, if the analysis gets discredited, that means no action is required until another round of results is produced (so, back to the monkey-tool).

The monkey in the room is poor response rates.

Typically, customer satisfaction survey response rates sit around 5-15% which means that 9 out of 10 customers are effectively ignored in the results.

Invariably, this means results get skewed (often negatively) towards serial responders.

It's no good and your exec team won't buy-in until they see a solid response rate.

What's a good survey response rate?

We analysed the stats behind all the NPS surveys that AskNicely has sent on behalf of clients and have uncovered 12 secrets to maximizing survey response rates (including some of secret sauce we baked into AskNicely).

Currently, the average across all clients is 38% - already 4-6 times higher than the average. But, better still, 30% of clients achieve over 50%!

The effect of boosting responses from 5-10% to 50% can be transformational to the business. Not only are the results more accurate but you can now take action at a customer level based on their particular issues.

If you want to become a fifty-percenter, the good news is it only takes a simple set of small steps.


**1. Ask for feedback** Sounds basic huh? Still, many businesses rely on passive 'click here to leave feedback' mechanics on their website. Fifty-percenters proactively ask for feedback.

2. Use email
Some businesses use 'pop-up' requests on their websites which users are adept at swatting away because interrupt the task the trying to do. Email is more respectful of the customers time and focus plus, we all use it. We've tested phone, sms and web channels and confirmed that email outperforms all for high response.

3. Ask every customer
Forget about calculating statistically significant survey sample sizes. Every customer has an opinion about your service and will be happy to share it if the process is easy. Ask everyone and you can be confident of getting the most representative view of your whole customer base.

4. Time it right
It's no use surveying a customer six months after they've had an experience. Fifty-percenters automatically trigger surveys based on a specific customer interaction eg. purchase or support. Amazon provides a great example of this when they ask you to rate the last book you read.

5. Send it from the boss
The user is more likely to open the email if they see a person's name. Ideally the head of the company. eg. "Joe Schmow, CEO @ AlphaTech"

6. Personalise the subject line
Using the customer's name in the subject line also drives open rates up eg. "Hi Frank, just a quick question".

7. One question is all you need
The biggest response killer is too many questions. Studies show that each additional question added reduces the response rate by 12.5%. Fifty-percenters rely on the gold standard "Net Promoter Score" framework which advocates a single "How likely are you to recommend.." question and a free text follow up.

8. Allow response directly inside the email
The biggest response killer is the "click this link" line that directs a user to a conventional web based survey. We all hate that line - on average, only 5-15% of us click it. Use the one question Net Promoter Score framework, and you can embed the 0-10 buttons right inside the email itself.


9. Mobile friendly is mandatory
Email open rates on mobile phones are now higher than desktop computers so it's critical that your survey displays nicely on all screen formats.

10. Respect the brand
Third party survey tools can set warning bells going. By customizing the email with your logo and a color palette that matches your brand, the user is more likely to trust the survey request.

11. Action the responses
This is some "final level" black belt manoeuvring that will wow your customers and maximise future response rates. If you can follow up the survey responses, customers will be more likely to engage in future.

Using email, you can do things like:

  • A simple "thank you" for a positive comment
  • Follow up negative comments immediately
  • Acknowledge improvement suggestions and descive the business process for how they're considered
  • Request approval to use positive comments as web testimonials or in marketing
  • Provide incentives to repurchase or refer your brand to friends

12. Rinse and repeat
Last, don't fall into the trap of single 'blast' style surveys. Customers should be surveyed at least twice annually or even monthly depending on the nature of your business.

The best way to manage is with a daily NPS program that automatically manages the survey, responses and follow up.

Imagine the relief on the face of your marketing person.