Customer Surveys: The 3 Best Ways to Follow up with Respondents

Think back to the last time you completed an online customer survey. You probably filled it out, never heard back from anyone, and forgot about it.

That’s a wasted opportunity for the company.

While you don’t have time to talk to every single customer who fills out your surveys, some responses are so interesting that you need to learn more. And since almost no other companies actually follow up with customers who give them feedback, a message from a living, breathing person is a huge chance to differentiate yourself. You’ll surprise and delight your customers by showing them that you care not just about hearing their voice, but understanding it too. Plus, you get to dig deeper into their feedback and ask questions that illuminate their responses. Both sides win.

Here’s what you need to know to craft an awesome follow-up for three different kinds of customer feedback surveys.

1. How to Follow up on Overall Customer Experience Surveys

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is the prime example of a survey that uncovers the overall value your product brings customers.

Customers who fill these out are giving you vital information, essentially telling you if your product is viable for the market you’re targeting. That alone is enough reason to get in touch and learn more. But you can also deepen the relationship by going out of your way to show them that your company appreciates their feedback, takes it seriously, and is using it to improve.

 

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This customer, Peter, gave analytics provider Segment a 9 on NPS, but didn’t tell them why. Rather than pat themselves on the back and accept the high score, Segment contacted him to get the context behind it.

The key part of this email is that Segment offers Peter a free t-shirt regardless of whether or not he gives them extra feedback. By giving him the gift for free, Segment is actually making Peter more likely to respond by tapping into the reciprocity principle. He’ll feel thankful, and therefore compelled to return the favor and help Segment out.

Segment’s email gives us three important tips for following up with NPS respondents:

  • Offer a free reward. Gifts get you a lot more than bribes.
  • Keep it conversational. Customers don’t want to hear any industry jargon or long-winded explanations. Just cut to the chase. Segment kept its email to two short sentences and used casual vernacular to assure the reader that a person wrote this email.
  • Tell them how important this is. Segment accomplished this by including its internal email chain with the VP of Growth discussing Peter’s rating. That shows Peter what a big deal his feedback is to them.

You can use these same tactics to win back loyalty from NPS detractors. Just strike a more conciliatory tone in the email as you ask for more feedback.

2. How to Follow up on Feature-Specific Surveys

These surveys are more tightly focused on what customers think of specific features, asking questions like, “What’s one feature we could add to make this product indispensable to you?”

When they answer, your customers are thinking tactically about how those features affect their day-to-day work. In your follow-up message, you need to go out of your way to understand how your product fits into that and show customers you care about helping them reach their goals. That way, they know you’re on their side.

 

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Image Source: Groove

 

This email exchange comes from customer success, but it perfectly illustrates the customer-centric mentality you need when you talk to a survey respondent. Normally, customers find upsells aggressive and sales-y. But Mo from Groove shows the customer that she’s putting their best interests first by positioning her upsell as the exact solution they’re looking for.

When you follow up with respondents to a feature-focused survey, you need to understand the context in which the customer uses your product and frame the conversation around how you can help them more in that context. You need to:

  • Ask questions. If a customer asks for a specific feature, don’t take it at face value. Ask them what they could accomplish for their business with that feature so you can focus on helping them.
  • Upsell helpfully. Your questions might uncover that the best solution for this customer is to move up to a better package. But if you do, show the customer how the upsell will help them get their desired outcome.
  • Know what feedback to discount. If someone told Uber that their app needed a graphing calculator function, they wouldn’t listen. That feature has nothing to do with Uber’s value add. If someone responds to your survey with a feature suggestion that doesn’t make sense for your product, don’t bother following up.

These tactics set you up for a productive conversation about the small changes that’ll add a ton of value for your customers.

3. How to Follow up on Post-Purchase Surveys

These surveys uncover why individual customers did or didn’t buy with questions like, “What persuaded you to purchase from us?” The answers help you shape the messaging you use to differentiate your product.

When you follow up on these, you need to tell respondents that hearing more from them will help you reach new customers. That gives them a small sense of ownership over your future success.

 

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This hypothetical email might not look like much, but that’s actually to its advantage. The simplicity leaves no doubt that a real person wrote it.

More importantly, the sender goes out of her way to say that if the customer answers her question, her company will be able to grow more. Surveys show that customers want to help their favorite companies succeed, especially companies that listen to them and value their opinion. This email taps into that sentiment and gives the customer an easy way to act on it—all he needs to do is reply.

Here are some other tips:

  • Keep the ask small. This customer already bought from you AND filled out a post-purchase survey. Don’t ask them more than one or two simple questions in your follow-up email.
  • Lose the fancy pictures. Engaging images are key to email marketing, but save them for your newsletter. This is you personally asking the customer to help you, not sign up for anything.
  • Ask about the competition. Once you have a product people are willing to buy, you need to find your niche in the market and market around it. Finding out why someone chose you over a competitor lets you find that niche a lot faster.

The key is to make them feel so valued that they want to give you more feedback and help you out.

Give it a Human Touch

As long as you target the right users, ask simple questions, and deploy them at the right time, automated surveys will always get enough responses to give you meaningful data.

But a personal follow-up can surface more of the information your company needs and build respondents’ commitment to your brand. If you treat your customers like people, you get both invaluable business insights and deeper customer relationships.