There are two things to consider, survey response volume and survey response rate and before we go straight into how to increase your response rate, let’s consider whether you need to or not.
In a business to consumer (B2C) environment it is important to consider both response volume as well as response rates. In the fitness industry even the lowest response rates are materially higher than most other retail businesses. The difference is the nature of the relationship. In other retail environments one seeks feedback regarding the transaction. At your health club, the member experience stems from their interactions with our daily operations over repeated visits. This is the relationship we are trying to understand as opposed to a single transaction. This relationship tends to lend itself to higher response rates. The average response rate across all fitness is 21%.
You also need to consider the response volume. It is recommended that you “close the loop” with every member providing feedback within 24 hours. Providing really great responses can be challenging if response volume is high. Part of improving the member experience is to engage with them in a meaningful way. This is the purpose of the closed-loop-feedback process. Too many responses in a day will make this a harder thing to do.
A truly operational customer experience management system (OCEM) should be utilizing all best practices for improving response rates before you have to ask. This includes a concise subject line, being upfront about the amount of time it will take, personable invitation, elegant survey design, not too many open boxes, smart question design and a frequency that makes sense for fitness (every 90 days).
Let’s suppose your response volume is low or pretty manageable and you want to increase your survey response rates. How do we do that without influencing the data? We have learned some great tactics from our own customers.
Place well-designed poster boards on easels showing logos from highly recognized and loved brands that use customer feedback. Include your own logo. Have the heading read: “What do all the great companies have in common?” “We all depend on your candid feedback to get better every single day.” “Look for an email with the subject line ‘Member Survey – 3 minutes’ and please give us your feedback.”
If you do a member newsletter, include reminders asking for candid feedback.
When a membership is sold, be sure that new members are told about the email they will receive asking them to provide feedback.
If you have paper-feedback (i.e. suggestion box) include some signage that reminds members of the email they will receive.
In each of these instances it is important to just create awareness for the survey itself, not the scoring of the survey. Coaching a customer on how to score is all it takes for the customer to feel a genuine interaction turn into nothing more than a transaction. Here is an example from my own experience.
One day in Palo Alto I needed to call on my AAA account to have my car towed to the shop. The tow truck arrived faster than promised and the friendly driver defined helpfulness. When we were all done he handed me a card and said “Will you please go online and score me all 5’s?” That sort of killed it for me. Had he said “If you feel like providing feedback, here is a website and we are only looking for your candid opinion.” I would have felt a lot better about the interaction and would have gone to the site and given feedback. In the former statement it was all about him. In the latter it was all about me.
Create awareness to increase response rates. But always be careful not to influence the response itself. Doing so lets the customer know you are more concerned with your score than their experience.