Handing a gift.

Offering incentives seems like a great idea to stimulate participation in a survey. You can offer people a discount or a voucher for completing the survey. But all is not what it seems.

Eleanor Singer in her 2002* book discovered that direct incentives encourage participation in proportion to the size of the incentive offered. Larger incentives will give larger response rates. Money is more effective than vouchers or gifts. Prize draws are less effective than ‘payments’.

There is also a risk that incentives may result in more positive responses. Respondents are getting something for free, so it artificially increases their satisfaction with the business. When asked the main Suggestar question “Would you suggest our ‘business’ to friends, relatives and colleagues?” the ‘Sure’ response will increase because they will actually be recommending the discount, not the business. So incentives make people more optimistic and provide more positive responses.

Another problem is that people may answer the questions automatically. By this we mean they just click on whatever answer is under their finger or pointer. They don’t assess their experience; they just complete the survey with meaningless answers. With a tool like Suggestar this can skew your overall ratings. When your data becomes corrupted in this manner, you can no longer make informed decisions. Indeed, the data could lead you to make a decision that actually makes things worse rather than better.

Finally, you have to decide how to implement the incentives. What does 10% off the bill mean? If two people dine together, do they get 20% off if they both complete the survey? What happens if they pay separately? How do you know they completed the survey? How do you reward people who complete the survey at home? Incentives seem like a great idea, but they are far more difficult to implement than they appear.

We believe there are better ways to increase response rates than using incentives and have incorporated these methods into Suggestar.

Short and focused

Humans love things that are quick and easy. If a customer loses interest, they won’t complete their task. Suggestar surveys are designed to be short and take under 30 seconds to complete. This gives more responses and reduces the abandon rate.

Use closed ended questions

Closed questions are ones that require a yes/no answer. In Suggestar they take the form of multiple choice or rating scales. Closed questions lead to simple, unbiased data – and are quick and easy to answer.

Small, familiar, rating scales

Suggestar helps you manage your rating questions. It uses a 5 point scale, which most people are familiar with, particularly those that regularly leave product reviews. 5 points roughly equates to: Very Good Good Average Poor * Very Poor

Because people understand the scale, you get more accurate ratings, and so better data. You can set the Suggestar rating as a scale (1-5), 5 stars or a slider.

Short questions

Suggestar is specifically designed to favor short questions. Short questions are easy to answer, keep customers focused and reduce abandon rates.

Test your survey

Suggestar has a Test Survey feature to ensure your survey has a professional finish. Use this feature and you can ensure your survey will appeal to customers.

Randomize questions

If you create more than 5 questions in a Suggestar survey you can choose to randomize them. This is a great option, especially if you get a lot of repeat business. You collect a wider range of feedback, and customers are happy to take the survey every time they visit.

With Suggestar you can forget about offering incentives and focus on creating the best survey possible, to uncover what your customers really think.

In our next article we will tell you our Top Tips to customize and deliver your survey for high response rates.

*Singer E, “The Use of Incentives to Reduce Nonresponse in Household Surveys” Chapter 11 in Survey Nonresponse, John Wiley and Sons, Inc. New York (2002).

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