04/13/2016 11:34 EDT | Updated 04/14/2017 05:12 EDT

How To Improve Customer Response Rate To Receipt Surveys

Atsushi Yamada via Getty Images
Young woman using smartphone in cafe,mid section

Getting customer feedback is an art of the business in itself. It shouldn't be an afterthought, especially when so much great information is there if you just scratch the surface.

The majority of fast food restaurants offer rewards for answering a survey on the back of their receipt. It's a fantastic idea in theory because it targets current customers who have just had an in-store experience and can give valuable data. But there are a few flaws in execution that make this method inefficient.

In one of my posts about my experience with quick surveys, I suggested switching from online surveys to something more convenient: text messaging. We conducted a survey among Canadian fast food diners, Who Completes Fast Food Receipt Surveys and Why, to present results that show what areas need to be kicked up for a better response rate to receipt surveys.

Better Call-To-Action

Customers can't fill out a survey they aren't aware exists. Forty-five per cent of respondents don't even notice the offer on their receipts and this could be the result of an inconspicuous call-to-action. The receipts, with their instructions printed on the back or the bottom, are easy to miss when most people tuck it away or only check it to make sure that their purchase is correct. Cashiers, who would be able to point this out for the customer, don't always have time to explain the steps when they have long line ups to cash out.

A better call-to-action can increase exposure to make customers aware of the survey. A different medium, like an interactive poster or video on TV, can direct attention effectively. But it's got to be clear for the customer -- every step should be convenient and clearly outlined, from how to reach the survey to getting a reward for their effort.

Easier Surveys

While there are a lot of customers who noticed the survey, a considerable amount didn't bother with it. The most common reason was that it was too complicated, but others simply forgot or lost their receipt.

An easier survey that can be filled out on the spot is the answer then. The research pinpointed that type of survey is problematic: online questionnaires with their logins and websites are time-consuming, even on a convenient data-enabled phone (that not everyone has). A simple text message survey takes three short minutes and can be done before they step foot outside of the restaurant.

The facts say everything necessary to know: 85 per cent of respondents said they'd consider taking the survey -- if the restaurant offered a better way to do it.

Better Incentives

Almost a third of respondents said that filling out the survey was simply not worth their time. The effort put into logging online, navigating to the website and checking off bubbles didn't add up to the chance of winning $500. A valuable use of their time could be offering a reward as simple and convenient as a 20 per cent coupon for their next visit.

After filling out a short five-question text message survey, they can receive an SMS or MMS coupon, a guaranteed reward rather than a gamble not worth their time. The coupon also gives them an incentive to visit the store again and possibly fill out another survey, creating a great feedback loop. Best of all, this kind of small but definite reward doesn't depend on the customers' willingness to take their chances on maybe winning a prize.


There are three key factors to do right in order to get a high response rate: attract, engage, reward. Customers are ready to give you their opinion, and most want you to know how you're doing. It's your job to make it easy for them to provide it for you. The more effort you put into your survey, the less they'll exert to take it.

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