What are typical customer survey program costs?

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Clients ask this question all the time. Unfortunately, it’s like asking how much a dress costs. A beach coverup from Target is $20; a couture gown from Chanel could be $200,000.

With customer survey programs, as with dresses, there is an enormous range.

Your Typical Customer Survey Program Costs Include:

  • Question Development with Logic Branching
  • The Software Platform
  • Campaign Development (The Messages and Reminders that Invite Users to Take Your Survey)
  • Survey Testing
  • Incentives or Some Other Way to Thank Respondents for Their Time
  • Immediate Red Alert Follow-Ups with Those Who Shared Problems or Asked Questions
  • Less Immediate Follow-Ups
  • Analytics, Including Text Analysis
  • Findings Reports, Decks, and Presentations

As a customer experience agency that’s administered thousands of surveys, we can say with certainty that each of these factors varies tremendously based on survey size and complexity.

That’s why we wanted to break down the range of customer survey program costs so you know what to expect and how to maximize value. Because while cost matters, usually value matters even more.

After all, if you shave your costs down to a pittance but get minimal response and meaningless metrics – you’ve wasted resources. On the other hand, if you increase your spend and get insights that sharpen your strategy, you did well! Warren Buffet summed it up this way: “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”

Here are some typical ranges for projects and programs. These averages hold true whether you add up in-house salaries or vendor costs.

  • Project: A specific and time-bound effort with one focused objective.
    Average Project Fee: $12,000 to $35,000.
  • Daily Data Program: A continuous survey that gathers responses, usually at the close of an interaction, such as a repair, an order, or a help desk call.
    Average Fee Per Month: $2,500 to $15,000.
  • Tracking Study: An ongoing research initiative that compares customers’ (or employees’) opinions over years or even decades. If your database is large enough, you might monitor your progress quarterly, contacting different individuals each time.
    Average Fee Per Study: $35,000 to $60,000.

Now, we’ll detail your customer survey program costs so you can see how these fees add up.

Customer Survey Program Costs: 7 Main Factors

Seven main factors largely determine your costs:

  1. List Size
  2. List Organization
  3. Survey Software
  4. Survey Development
  5. Analysis, Deliverables, & Findings
  6. Portals & Dashboards
  7. Operational Costs

1: List Size

The size of your list impacts every phase of the survey process.

For instance, with analysis, the size of your list impacts how many segmentations you can run – because if your list is 1,000 and you get a 20% response rate for statistically valid results, you’ll only be able to run two segmentations at most. But if you have a list of 10,000 and get a 20% response, you’ll have lots of options for segmentations. 

List size impacts your Text Analysis too. You might think AI can analyze all your text answers, but for accurate results, there will be at least some human research involved. How much human research is directly impacted by the amount of text your survey receives.

2: List Organization

Before you send your survey, there is inevitably some work to get your list in order. Plus, you need strategic conversations to explore who will take your survey. Will that be everyone in your database? Just your most engaged customers? Only new customers?

After you decide on your survey audiences, you’ll need to format your list. A well-formatted list enables you to personalize your survey requests properly.

To see why, compare Survey Invite A vs. Survey Invite B:

survey invitation showing one part of what goes into customer survey program costs

The first example is aggressive and looks cut and pasted in. The second example is polite and is less likely to be deleted. When you need a high survey response rate, and surely you do, every detail matters. 

Here are some of the steps list formatting typically follows:

  • Remove duplicate data.
  • Split names into first and last names, being mindful of names with extra spaces where there shouldn’t be.
  • Put names and custom fields in title case.
  • For B2B surveys, compare each contact’s email domain to their associated company name to make sure they match. Use Excel formulas to expedite Also, to maximize readability on your B2B invites, parse company data to remove terms like “LLC” and “Corp.”
On average, to get your list in order, you’ll spend $900 to $3,900, depending on how large your list is, how much strategy you need, and how much formatting needs to happen.

3: Survey Software

Perhaps one of the first customer survey program costs you’ve looked into are the costs of platform companies like SurveyMonkey, Qualtrics, Medallia, or Alchemer.

Most survey platforms charge by number of responses, but all have tiers, and your price depends on the tier you join. To determine what you’ll pay and which tier you need, consider these questions:

  • How often will you issue your survey? Daily? Weekly? Quarterly?
  • How large is your database?
  • Will you send your survey by email? SMS? Embed it on your website?
  • What custom features do you need?
  • How many users need to access the platform?
  • What about Salesforce? Often, you’ll want to share data between your survey and other CRM applications. If you need to tie into Salesforce but don’t want to pay for the integration upgrade, one relatively inexpensive workaround is Zapier, a tool that automates workflows. But if Salesforce is central to your project, you may want to consider the lesser-known survey platform SurveyVista. It’s one of the few survey platforms that ties directly into Salesforce.
The average software licensing cost is $5,000 per year but could be closer to $12,000, depending on the integrations, customizations, and number of responses you plan to collect. At the lowest tiers, with companies like SurveyMonkey, you may be able to squeak by with an annual fee closer to $1,200. TIP: Working with a 3rd party survey expert often saves you money because they already have software licenses in place.

illustration of survey design to show one part of customer survey program costs

4: Survey Development

Survey software is essential, but it won’t write your survey for you. Sure, most platforms come with templates, but your company wasn’t built from a template, and your survey shouldn’t be either.

Survey development covers writing the survey questions, integrating them with answer formats, and building logic branching. When it comes to survey development, a key advantage of working with a 3rd-party survey expert is they can see biases in your approach that you would unlikely find on your own.

As you consider survey development, ask yourself:

  • How many topics do you need to cover? Do you have questions about every department the user has interacted with? Or will a general overview do?
  • How will you eliminate bias and ensure each question is answered accurately?
  • What’s your plan for maximizing customer engagement?
  • How many unique audiences will your survey address? Your marketing folks should get different questions than your technical workers, etc.
  • When you think about your questions, which answer formats will give you the most utility? Open-ended text? Rating scales? Multiple-choice selections? How much do you know about the pros and cons of various answer formats?
  • Can your survey expand on a prior survey? A focus group? Interviews? Might it be helpful to reverse it and send it to employees?

Integrated Data: Where do you need to integrate your CRM data? The email? The survey? Both? How much data are you pulling in? The customer’s case number? Their name? Their company? Surveys that pull in data and give each customer their own URL are the best surveys because they don’t waste your customers’ time asking about information you already know.

Logic Branching: Companies often send everyone the same static survey, but this effectively tells customers you haven’t done your homework. Top-tier surveys appear to respondents as just a handful of questions, but each customer gets a different set of questions based on their previous responses and tailored to their role.

Multiple Languages: Will you administer your survey just in English or other languages too? While using AI for translation is tempting, you also need a human translator who will pay attention to cultural differences and nuances.

Designing a very short survey may only cost $2,000 (or less). A longer survey will cost approximately $9,000, and a very long survey $12,000. However, in addition to survey length, the complexity of the branching, the number of personas your survey will cover, how much strategy you need, and translation services are all variables that affect survey development fees.

illustration of delivering survey data to show one part of customer survey program costs5: Analysis, Deliverables, & Findings

You’ve sent your survey, and customers have responded. Now what? How will you analyze the feedback you’ve collected? How detailed do you need your analysis to be?

Some of the different types of analyses are these:

  • Segmentation Analysis:You will almost certainly want to know how different types ofrespondentsanswer your survey questions. For example, you may want to know if age groups respond differently? Or perhaps location affects customers’ answers? Segmenting the data is the first step in actionable
  • Correlation Analysis: Correlations show what is associated with—or even driving—your Net Promoter, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Effort, and other outcome scores.
  • Text Analysis: Discovering themes among your customers’ comments and then seeing them in rank order priority is one of the most meaningful kinds of analysis you can do. For cost reasons, you may be tempted to hand this off to AI. But until your AI has gone through many rounds of training, your text mining needs to include human researchers to ensure replicable Text is your source of the most actionable insights; it’s your survey gold! So, investing in high-quality Text Analysis is worth it.

Deliverables: Besides a deck you can share with teams, you’ll want the accompanying Excel with the final clean data set as well as the analysis files. If you need audio files or separate decks for different teams, ask for this upfront because it will affect your end-game customer survey program costs.

Presentations: Do you need your survey analysis presented on-site? Via Zoom? While Zoom is efficient, nothing really replaces the power of in-person interactions, where stakeholders can brainstorm and plan next steps together.

Also, think about how many times the Findings will be presented. It may seem like one-and-done, but our experience is that different teams require different presentations. For example, your CEO may want a 5-minute highlights summary, whereas your engineers might ask for a Q&A that drills into every aspect of the survey methodology.

First, there is analytics software, which you can buy outright or license by the year—buying it outright is almost always the best option. As of Q1 2024, to buy one of the most popular programs, SPSS your cost ranges from $3,800 to $25,000 per user. Then, consider research time. Depending on the depth of analysis and size of the survey, analysis runs from $5,000 for a simple survey to $40,000 for a large study. Regarding Findings Presentations, almost everyone wants to present on-site, so usually, this only adds a nominal fee.

6: Portals and Dashboards

Enabling you to monitor your data in real-time, almost all surveys come with a portal. That said,  some come in the form of underwhelming PDFs, while others like this one are sleeker and more user-friendly.Dashboard as part of customer survey program costs

However, if you’re running a survey program, more than a portal, you’ll need a customer experience dashboard. This way, you can explore your data on the fly. For your dashboard, consider what filters will be actionable. Standard filters are date, products, location, and representatives. But every company needs to examine its data in its own ways. What filters do you need?

For Your Customer Experience Dashboard, consider:

  • How will it showcase the pillars of your brand?
  • What kinds of infographics will be best?
  • Should users have different access privileges to different types of data?
  • Do you need your dashboard to generate automatic alerts, enabling you to follow up with customers immediately?
Portals usually don’t add to your customer survey program costs, but when you review vendors, you should ask to see your portal options. A dashboard will add to your costs, but not by much. Usually, it costs about $2,000 to $4,500 to develop a customer experience dashboard and approximately $500 to $2,500 per month to maintain it.

7: Operational Costs

To make your survey sophisticated and effective, there are just a few more things to consider.

Email Delivery Methods: You might want your survey to come from a different domain than the one your survey software uses. In fact, it can look unprofessional and impersonal when your survey does come from a do-not-reply email address. Even worse, a do-not-reply address completely shuts down the opportunity for customer feedback outside of your survey.

You’ll need to set up SPF or DKIM to combine a dedicated email address with your survey platform. Also, you’ll need to license and integrate email delivery software. While the cost of email delivery software is minimal, the cost of setting up a complete email solution is not. TIP: A 3rd party survey expert will have all of this in place, and for this reason alone, it usually makes sense to outsource your survey.

Driving Response: We’ve written about how to boost your survey response rate, but for the highest response, make sure your survey invites incorporate Cialdini’s persuasion principles.

You may also want to offer customers small incentives for taking your survey. Examples of incentives that work are priority codes that move customers to the front of a phone queue, gift cards to Amazon, fun company swag, and contributions to charities.

Follow-up Actions: Based on respondents’ answers, you’ll need to follow up with customers to understand their experiences in more detail or to resolve complaints. Follow-ups might be done by email, but that’s not ideal. The best way to follow up is with a phone call or a virtual meeting.

In one of our recent roundtable discussions, Bain & Company’s Rob Markey emphasized the importance of closing the feedback loop with customers. Rob’s perspective was this: Don’t bother to send a survey if you don’t plan to follow up with your customers, especially those who took the time to identify issues with your company.

Operational costs, especially if you factor in a thorough follow-up process, could be anywhere from $1,000 to $25,000 or more. It depends on your objectives and the scale of your project or program.

Seeing How Your Fees Add Up

Reviewing the ranges from above, here’s how your fees add up.

table of customer survey program costs

Bottom Line: Customer Survey Program Costs

The total price tag for administering your survey will vary widely based on the survey size, complexity, and depth of analysis you require.

We believe that the best customer experiences and customer surveys happen because executives are well-informed—and that’s where we come in. Before you spend a dime, come to us for expert resources and recommendations. Discussing customer survey program costs is a great place to begin.

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Interaction Metrics builds scientific surveys that result in decisive outputs and actions. Want to see examples of our customer surveys? Interested in more detail about customer survey program costs? Get in touch!

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Categories: Customer Surveys
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