One of the first questions that we get from potential partners is, “how much do surveys cost?”

In 2019, the average cost of doing an annual survey for a single-site community including all three levels of care was $5,500.

What makes up the cost of a survey?

There are three elements that influence how much it costs to perform any type of survey – the number of surveys to be administered, the methodology of the survey, and the way in which results are reported. Simply put, the cost of doing a survey goes up, or down, based on those three factors.

The first variable, being the number of surveys to be administered, makes complete sense to most people. The more individuals who are surveyed, the higher the cost is going to be. It is also the area where organizations have the least amount of control when it comes to survey cost. If you have 300 employees, then you need 300 surveys. This is why many survey providers try to distill their pricing down to say “it costs $X per survey.” That pricing structure is most beneficial to small organizations, as it doesn’t account for economies of scale. Alternately, larger organizations tend to benefit from package pricing, because they can get a break on surveying larger groups of people.

“Methodology” is just a fancy word for the way in which people complete your surveys. The most common types include doing the survey online, filling out a written form, or talking to someone over the phone. As you might suspect, online surveys are usually the most cost-effective because they are relatively easy to distribute and complete. Written surveys are great for people who may not readily use technology, but do come at a higher cost because of the need for printing, postage, and data entry. Telephone surveys provide a more personalized experience, often enabling organizations to get feedback from people they’d never hear from otherwise. But, because of the time and labor involved in getting telephone-based responses, they are usually the most expensive.

Lastly, the way in which the results of the survey are reported to you is also a concern. One of the benefits of working with a survey provider is the ability to tap into their expertise in understanding and interpreting results; but, like anything, there is a cost associated with that. Some key questions to ask yourself before vetting survey partners are:

  • Are you comfortable interpreting your own results and using a self-service dashboard? Or, would you benefit from the expertise of a consultant who can share best practices?
  • Do you want a separate report for each location or demographic group?
  • Would you like a written document that would be suitable to hand out to key stakeholders?

Each of these options comes with their own pros and cons that will influence your decision. While a “cost per survey” approach may seem like a great deal up front, it can pay to do your homework. We encourage you to take into consideration all of the factors listed above so that you get the most return on investment for the time and money you are spending to garner feedback.