Creating your file with respondent data: best practices

If you are planning to upload respondents to an email touchpoint via File Transfer Protocol (FTP) or manually to the platform, you will have to use either Excel, CSV or TSV files. The files containing all your respondents and eventual metadata are called respondent files

  1. Looking at the general rules
  2. Preparing Excel files
  3. Preparing CSV files
  4. Preparing TSV files

1. Looking at the general rules

If you are planning on uploading a respondent file, you must respect a specific set of general rules. If these rules are not respected, the upload will fail.

  1. Make sure that the first row of each column is NOT empty.
  2. The headers must be placed in the first row of each column.
  3. Email address and language columns are obligatory.
  4. Use the 2 digit ISO 639-1 format in the language column (you can find the list with all supported languages below).
  5. Give your respondent files a unique name with a date (especially when uploading via FTP).


This is an example of a good Excel fileThe Email address column is obligatory. There cannot be any empty field in the Email address column or the upload will fail.

The language column also is obligatory, even if your touchpoint only uses one language.
Simply enter that language's ISO code in the language column.

So: NL for Dutch, EN for English, FR for French, DE for German, IT for Italian and so on (2 digit ISO 639-1 Code).

Below you can find a list with all the supported languages together with its ISO 639-1 code:

NL Dutch
FR French
EN English
DE German
IT Italian
ES Spanish
CS Czech
DA Danish
ET Estonian
GA Irish
HR Croatian
LV Latvian
LT Lithuanian
HU Hungarian
MT Malti
NO Norsk
PL Polish
PT Portuguese
RO Romanian
SK Slovak
SL Slovenian
FI Finnish
SV Swedish
TR Turkish
EL Greek
BG Bulgarian
RU Russian
ZH Chinese

2. Preparing Excel files

The Excel files you upload must have the XLSX extension. XLS extensions will not work.

Hello Customer does NOT support the older .xls format. 

That means the file will need to look like respondents.xlsx

3. Preparing CSV files

CSV files (Comma Separated Values) are plain text files that store tabular data

Many CRM (or other customer data systems) do not support exporting XLSX files. Therefore, CSV files are a good alternative.


Our platform can only read CSV files that meet certain requirements.

Below are the two types of CSV files and their requirements. 

Type 1: When using commas as a separator

  • Do not use commas in your numeric values, for example as decimal separator. Use a dot (.) instead

    [3,000] becomes [3.000]
  • Fields that contain commas (,) or double quotation marks (") must be delimited with double quotation marks (").

    [cats, dogs, "birds"] becomes [cats"," dogs"," ""birds""]

Type 2: When using a semicolon as a separator (preferred):

  • Do not quote values like you would with a comma separated file!

More information on the rules for CSV files can be found on Wikipedia:

4. Preparing TSV files

TSV files (Tab Separated Values) are plain text files that store tabular data, separated by tabs, rather than comma's or semicolons.

There are no special rules to upload this type of file to our system.

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