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Survey Fatigue: Is Your Survey at Risk?

Frustrated Customer Taking Survey


Are you over surveying customers? Survey fatigue threatens response rates, data quality, and your overall objectives for your survey program. Unfortunately, some drivers of fatigue are outside of your control.

The prevalence of inexpensive survey tools, combined with the broader acceptance that the customer’s voice is critical for every business, has led to millions of online surveys being issued every year. Therefore, it’s even more important that you make your surveys stand out.

The good news is that survey fatigue can certainly be minimized if you have a well-defined process for gathering customer sentiment.

To reduce survey fatigue, here are just a few questions to ask yourself before you administer your next relationship survey:

1. Is my survey too lengthy?

The most notable cause of survey fatigue is when the respondent is bombarded with an excessive amount of questions. Not only will too many questions lead to drop-offs, but it can impact the quality and truthfulness of your data, as respondents rush to complete the survey. Put yourself in the respondent’s position. Instead of contributing to their workload, accommodate them. Create a questionnaire that is concise, effective, and simple. Remember, you’re seeking actionable and relevant feedback.

2. How long does it take to complete the survey?

Arguably, more important than the number of questions is how long the survey takes to complete. Depending on the complexity of the questions and the number of open-ended opportunities, a ten-question survey can sometimes take 2X longer to complete than that of a concise twenty-question survey. Ideally, a relationship survey should take no more than 2 to 5 minutes to complete. We recommend you distribute the survey to several internal colleagues first and time it out.

3. How often am I surveying my customers?

It’s important to not only take into account the surveys you or your department administers but to also think about other areas of the organization. What types of surveys might they be distributing (onboarding surveys, product surveys, support surveys, etc.)? Be sure to communicate with other departments and designate a good window for your relationship survey to take place.

While you can’t control how often other companies survey your customers, you can certainly set some guidelines for your organization. Consider ‘touching’ your customers once or twice a year for your relationship survey, while setting rules for other surveys your company might issue so the total number in a year doesn’t exceed 4 to 6 per contact.

4. Am I asking the right questions?

As you begin to construct your survey questionnaire, it’s important to use branching or skip logic so each contact only sees questions relevant to them. For example, senior contacts may not be as knowledgeable about certain aspects of the engagement, such as product features or support issues, whereas end users may not have a view into the business impact or ROI experienced.

And if you can avoid it, don’t include demographic questions (name, title, industry, length of engagement, etc.). It will only frustrate customers if they are required to enter information they feel you should already have.

Check out this post if you are looking for more tips on designing an effective survey.

5. Do I have a process in place to ensure there is active communication?

One of the most important steps to reducing or eliminating survey fatigue is to clearly demonstrate to your customers their voice is being heard and acted upon. As they become confident their feedback is being used to continuously improve the experience they have with your company, they will be much more likely to take the time to respond to your surveys. The formula is simple – receive feedback, evaluate pain-points and improvement opportunities, outline a clear plan-of-attack to mitigate or eliminate gaps, act on it, and communicate what you’ve done! This process – known as “closing the loop” – will build confidence that the time customers take to provide feedback is well spent.

Ultimately, eliminating survey fatigue comes down to respecting your customers’ time. Limit the number of surveys you administer, keep the questions relevant, and always act on the feedback received.

How effective is your relationship survey?

Send us your current survey questionnaire and we will critique its length, assess the flow, evaluate the question language, review response scales, and identify any potential biases.