Don’t Exhaust Your Customers – How To Avoid the Perils of Survey Fatigue

To perform a robust and comprehensive survey of your customer base you need a high quantity of high-quality responses. If you are keen on improving your company’s customer experience (CX) you are likely excited about getting as much customer feedback from your customers as possible. While your enthusiasm for your feedback surveys is great, your customers likely do not enjoy filling them out as much as you may enjoy sending them. 

One of the major culprits of a lower response rate can be survey fatigue. This occurs when your customers become bored of the surveys they are receiving either before they even open them or during the survey. Below we will discuss the major causes of survey fatigue to avoid, ensuring your response rates remain high. 

The key to ending survey fatigue is limiting the number of surveys you send and ensuring that your surveys are short and straightforward so that respondents stay interested.

Causes of Survey Fatigue

Survey Frequency & Timeliness – Don’t send out too many surveys to your customers. It is important to limit the number of surveys you send so that your customer doesn’t get tired of responding to them. Over-surveying your customers will lead to them seeing your survey requests as spam and not only will they begin to ignore the surveys, but they will unsubscribe and you won’t be able to ask them about their experiences again.

Some companies will send survey invitations for every time a customer uses their loyalty card – for retailers, this can be multiple times a week, but it’s also important that you are collecting survey data from a wide segment of your customer base, so it doesn’t help the quality of your feedback to over-survey the same people continuously.

There is no rule as to how many surveys a customer can tolerate as it is entirely up to the nature of your business, but put rules in place to ensure that the frequency is limited to something manageable to keep your response rates high. The rules will vary for transactional and relational surveys, as you can send out transactional surveys more often based on your customer interactions. Relational surveys should be sent out less frequently as they often take much longer to answer. 

Another mistake, quite similar to the issue of frequency, is not sending surveys in a timely manner. If you send surveys at intervals that are random to the customer, your customers may not understand the relevance and ignore your survey requests. To collect useful, high-quality data, the interaction should be at the forefront of their minds so they can give you the most accurate answers. 

The solution to this issue is really simple. Don’t send surveys on your schedule, send them based on the data you have that shows when customers have interacted with you. This means integrating your systems (POS, CRM, loyalty programme) with your Voice of the Customer installation so that surveys are sent out directly following customer interactions. 

Survey Length & Complexity – While the issues of survey frequency and timeliness may affect your customers bothering to open an online survey, the survey length and complexity are what will impact their will to finish it. Having high non-completion rates indicate that your survey is taking too long to finish or the survey questions are too complicated to answer. Length can extend to the number of questions or the amount of time and effort it takes to answer the questions. It is important to keep your surveys relatively short so that responding isn’t a burden to your survey takers and so that they don’t get bored. It also helps to warn survey respondents at the start how long the survey will take so that they are anticipating spending a set amount of time on their responses.

To ensure your survey isn’t too long, make sure you are only asking questions that are entirely relevant to the customer. You should also limit the number of open-ended questions, which can be demanding to answer. Including them is OK, but make sure they are optional. You should also remove any questions you already know the answer to or don’t really need to know. If you have certain customer information to hand, you shouldn’t ask them about it such as contact details and who assisted them with their transaction. (You should already have this information to hand from integrating meta-data from other sources such as CRM and contact centre infrastructure). Ultimately, with the length of your survey, the shorter the better to get people to respond. 

To avoid survey complexity, remove any kind of industry or company jargon from your survey and ensure that each question is very clear and straightforward to answer. If a customer has to read a question twice to understand its meaning, they might think twice about completing the survey at all. Survey questions should be direct and meaningful so that you can gain the most insight from the responses and so the respondent understands the point of the question being asked. 

Survey fatigue is an easily fixable problem if you adopt good survey design and intelligent strategies to avoid over-surveying. Good survey design means ensuring the length and clarity are as streamlined as possible. You may have hundreds of questions you would like to ask your customers, but the value of the survey can only be found the quality and quantity of responses you receive.