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Survey says: How to avoid customer feedback fatigue

Posted September 24, 2019
women selecting a happy smiley face on her mobile phone

What do product purchases, the end of a contract and a customer service interaction have in common? All are likely to trigger a request for feedback.

Surveying customers on their experience with a brand has immense potential and value for organizations across all verticals. The results can teach companies about how much customers enjoy certain products, their viewpoints on competitors, what their customer lifetime value might be and even how effective contact center agents are at providing support.

Customized surveys have become a near-ubiquitous part of modern life, arriving by phone, mail, email and web pop-ups after each service interaction and purchase. While the feedback is invaluable to organizations, the volume of these requests can be downright exhausting for the consumer. Too many surveys, or a survey that’s too long, can lead to a negative opinion of your brand.

Here are some ways to launch a successful survey campaign in order to avoid the dreaded feedback fatigue.

Keep your survey succinct

The number one rule of surveys is to ask only for the most pertinent information. The goal isn’t to interrogate your customer about every small detail, but to get their overall impression of their experience.

While there’s no golden rule to survey length, data compiled by SurveyMonkey shows that 60% of consumers don’t want a survey that requires more than 10 minutes of their time and 87% don’t want it to exceed 20 minutes.

Some brands tackle the issue of length by using graphics to solicit customer reviews, rather than requiring a manually written response. For example, Uber asks its passengers to rate drivers using a simple star system on its mobile app. It also invites customers to give their driver a compliment by selecting from a number of pre-fixed icons for a streamlined experience.

Image source: Uber

Make sure your timing is right

When you send a customer survey is important. Consumers are busy and quick to move on to other activities so the sooner you can elicit their feedback after they’ve interacted with your brand, the more likely you’ll be to get a response. You’re also apt to get more accurate responses.

For example, Groupon sends out an email immediately following a customer support interaction. “We want to make sure that you’ve received all the support you need for your issue,” as stated in the email. “Also, we’re always working to improve our customer service and we consider your feedback crucial to this process. Please let us know your thoughts with a quick survey.”

Just in case it takes the customer some time to tend to the survey email, Groupon thoughtfully includes a snippet of the service interaction to refresh their memory.

Image source: Groupon

Don’t overlook the customer experience

The key to avoiding survey fatigue is to seamlessly incorporate the survey into the customer experience so that it doesn’t feel like a survey at all, but an extension of the brand engagement. Because Uber’s rating feature is part of its mobile app, appearing immediately following a trip, customers come to anticipate — and complete — this step in the process.

Regardless of the format you use for your customer survey, assess the experience from a customer’s point of view. Ask yourself what consumers might find irritating, and what you can do to alleviate that stress. For example, if your survey is lengthy, do you allow your respondents to skip a question? SurveyMonkey reports that 27% of consumers say not being able to do so “is enough to make them quit a survey completely.”

Another technique that can make the survey experience more palatable is to help consumers get to know your agents better. Providing some personal information about each customer service representative humanizes them, which in turn can boost customer engagement.

New England-based energy company, Eversource, shares friendly tidbits of info about its agents within the survey request — a strategy aimed at building a stronger rapport.

Image source: Eversource

Know when enough is enough

These best practices aside, companies must also understand when it’s time to call it quits on a survey campaign. Pushing your customers to invest time in surveys and repeatedly calling on them to provide feedback can damage the customer-brand relationship.

As explained in the Harvard Business Review by Graham Kenny, managing director of Australian strategic planning consultancy Strategic Factors, “you need enough interviews to get to the point at which you hear nothing new and material is being repeated — so-called ‘saturation.’”

Once you have what you need, it’s time to back off. Consumers are usually willing to share their thoughts and discuss their experiences with an organization, but in return, organizations must respect their time and give them some space.

Surveys are too valuable a tool to be treated as an afterthought. Instead, polish your approach by asking concise questions and making it as easy as possible for customers to answer them. Their willingness to respond may just surprise you.

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