4 Reasons Why Your Customer Surveys Are Not Working

Customer surveys are a product of the 1980s. Customer feedback was gathered using paper surveys, in-person interviews, and computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI).

Fast forward to 2021 and customer satisfaction surveys are largely conducted online. With the rise of online and email marketing, came new trends within market research.

In fact, market research methodologies are constantly evolving to find innovative ways to earn high response rates of qualified participants.

Are your customer surveys evolving? Or are you stuck scratching your head wondering why earning consumer feedback is so dang difficult?

In this blog post, our customer satisfaction market research firm discusses what could be cause low-response rates and high market research costs for your customer surveys.

Survey Length is Too Long

When writing a customer survey, it is easy to get caught up in wanting to obtain feedback on hundreds of things.

Typically, a customer survey covers three main areas:

  1. Overall sentiment about a brand
  2. Overall sentiment about products and services
  3. Overall sentiment about customer service reps

However, where a customer survey goes wrong is when brands choose to ask 15 questions for each main topic. At this rate, more customers will dropout halfway through the survey than those who complete it.

Keep in mind, human attention span is at its lowest ever. According to Microsoft, humans’ average attention span is a mere 8-seconds long.

While our customer survey firm knows your study will take longer than 8-seconds, it’s important to stick to shorter surveys to gather the most high-quality feedback possible.

What customer survey questions are an absolute must? Our team of senior market research professionals gives their opinions in the video below.

The Key Takeaway: The shorter the survey the better. Keep your customer survey limited to 10 to 15 questions. Respondents are more likely to complete a 5-minute survey than they are a 15-minute one.

Executing the Survey In-House

Storytime! A few weeks ago, I got my haircut and colored at a well-rated salon. I showed my hairdresser a picture of what I’d hope to accomplish during this session. I’ll spare you the details but let’s just say I’ve been wearing a hat ever since.

After my appointment, I received an email to complete a survey about my experience. I was brutally honest. Working for a market research firm I understand that constructive criticism is needed for organizations to improve and become more profitable.

Only moments after hitting submit on the survey do I receive a phone call from the woman who worked on my hair. I was mortified. I assumed my responses would be kept confidential.

If I knew survey responses were not confidential, one of two scenarios would have happened:

  1. I wouldn’t have taken the survey.
  2. I would have been less honest in my feedback.

Herein lies the importance of working with a third party to execute customer surveys.

While a market research company can provide your team with many benefits, perhaps the most significant is to keep the respondent’s anonymity.

A customer satisfaction company likes Drive Research, assures your customers they can be truthful without fear of pushback.

The Key Takeaway: Customers are weary to give their honest opinion of a brand, product, or service if there is little anonymity. A market research company acts as a trusted third party where customers know their responses will not be tied back to them.  

Using the Wrong Channels to Reach Target Respondents

As I briefly discussed at the beginning of the blog post, online surveys are a popular approach to measuring customer satisfaction.

They are cost-effective and deliver fast, high-quality results.

While this is the case for most organizations, there is always an exception to every rule.

Think about your customer for a moment…

  • Do they have access to a computer or internet-enabled cell phone?
  • If they do, does your target audience have access to an email?
  • Are they comfortable using a computer or cell phone to take a survey?

If you answered no to any of these questions, perhaps an online survey is not the best methodology. Instead, mail surveys or phone surveys could offer a better return for your customer satisfaction study.

The Key Takeaway: While online surveys are the largely preferred approach to collecting customer feedback, you must consider your target respondent. If they don’t have access to or are comfortable with using online devices, then a mail survey or phone survey may be a better option.

Not Offering an Incentive

I often receive emails from brands asking me to take a survey to offer feedback on their products and services. If an incentive is offered such as a $50 Amazon gift card or a raffle to win a $250 Visa gift card, I’ll take the survey immediately.

If the sponsor of the customer survey is not offering a reward for my feedback, I’ll save the email to take the survey later. Full transparency, I rarely ever remember to take the survey.

Like it or not, people don’t often give you their time and feedback for free. Perhaps loyal customers will be more inclined to participate in a survey without an incentive, but this heavily skews results.

Recently, our market research firm conducted a survey with our in-house panel to measure what type of incentive is most preferred. Read more about the results here: Market Research Incentives: New Survey Shows What Reward is Most Appealing to Respondents.

The Key Takeaway: Offering customers an incentive to take a survey can lead to less time and money it takes to collect responses. We talk about this theory in length in our blog post, Higher Incentives Can Equal Lower Market Research Costs.

Need Help with Your Next Customer Survey? Contact Us.

Drive Research is a full-service market research company specializing in customer satisfaction surveys. Our team partners with brands from across the country to provide end-to-end project management. We offer services such as survey design, fieldwork, and analysis.

Drive Research also takes a consultative approach to our customer satisfaction survey projects. From recommending the best questions to providing expert recommendations for how to take action with your results, we will act as an extension of your team.

Interested in learning more about our services? Contact Drive Research below.

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at info@driveresearch.com
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

emily carroll about the author

Emily Carroll

A SUNY Cortland graduate, Emily has taken her passion for social and content marketing to Drive Research as the Marketing Coordinator. She has earned certificates for both Google Analytics and Google AdWords.

Learn more about Emily, here.

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