Long Customer Satisfaction Surveys Stink


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There’s something incredibly frustrating when you take an online customer satisfaction survey that ends up taking longer than expected to complete.

It’s obvious that the company that asked you to take the survey wants your feedback. But how many times have you been asked for your feedback in a survey and half way through taking the survey you realize that it is taking to long to finish? What do you do?

If you are like me, you close the browser without completing the survey. For me, after this experience, I am left with a feeling that I just wasted my time. When this happens, we call this survey “abandoned.” For anyone who manages the survey a satisfaction survey process, please consider the following:

Every time a customer abandons your customer satisfaction survey, assume that the customer was frustrated. As a result, you just made a made a happy customer less happy and an upset customer more upset.

This frustration is probably not what you wanted when you asked your customer for feedback. When you create a customer satisfaction survey, your goal should be to create a seamless process and minimize friction. You should also limit the amount of time it takes for a customer to provide their feedback.

Here are four simple suggestions to minimize frustrating your customers with your satisfaction survey process:

1. Set Expectations on how long the Survey will take to Complete
When inviting your customers to take your survey, be up front and honest about the length of time it will take them to finish the survey. This way, they have the opportunity to begin the survey or not. They also have an expectation on how much time it will take to give their feedback. By doing this, you demonstrate to your customer that you value their time.

Also, once your customer is on your survey page, ensure you are using a tool that can continue to set an expectation on the length of the survey. Ideally, your entire survey is on one web page and does not span multiple pages. If a customer sees a “submit” button at the bottom of the survey, then they can quickly determine how much time it will take to complete the survey. If your survey spans multiple pages, there should be some indication of how much of the survey is complete after they finish each page. For example, depending on your survey tool, you could list the total number of questions on the survey (i.e. question 3 of 10). Additionally, you could place a “percent complete” indicator on the survey. Remember, your best option is just to try and keep your survey to one page if you can.

2. Limit the Number of Questions on your Survey
As stated above, demonstrate to your customer that you value your their time. Every question that you place on your survey should have a purpose. Also, don’t ask any question on your survey unless you are planning to take action based on the result. If you are asking a customer for feedback on an interaction, the length of the survey should be relative to the length of that interaction. For example, if your survey is for feedback on a customer service experience that on average is a 10-minute interaction, then your survey should be short. If you are asking for feedback on a longer interaction (like a survey asking for a customer’s feedback on a week-long cruise), then the customer satisfaction survey can be longer and more in depth. Either way, be mindful to limit the questions to get the feedback you are looking for without asking unnecessary questions.

3. Use Unstructured Data Analytics to Analyze Customer Comments
There are typically two types of questions on any survey. The first type is structured questions and the response is a fixed answer (like a multiple choice question). The second type is an unstructured or open-ended question where the customer provides actual comments.

While the structured questions provide information that is easy to analyze and trend, the most meaningful data is in the answers to the unstructured questions. For example, your survey may ask your customer how satisfied they are with your response time. A follow-up unstructured question my ask why they provided the satisfaction rating. A company can easily take the results from the structured satisfaction question to report on the percent of customer that are satisfied or dissatisfied. While this metric is good, the data in the unstructured question actually holds the key to why the customer is satisfied or dissatisfied, The data in the unstructured answer is also actionable feedback the company should use to improve. Unstructured data is definitely more difficult to analyze and often companies do not spend enough time analyzing this data.

Instead of asking a series of structured questions consider minimizing your survey to just a few structured questions. You could even consider asking just one overall satisfaction question. Then follow-up with one unstructured question to allow for open-ended feedback on why the customer is satisfied or dissatisfied. Once you have the unstructured feedback, leverage data analytics to organize, cluster and categorize the feedback. This analysis will help you discover why your customer is satisfied or dissatisfied without asking several other structured questions. By doing this, you can minimize the amount of time it takes for your customer to provide you feedback. This will also help you get the most valuable and important information from the process.

4. Constantly Monitor your Customer Satisfaction Survey Abandon Rate
You should keep a close eye on your customer abandon rate. Find out what it is now and consider making some of the changes suggested in this blog. After you make changes to your survey continue to monitor the abandon rate. Your goal should be to decrease your abandon rate while you increase your response rate

Once you make these changes you will have more actionable feedback and less frustrated customers. A win-win for both your customer and your company.

Kelly Hoopes
Kelly Hoopes is manically focused on improving the customer experience by helping companies realize the value of listening to, responding to and taking care of the customer. With an accomplished career as a results-oriented leader, he leverages creativity to design and build innovative process solutions, elevating a company's service and support functions to a higher standard of performance.


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