More customer survey mistakes to avoid


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Today we have another in the “common customer survey errors” series.  In truth I could write one of these posts pretty much every week but that might be too much for you, and me, to bear.

In this case one of my software vendors wanted some “customer feedback” and so they emailed out an invite to a customer survey.  The survey itself was not too bad.  Perhaps there were too many marketing segmentation questions and not enough business performance questions for my liking; maybe that’s just me.

On the other hand, in my opinion, there are three important flaws in this customer survey.

Asking customers what you already know

I’ve said it before but it is simply rude to ask a customer for information about their business that you should already know.  This software vendor knows a lot about my business but this is the first question (6 questions actually) in the survey.

Email Address? Seriously? You just sent me the survey by email you could at least pre-enter that! I’m spending time to give you feedback, you could at least make it easy for me.  They already have all this information on file.

Of the 36 questions in the survey there were 9 that they should already know.  That is 9 questions they could have used to ask other more interesting things or shorten the survey to get a higher response rate.

Making the questions difficult to answer

A couple of questions were quite difficult to answer.  I understood the question, it’s just that the response options were not mutually exclusive and so I was unsure how to respond.

For instance “Automate repetitive tasks” is the same as “Save Time”.  Should I choose “Grow sales” or “Generate more leads” they are, in many ways, the same. This looks a lot like not enough time was spent in question design and testing.

Make every question mandatory

Everyone one of the 36 questions in this survey was mandatory.  Apart from not respecting your customer, this tactic can drive false feedback when the respondent does not want to answer the question or does not know the answer.

Okay, most of the time the respondent will know the answer to this question but what if they just don’t want to answer.  No choice but to put a bogus entry here.

Great you have a response but you don’t know if it was the first choice in the list because that was the answer or it was just the easiest way to get through the question.

In this case the vendor has included an incentive to fill out the survey, so perhaps they felt their customers owed them a response to every question.  Your customer never owes you a response.

If you’re going to put an incentive out there you just have to expect that some people will game the system.  However, you will be surprised by how few do.  Making every question mandatory may prevent the 3% from gaming the system but you will annoy the 97% who are not.

Have you seen a good or bad example of a survey recently?  Contact me via the comment box below and we can deconstruct it for everyone else to learn from.

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Republished with author's permission from original post.


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