6 min read
Survey Fatigue: What is It and How to Prevent It?
Customer surveys are one of the best strategies to get feedback from your customers and, ultimately, align your offering to what your customers want and expect. However, if you’re not careful, you might encounter survey fatigue which leads to low completion rates and skewed data which impacts the reliability of your surveys.
But what is survey fatigue, and how do you avoid it? In this post, we’ll look at these questions in more detail.
What is Survey Fatigue?
Survey fatigue is when your customers, audience, or respondents, depending on the circumstances, become bored or uninterested in your surveys. When this happens, they don’t complete the surveys to provide their opinion or feedback on a specific product, brand, or service. In turn, this leads to low completion rates, abandonment, or completing the survey in a rush, which impacts the reliability of the results.
Types of Survey Fatigue
There are two different types of survey fatigue, and they’re classified based on when they happen during the survey process. Let’s look at these a bit closer.
Pre-Response or Survey Response Fatigue
Survey response fatigue happens when respondents are overwhelmed before they start a survey, usually because of the sheer number of surveys they need to complete or, in other words, being over-surveyed. The result of survey response fatigue is always that these respondents will not even start with the survey. In turn, this leads to lower response rates.
Survey Taking Fatigue
Unlike survey response fatigue, survey taking fatigue happens when a respondent has already started a survey and results in respondents abandoning the survey or rushing to complete it. Survey taking fatigue is typically caused by issues with the surveys themselves or survey design, such as too many questions, a high proportion of open-ended questions, or question repetition.
What Causes Survey Fatigue?
There’s no single cause for survey fatigue and most of the time, it happens as a result of a confluence of factors. These factors include:
- Poor survey design. When a survey is poorly designed, it often doesn’t flow well from one question to the next, seems to lack a purpose, is visually unappealing, or contains other defects that impact the experience negatively.
- Over-surveying. A major factor causing survey fatigue is over-surveying or, in other words, asking your customers or audience for feedback too often. Yet, despite this, it’s also important that surveys are not scheduled too far apart. Ultimately, you should find the perfect balance between surveying too much and too little. This will depend on your unique circumstances, your customers, and the products or services you offer.
- Question repetition. When you ask the same questions repeatedly, it shows a lack of professionalism. Apart from this, respondents will also become bored when this happens.
- Long survey questions. One of the most significant factors that contribute to survey fatigue is survey questions that are too long. A reason for this is that using surveys with too many long questions that take longer than expected, leads to a negative experience for the respondent.
- Incorrect audience targeting. When you don’t target the right audience, their experiences might not align with the questions you ask in the survey. This happens, for example, when you ask for feedback on a product that the respondents aren’t using. As such, this will not only lead to survey fatigue but even if respondents complete the survey, your feedback won’t be worth much.
How Survey Fatigue Affects Your Branding
We’ve now looked at what you shouldn’t do if you want to avoid survey fatigue. But what happens if you don’t, and you encounter survey fatigue? In other words, what effect does survey fatigue have on your brand?
Firstly, survey fatigue can lead to your customers looking at your business in a negative light. For example, when you over-survey your customers, they’ll sooner rather than later shift from seeing your business as one that delivers exceptional products or services to one that is intrusive.
Moreover, as mentioned earlier, survey fatigue can have a detrimental impact on the quality of the data you’ll gather. In turn, this could have an impact on the decisions you make based on the feedback you receive. Also, while survey fatigue might cause some customers to not complete surveys, it will have little to no effect on those with strong views. This causes a form of survey bias known as non-response bias, which leads to skewed data.
Finally, when you pay to conduct surveys, it could have negative financial consequences if you regularly conduct surveys but don’t get any value from or return on investment on the feedback you gather.
How Often Should You Send Customer Surveys?
As mentioned earlier, there’s no single best frequency for sending surveys, and it depends on your circumstances, your customers, and the nature of your products or services.
Think of it like this; a customer who interacts with your business almost every day will be more amenable to complete a survey once a month. Likewise, for a customer who interacts with your business only once a month or less, completing a survey every month will be a hassle.
For this reason, you should send out customer surveys about once every quarter if you’re a B2B business, as these businesses interact with their customers less often than B2C businesses. If you don’t want to use quarterly surveys as a B2B business, you could consider multiplying the number of interactions with the customer by two and using that as a guideline.
For example, if you interact with your customers monthly, you can send out a survey every two months. Likewise, if you interact with your customers weekly, you can send out surveys twice a month.
Tips to Prevent Survey Fatigue
We’ve now seen what survey fatigue is, why it’s important to avoid it, and what effect it can have on your brand. Let’s now look at some actionable tips you can use to prevent survey fatigue.
Keep Surveys Short
Let’s face it, nowadays, customers don’t have the time or inclination to complete a long survey. As such, when you do send a survey to your customers, it’s best to keep it short.
Now, you might wonder what the right length for your survey is. Unfortunately, we can’t answer this question, and it depends on your specific business and your customers. Ideally, you should place yourself in your customers’ shoes and decide whether you’ll be happy completing the survey you’re sending.
Pay Attention to Your Questions
When creating your survey, it’s crucial that you pay careful attention to the questions you are asking, not only in respect of form but also in respect of substance. As such, you should focus on keeping your questions short, as a wealth of long questions discourage your customers from completing the survey before they even start. Also, you should avoid asking repetitive questions in your survey, which leads to boredom and prevents your customers from completing your surveys.
Consider the Time it Takes to Complete the Survey
We’ve already mentioned how important it is to keep your surveys short. But remember, the time it takes to complete a survey does not necessarily correlate to the number of questions in the survey. For example, a survey with 20 simple questions will be quicker to complete than a survey with 10 in-depth, open-ended questions that require some thought.
As such, you should not only focus on how many questions you ask, but also on how long it will take to complete the survey. Ideally, and to get the best results, you shouldn’t go over five minutes.
Communicate the Time it Will Take to Complete the Survey
Once you’ve calculated how long your survey will take, it’s also important to let your customers know how much time will be necessary to complete the survey. In this way, they’ll know what they’re in for before they start and be more likely to complete the survey. It’s important to remember, however, that when you communicate a time to your customers, you should stick to it; otherwise, they won’t complete one of your surveys again.
Segment Your Audience
When developing your surveys, it’s vital that you segment your audience. When you do, you’ll segment your customers based on the products or services they use. It’s the only way you can ensure that you ask questions that align with your customers’ experience and, in other words, keep your questions relevant.
Act on the Feedback
It’s vital that, once you’ve obtained feedback from your customers in a survey, you implement that feedback into your product or service. Remember, the ultimate goal of a survey is to improve your products or service or to align your offering with your customers’ needs and expectations. So, if you don’t, what’s the purpose of the survey in the first place?
Apart from implementing the feedback into your products or services as mentioned above, you should also tell your customers that you have done so. This serves two important purposes. For one, you’ll show your customers that their feedback is important and that you value their input. Moreover, this will make them more willing to complete other surveys in the future.
To align your products or services to what your customers want and expect, you should not only ask for their feedback, but also incorporate that feedback into your offering. Your first step in doing this is using customer surveys. However, if you’re not careful, you might run into survey fatigue, which impacts the quality of feedback you’ll get. Hopefully, this post helped illustrate what survey fatigue is and how you can avoid it.
Konstantine is the Head of Digital Marketing at ULTATEL. With a decade of experience in leading marketing strategy, he understands the importance of consistently adapting to the ever-changing digital landscape.