Top Tips to Avoid Survey Response Fatigue

No matter what questions you need to get answers for, you’ll know that the more responses you can get, the higher your chances of obtaining quality insights from which you can take meaningful actions. Consequently, you’ll want to do everything possible to avoid survey response fatigue.

Survey response fatigue is a growing challenge

While you’ll be looking to gain a healthy response rate from your surveys, it’s important to consider the circumstances of those respondents you’re trying to reach, as you’re unlikely to be the only ones trying to collect their feedback.

In today’s fast-moving market customers are being asked for their feedback more than ever before. Survey requests can be generated for many different situations such as following an in-store purchase or a customer review from your utility provider, which are both looking to measure your satisfaction levels with their respective products or services. Similarly, you can be asked for your opinions following a visit to a restaurant, or even a hospital in follow up to any appointment or treatment you may have received.

It’s also important to note that customers are receiving survey requests across a growing number of touchpoints, as businesses increase the way in which they distribute surveys from email invitations, website pop ups and SMS, to distribution via a QR codes, social media channels, over the telephone and even offline surveys. And when you factor in that respondents can now be notified about surveys requests from anywhere on their mobile devices – a growing medium for surveys with 30-40% of all online surveys now completed on these devices – it’s not hard to appreciate why some people are starting to suffer from survey fatigue.

This survey fatigue can be broken down into two main types:

Survey request fatigue

This sort of lethargy applies to people who have been asked for their feedback so many times that they no longer want to respond. At its most extreme survey request fatigue causes people to completely ignore a feedback request and reduces survey return rates.

Survey taking fatigue

This typically occurs when someone is in the middle of a survey and gets tired of the questions. This can be detrimental to the quality of their responses, as they may skip questions or spend minimal time answering your questions. They may even abandon your survey completely.

However, despite this growing challenge, we wouldn’t recommend stopping your own survey process completely, as much best practice in business relies on obtaining and reviewing feedback. Instead, you need focus on ways in which you can mitigate the effects of survey fatigue.

Fortunately, there are strategies you can employ to address both types of survey fatigue, which can also prevent your customers from becoming overwhelmed. These are discussed in more detail in the section below.

4 ways to help you avoid survey response fatigue

1) Don’t overwhelm your audiences with too many survey requests

Overwhelming respondents with too many survey requests and questions can reduce your response rates and harm the quality of insight you are able to glean from them. The statistics back this up with 72% of shoppers saying too many survey requests interferes with their online shopping experience, while 80% of respondents have abandoned survey’s halfway through them.

Consequently, the best way to reduce a high abandonment rate is to limit the number of surveys you request from your customers and keep your surveys as brief as possible.

Here’s some advice to help you with this:

  • Depending on your product or service, you may want to consider sending surveys out just twice a year to avoid over-surveying
  • Try to keep any survey questions brief – about 140 – 200 characters each
  • Keep questions relevant to survey takers and people who are requesting information
  • Keep your survey short and simple, and try to avoid asking respondents the same thing in different ways

2) Communicate the value of participating in your survey

While we’ve already stated how challenging it can be to reach out to respondents when there can be many other businesses trying to obtain their feedback, people will be more likely to take your survey if they feel their opinions will be considered and make a difference. In fact, 87% of respondents said they’d participated in surveys because they felt it would help make a difference to a company’s products or services.

To help highlight the value of your survey and encourage more people to complete it, you may like to consider including some of the following points:

Make it clearer to respondents why you need their feedback:

People are more likely to respond when you make it obvious to them about why you’re soliciting their feedback.

For example, a survey campaign, which leads with a clear and enticing top level message such as ‘Help us choose the next colour for our classic car range!’ would be more likely to elicit a response than one which was less compelling and harder for them to decipher.

Think about the source of your survey request:

Surveys that appear out of nowhere such as pop-ups, email auto responders’ requesting feedback and phone surveys that try to keep your customers on the line when you have just finished a customer service call can be all too easy to ignore. However, if your survey request came from someone with authority such as your company’s CEO, your respondents would be far more likely to stop, think and respond to it.

For example, if as a Facebook user you suddenly received a survey request from their CEO with the following message: ‘Hi it’s Mark Zuckerberg, here. I would love to have your feedback about what we can do to make Facebook a better resource for everyone!’. This would be more likely to grab your attention and encourage you to respond than if you received this request from any other source within the company.

Explain how the survey will impact your business (or cause, product, service):

As people will be more likely to respond if they know their answers are actually going to be used, rather risk disappearing into the void.

For example: if you were thinking about moving your business and wanted to elicit feedback from your customers to identify their preferred location, you may want to entice them to take your survey with the following message: ‘Hi, we’re thinking about moving, so we’re planning to use your feedback from this survey to decide on the best location to open our new shop.’

3) Keep your survey simple and concise

With 52% of all respondents indicating that they would be prepared to leave a survey after three minutes, you have very little time to keep them focused and engaged. It’s therefore prudent to keep your questions brief and simple to understand to help minimise your chances of survey fatigue.

Here’s some tips you might like to include in your own survey questionnaire to help you with this:

  • Think about using close-ended questions like multiple choice or checkbox questions
  • Avoid absolutes – such as ‘Do you “always” shop online?
  • Although they can provide useful insight, use open-ended questions sparingly – as they take longer to answer with recipients required to type in their own responses
  • Let people know up front how many questions they need to complete
  • Try to limit your total number of questions
  • Think about including skip logic or piping features, as these allow respondents to skip over questions that are not relevant to them based on a previous answer.For more advice in this area and further suggestions about what you can do to improve your survey response rate you might also like to read our ‘Top Tips to Improve Your Online Survey Response Rates’ blog.

4) Consider taking your own survey

One of the best ways to determine if your survey is functional, easy to understand and likely to provide meaningful answers is to take it yourself and get your colleagues to take it as well. Here are some points you might like to think about when you are working your way through your survey.

  • Make a note of any issues or roadblocks you may encounter
  • Get feedback from key stakeholders
  • Keep any eye out for any bias in your questions and remove it
  • Adjust your survey based on any, or all the above

Reducing your future risk of response fatigue

While surveys are an essential tool, which you can use to better understand your customers, it’s important to note that obtaining customer feedback, is only one part of your larger marketing strategy. To get the most value from your surveys, it’s vital that they are tied to specific company goal or initiative, with a plan in place for implementing any required changes based on the responses you get back.

By reducing your response rate and limiting the quality of answers you can obtain, survey fatigue can stop you from getting the feedback you need to achieve your goals. That’s why it’s crucial to design and implement surveys that help you to remove this obstacle.

To build a strong survey you also need to be clear about its purpose and objectives, which can be found by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Who within my organisation will benefit from this survey and what are they looking to achieve?
  • How will the survey’s results help my customers?
  • How will I communicate the impact of the survey’s results to my audiences?

By having a clear vision and strategy for your survey and how it will improve your company, products or services, you’ll be in a much better position to achieve your goals.

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