How to Create Customer Dialogue and Reduce Survey Fatigue

As a father of a toddler I’m no stranger to fatigue. Interestingly that also plays into one of the most common questions I get asked when it comes to customer experience managementWhat are some ways to reduce the risk of survey fatigue on the part of consumers?

Within surveys themselves there are four key elements that can serve to minimize fatigue on the part of a consumer:

1. Only ask important questions

Survey length is strongly correlated with drop-off rates in surveys. It is important that surveys only ask questions that are impactful to the results you want to achieve. A market insight driven approach to developing your survey based on a combination of cross-brand best practices and brand-specific loyalty modeling is the first step. Loyalty modeling can statistically determine which factors drive key outcomes, like overall satisfaction and likelihood to recommend, for your specific brand. This allows the survey design to prune questions that do not actually lead to useful results.

2. Make the survey appropriate for the medium

Data collection platforms should support a large range of media: computer web browsers, smartphones and tablets, or phone-based (IVR/CATI). Each media has different needs in terms of structure, length, and question wording in order to prevent fatigue. The ability to vary the set of questions, wording of questions and answers, and the visual layout of surveys for different media allows each survey medium to be used most effectively.

3. Give control to the respondent

Fatigue is caused by the mental state of the respondent – “This is taking too long” or “This feels like work.” Surveys can and should be segmented. All respondents are asked a short set of core questions and then given an option to complete a second longer segment that asked more detailed questions. Empathica’s testing with the same set of survey questions shows that adding this optional element reduces fatigue and results in more fully completed surveys.

4. Selective sampling

If it is not possible to create a survey of reasonable length due to the number of factors involved (operational efficiency, marketing, product feedback, etc.) then selective sampling can be used. This essentially allows you to use several smaller surveys at once. Any particular respondent will be asked a specific subset of questions. The ratio at which each subset of questions is asked can be set. For example, you may want 90 percent of respondents to be asked about operational efficiency and 10 percent about the effectiveness of a promotional campaign. In this manner no one particular respondent must answer everything but the total set of survey responses will give you insight across the full question set.

There are also methods to reducing fatigue across surveys:

Multiple surveys at once.

If you have a need to gather information about several discrete topics at once you can use selective sampling (described above). This allows you to invite a large respondent group and those that respond will be proportionally split across your surveys. You do not need to pre-segment your list and hope that enough respond from each group.

Multiple surveys over time (periodic eblasts).

While most satisfaction surveys are ongoing invitations, they can also be supplemented with periodic eblast services. Eblasts are based on specific lists of contacts and can be segmented to ensure that the same respondents are not over-invited to surveys.

Industry research has proven that the majority of consumers are interested in providing valuable feedback to retailers about their shopping experiences. However many companies seem to forget the tenets outlined above and are left struggling to understand why their programs aren’t getting the anticipated adoption by their customers. Plan to prevent fatigue during the build phases of your program and chances are excellent that you will experience higher response rates and less drop-offs.

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