Still Pushing Paper

When you have to collect a set number of survey responses by a certain date, using paper questionnaires can seem seductively easy; they’re quick and easy to set up and, given the right audience and subject matter, you can guarantee to achieve your response target.

However, before you leap into the familiar, there are a number of factors to consider first:


The costs of paper, printing, and postage are all on the rise and we are all trying to move towards more sustainable and environmentally friendly communication methods. The cost savings alone of switching to online surveys can be a significant motivator to make the change.  In contrast, it can be costly to buy screens, tablets and specialist kits to collect feedback. One of the huge benefits of Empathica’s Customer Experience Management (CEM) programmes is that no additional investment in equipment or hardware is needed.

Survey flexibility

If you are considering open-ended questions for your survey, providing ample space for the respondent to complete their answer is crucial. Paper surveys will always have limitations on space, and sometimes are deliberately restricted to avoid respondents writing War and Peace, and therefore minimise the transcription or scanning workload required.

Web-based surveys are far more flexible than paper-based ones. It is very easy to add multiple text areas that the respondent can fill in, enabling you to collect valuable customer feedback. In return, all feedback is reported online and can be easily analysed in order to drive action plans to improve customer experience. You can’t include drop-down boxes, interactive slider controls and star-rating controls, clickable maps and images, or multimedia files on paper – all features that make the process more user-friendly and appealing to the respondent.


Executing paper-based surveys takes valuable time. Whether administration is in-person, mailed or sent as an email attachment, speed is always going to be a factor. The labour and time involved in handling all that paper and postage costs are also factors to take into account.  In addition, once you have collected all your responses, data entry will be required in order to get the information into an accessible and usable format in your database and reporting systems. Multi-page or complex paper surveys may also require scanning to collect and organise data.

Online surveys however, can be used to collect data in very little time. Online surveys can be delivered to your target audience via email or social media networks within minutes. Because of this rapid distribution, your sample population can respond almost immediately, and data is collected automatically. Empathica’s CEM programmes can also provide real-time analysis tools so you can track the progress of your survey and its results.


Data entry accuracy is very high with online surveys, subject to misspellings and mistakes that the respondent may make. Respondents provide their feedback directly, avoiding the risk of errors creeping in with separate data entry from a paper-based response.
One huge advantage of online surveys is when you analyse your results. Modern filtering systems enable you to scrutinise any aspect of your responses with ease; for example, you can read through a group of comments from people that answered a question a specific way, providing a targeted view of subjective feedback.


One of the frequent arguments for paper surveys is that non-tech savvy respondents may not have the required access to a computer and the Internet to complete an online survey via email or on social media networks. However, with Empathica, there is the option of leaving responses using interactive telephone technology accessed through a free phone number.

Technological advances and the adoption of the Internet, smart phones and tablets have revolutionised how leading organisations collect survey data efficiently, cost effectively with almost real time reporting. However, simply changing the way you gather feedback won’t drive change. You have to take what your customers are saying and turn that feedback into action plans that will drive experience improvements.

One of the major benefits of using an online CEM programme is that it makes it easier to analyse customer feedback to identify key insights for individual locations. These can be used to drive actions and implement changes that will make a real difference to customers’ experiences.

If you become the type of company that not only listens to customers, but also acts on their feedback, your customers will return to your locations, become active brand advocates and recommend your brand to friends, family and followers.

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