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Ten Common Survey Mistakes

It is one thing to create a brand new survey for collecting customer feedback; quite another to create a decisive and convincing survey that does serves its intended purpose well. Often, business managers get caught up in the act of creating their survey forms to such an extent that they end up making embarrassing mistakes in their feedback forms.

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Here is a short compilation of a common survey mistakes:

Extremely Long Surveys

One must remember that people have short attention spans (particularly after they’ve paid the bill!) and hence, the survey must be designed keeping in mind that the completion time must be within 10% of the total service time. This endures that the customers are involved in the survey, and also keeps “garbage data” from overwhelming the storage space.

Too Many Choices

It may be tempting to offer n- choices in any question requiring a rating of a parameter of service. However, the leading psychologist Barry Schwartz has argued that increasing choices on offer can only lead to higher anxiety and stress for the customers. Instead of making their decision easier (as should be expected), more choices only make their decision more difficult, since they now need to “eliminate” more options to zero in on their desired choice. The logic can be extended to feedback survey forms as well. An excess of choices in the questions can also make the post-survey analysis of data difficult and tedious to arrive at insights.

Requiring Answers to all Questions

This point holds particular importance in feedback survey forms filled up digitally. Forcing your respondents to fill up all questions in order to progress in the survey might annoy them, leading them to just dismiss the survey mid-way. There also might be few questions that customers in a business setting may not feel entirely comfortable answering – and a few skipped questions will hardly make a difference to the analysis of your “big picture” anyway.

Too Many Open-Ended Questions

Open ended questions following a simple rating question are invaluable since they allow business managers to gain unique insights from the perspective of the customers, as to why they gave a particular rating to a parameter. It may bring to light issues that the business manager may not even have thought about, by asking the customers for their opinions. Caution must be exercised before adding too many open-ended questions however, since customers rarely want to feel like they’re writing essays. The idea is to keep the survey short and meaningful for the business manager as well as the customer.

Demographic Questions

They merit a special mention in the list of survey bloopers. Questions seeking age, gender, nationality or the like must be saved for the end since they can get rather offensive to some, and make them less willing to complete the survey they started on a sour note. It might be a better idea to ask these questions after your customers are through with the survey. Besides, these questions are usually boring and it is best to start the feedback with interesting questions that help the business gain valuable insights.

Asking Irrelevant Questions

It may be tempting for a survey designer to want to know everything, but questions must be added judiciously. Ask only those questions that merit an answer for analysis of the customer service. This keeps the survey short and interesting for the customers, and makes the analysis much easier later on.

Seeking Too Many Details in One Question

In their quest to make the survey short and minimize the number of questions, survey designers may want to club together two questions in one, something along the lines of: “Please rate the taste of food served and the quantity of portion”. While the food may have been great, the quantity might have been barely adequate, or conversely. It is essential for survey designers to be wary of this trap and frame separate questions for each and every parameter they wish to draw an analysis on.

Skipping the Conclusion

Think about this. Your customers have spent some of their valuable time to proffer suggestions to help improve your business. It would make their day if they received a little “Thank you” message after completing the survey. Not only is it polite, it also acts as an excellent closure to the survey and your customers would know they are through with the feedback survey once they see the “Thank you” page.

Not Proof-Reading

This is an essential point, but one that is often overlooked in the frenzy of quickly assembling a customer feedback system together. Check if questions have an “N/A” option so that respondents aren’t forced into answering from the available list of choices, however extensive they may be. If an option is marker as “Other”, it must be followed with a blank space. Fields for storing e-mail address and telephone numbers must include a validation rule to ensure that only valid values are collected. Even still, it's worth using an email verifier afterward to confirm address validity.

Not Testing

Survey creation may have taken a lot of time and designers would be keen to see the fruits of their effort as soon as possible, but it is always a wise idea to undergo a trial run with a sample of the intended audience before finalizing the plan. Such a test-run will bring to light any unintended errors that may have crept through the design phase, and ensure that the survey logic is functioning as desired, and the reporting module is in sync with collected data. Correcting errors and bugs in the trial run is far better than making changes during the actual operation, which may corrupt the analysis.
Like pleasing customers, designing customer feedback surveys is no mean feat. Both require diligence, attention to detail and patience. However, if implemented properly, they are sure to pay big dividends in due course.

Learn more about the Survey Response

Team Zonka

Written by Team Zonka

Feb 04, 2015

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