Death by a Thousand Survey Questions

By: Lisa Sigler

October 25, 2016


Surveys are a great way to get customer feedback, but how many survey questions do you really need?

A colleague recently told the story of an annoying survey. He spent no more than five minutes online making a purchase, and then a post-transaction survey popped up. There were more than thirty survey questions about his simple transaction.

He called it “ridiculous” and closed his browser.

Now, it is great that the company wanted his feedback. However, if it takes longer to fill out the survey than to do the transaction that triggered the survey—that is a #surveyfail.

The fact is, people don’t like long surveys. Forbes reports that 52% of customers will not spend more than 3 minutes filling out a customer feedback form. And 80% of customers have abandoned a survey halfway through. You want to know what customers are thinking, but long surveys are not the way to find out.

The good news is that you can still get feedback without surveys that sap your customers’ will to live.

The key is to put your surveys into their proper place. Instead of relying on them to be your only source of customer experience data, make them part of a broader customer experience program.

  • Use the structured data (names, addresses, birthdates, etc.) you already have to identify your customer base. Don’t make them fill all of that out every time.
  • Ask open-ended questions and use text analytics to examine the results. You’ll get information about whole categories you never thought to ask about.
  • Pair your survey results with information you get from other sources. Your call center, social media, marketing, sales, and product teams will all have feedback that will complement your surveys for a more complete view of the customer experience.

One Clarabridge customer replaced a long survey with a high abandonment rate with a much simpler one that included a few scored questions and one open-end. Response rates increased by 22%, and they identified ways to better satisfy customers.

Shorter, open-ended surveys paired with other data give you the information you need without killing your customers’ goodwill toward you.


If you’re interested in more details about making surveys part of your omni-channel CEM program, check out our eBook “The Cure for the Survey Fatigue Epidemic.”


Lisa Sigler is Sr. Manager of Content Marketing at Clarabridge. For over 16 years, Lisa has used her writing and editorial skills to bring the value of technology to life. Today, she works to demonstrate Clarabridge’s position as thought leader and trailblazer in the Customer Experience Management market. Lisa holds a B.A. of English from Kent State University. Read more from Lisa on Twitter @siglerLis.