Why Seth Godin and I Never Fill Out Surveys and What Companies Can Do About It

“We’ve selected a group of people for a brief survey. Please answer a few quick questions!”

yes no check boxes_1
Yeah, a selected group of whoever happens to respond…

I’m not special.

It seems that I can’t go anywhere or buying anything without being harassed to “fill out a brief survey”. They often times come with promises to be entered into a drawing to win a prize. Usually it is not even a prize I am interested in.

And when I do fill out a survey often it is not as “brief” as advertised.

But we can do better.  


In fact, Seth Godin breaks down his opinion on how on his blog about Survey Questions.


As for my take:


Step One

Make the prize cash (if you are going to do a prize).

Okay maybe cash might have some legal reasons why it can’t be the prize, but then do a Visa gift card. But not a store credit to your own company, because that is just lame.

This also fits in with my dislike of “rewards” and “loyalty” programs.

They are usually very “rewarding” to the business with a paltry payout to the customer.

(My tip: To fix this give something right away for signing up, like Starbucks, give me a free coffee for enrolling, and then give me one after I buy my 1000th cup.)

Step Two

Don’t assume that your priorities are my priorities.

Often time a firm will suggest that filling out the survey will improve my future customer experience or satisfaction.

That’s reasonable.

But I don’t care.

If you have crappy service, I will just go elsewhere. The feedback you need found on your bottom line. Same store sales down? You’ve got a problem and it’s not your customer’s problem to solve it with a survey response.

Survey feedback can help you improve and thereby making it better for the customer, but growing your business isn’t mine.

Step Three  

If you haven’t figured it out or taking any social science research classes, please note that survey responses in and of themselves come from only a specific group who is predisposed to respond.

Generally we see and get “five star” reviews and “one star” reviews or responders.

Those who love us love us. With social media they share our content and get involved with comments.

And the ones who take issue with something tend to be more vocally with complaints anyways.

Lastly, if you’ve “incentivized” your survey (see step one), my default is to fill it out as quickly as possible without consideration only to get my promised potential reward. I don’t think I am alone here.

That being said, know that response will be skewed and not to be accepted as the majority opinion.

Step Four

Asking for feedback with a survey right when I click on your website is a big “no-no”.  

When this happens, all I can think is why do you want someone who hasn’t even used your service or been through your process give you an opinion about it?

And as an aside, why are “pop-up ads” still a thing? They are especially intrusive on mobile devices.

The instant pop-up survey is weird and has to be stopped.

Step Five

Start a real conversation with users/consumers.

As Seth said “If you’re not going to read the answers and take action, why are you asking?”   

To skip the survey and see my top influences check out my book:
Conspire To Inspire


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