Are your customers complaining that your surveys are too long or are difficult to answer?

Are you getting fewer completed surveys?

Our clients often ask us to help them improve their customer satisfaction surveys, and specifically, how many questions is too many. The answer depends on the customer and the type of survey.

We want to share some of the advice we provide our clients when considering survey length and a few suggestions to make the process easier for your customers.

At The Daniel Group, we are strong believers in “the shorter, the better.”

Sometimes the number of survey questions exponentially grows because there are too many company departments that have a couple of things they want to learn from the customers too. Instead, you should define two or three outcomes (what you want to learn) from the survey process.  Then build your survey questions.  Without the outcomes to anchor the design process, question “bloat” is inevitable.

Always consider the customer as you design your survey.

What is the environment in which they will answer a call or complete an email survey?  Everyone is rushed today, but some customers are more rushed than others.

How long is the survey? Not number of questions but time to complete in whichever survey mode used is the important measure.

  • If it is a transactional survey done by phone, 3-5 minutes to complete is likely tops.
  • If it is an email, design it so it can be done in 2-3 minutes maximum.

How do customers perceive the length of the survey versus the actual length? I have completed 20 question email surveys that I perceived to be quite short.

On the other hand, I have completed eight question surveys that I perceived to be quite long. Some things affect the perception of length.  If you have questions that require a lot of thinking (e.g., estimate what percentage of your service and repair budget you give to each of three competitors).  A survey that has questions laid out in a grid format can also be perceived to be longer than one constructed more simply.

What do your customers want?

Some prefer email, some phone, or some text.  Try to match the mode used with the desires of the customer.
How good are your customer relationships? Customers are usually willing to give the time if they view you as a trusted, needed and integral part of their team.

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What is the survey mode that is most likely to be effective for both customers and the company?

If the product or service is easy to purchase and there is not too much complexity, then an email survey may be the better choice. Conversely, if the product complexity is high, a phone survey might make it easier for your customers to complete.  A well-trained interviewer can often help find answers to customer questions, and concerns sometimes arise in the course of an interview.

If the price of the product or service is low, then an email may be more effective and less costly mode than a phone survey.

What type of survey are you doing?

The surveys we do for new product delivery are typically longer than surveys for a service transaction.  For one thing, these types of surveys may have more desired outcomes and, therefore, the survey may be longer than a survey about a service or parts transaction.  Also, customers are often quite willing to talk about the new thing they just bought.

If you are wondering if your B2B survey has too many questions, it probably does!

Before you start cutting the survey questions, think about the survey process outcomes.  Once you do, this will make the question editing process much easier.

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