Online surveys – how not to do them


I get asked to answer a lot of online surveys, and usually ignore them. Once in a while a product I like will ask me to fill out a survey – and I will agree. Most of the time I regret that decision and abandon the process somewhere, because the marketers are just being rude:

  1. You are being rude to me – when you are asking too much personal information. I am eager to help improve your product or service, but not to the point of exposing my financial and personal history. If you would not feel comfortable asking your decidedly weird rich uncle for this information until you see his will – do not ask me.
  2. You are being rude to me when your questions suck. Questions are hard to understand and scales do not make sense. Please remember – I am not playing sudoku or solving the Times puzzle. I am not interested in thinking hard so *you* get something out of it. The amount of time and money you spend designing the questions shows. Lack of the time shows even more. It is rude to waste my time because you could not bother thinking of phrasing questions that make sense.
  3. You are being rude to me when you do not tell me where I am in the process. Today’s example, from American Express, did not have a progress bar. I did not know if I was almost done or not even close. Eventually, I just closed the window. It is rude to waste other people’s time.

I think the “weird rich uncle” is a good test subject. Do not send your customers anything you would not do to your rich uncle. Customers are fickle, and their good intentions do not last very long if you try to actively exploit them.

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