Customer Surveys: Short and sweet is always best

September 18, 2012

By Diane Hargrove

MP&F Account Supervisor Diane Hargrove

Recently, over the course of a week, I was asked to answer two customer service surveys based on experiences at a hotel and at a restaurant.

Customer survey example on MP&F blogI responded to the online hotel survey thinking it would be short and sweet (as it really should have been). As I shared more information about our stay, the survey grew longer and longer, asking at least 50 questions by the end of it, including one about the artwork featured in the hallways. For whatever reason, I couldn’t quit halfway through and stuck with it till the end. My positive scores on the survey dwindled along with my patience level.

When I ordered a steak and steamed vegetables when eating dinner out, the server brought me another side I wasn’t expecting: a double-sided survey and a pen. The question topics ranged from the doneness and seasoning of the steak to the shape and appearance of the plate, to the sharpness, attractiveness and handle of the steak knife. Really?!? Here again, my answers at the end of the survey weren’t as highly rated as the first five.

I wanted to help and share customer feedback, but I was turned off by the process. If people are taking the time to share feedback, it’s in our best interest as PR practitioners and marketers not to make it a burden. When seeking more in-depth responses and opinions, you’ll receive more valuable qualitative feedback when compensating participants with a coupon, free meal or gift card. Don’t let survey results be skewed by their frustration at the number of questions you’re asking as mine were. Keep it short and sweet.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when soliciting survey responses:

  • First and foremost: Thank them for patronizing your business or organization!
  • Keep it simple so you’ll gather the input you need.
  • Brevity is key. Ask a few important questions.
  • Include an open-ended question to give individuals a chance to share their thoughts.
  • Be honest about the time involved. If it’s more than five to eight minutes, revisit and shorten the questions.
  • Dangle a carrot to encourage respondents to participate. We all like free stuff, right?

Had a similar survey experience? Share your comments below.

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