When it comes to surveys what is the "right length"?
Posted in Customer Engagement
As I mentioned in a recent post, I was surprisingly disappointed by a survey I was invited to take from my gym. I was disappointed not because it was too long and tedious, but because it was too short! It asked me only ONE question! And, I had some very specific feedback to provide. If they had only asked just one more question, even a simple “anything else to add?” comment field, it would have been better.
My gym had my attention, but then squandered it, ticking me off in process. I agreed to take the survey because it was about a product/service that was important to me and I had quite a few points I wanted to make about where I thought they could improve (the locker rooms really need some help!). If a product or service is important to us, we are usually willing to take time with a survey and even expect to share more information about the relationship. But, this organization made me feel that my opinion wasn't important to them and they weren’t serious about using my feedback.
As an industry, we have heard the refrain from respondents that surveys are too long, and we've come up with lots of ways to shorten questionnaires. I’ve frequently joined in this complaint too, as I see surveys that are much too long more often than surveys that are much too short. But now I think I need to adjust my meaning – surveys should be the right length.
That one-question survey would have been the right length it had been about a recent book purchase or oil change. And I’ve happily answered 100-question surveys, which can be the right length as part of an annual account review, when I am spending a lot of money and/or time with an organization.
Here are some thoughts to start a dialogue on survey length based on the type of engagement:
As a unit of measure, of course, a question can be as short as a checkbox or as long as a multi-sided matrix. For practical purposes, these guidelines consider "a question" as the average single-select question. Treat that two-sided matrix with ten topics as 4 or 5 questions.
What would be the right length for your next survey now?!
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