Feedback surveys are essential for gauging your customers’ satisfaction and learning where you need to improve.

But it's a big ask to request that your customers or users take time out of their day to complete these kinds of surveys. Don’t be rude -- make sure you’re respecting your customers’ time and providing a good survey experience.

In this post, I've explored eight customer feedback survey mistakes I see many businesses make. Avoid making them, and you’ll have a better survey, happier customers, and more data to improve their experience.

8 Customer Feedback Survey Mistakes to Avoid

1) Using Too Many Text Boxes Instead of Multiple-Choice Options

It’s a disheartening feeling to open a business’s feedback form and find it full of empty text boxes. Suddenly, all of that anxiety from high school standardized testing returns, and your customers may flee in a panic.

The truth is that many users will see those big empty text boxes and determine that they simply don’t have time to complete the survey. Writing paragraphs is a lot more effort than checking off a few boxes. Checkboxes they can do, but 500-word essays about the pain and euphoria your software has provided? Not likely.

The lesson? Use multiple-choice boxes whenever you can. If you’re considering using a text box, think about whether it’s truly necessary, and limit yourself to as few as possible.

2) Including Too Many Mandatory Boxes

I think we’d all agree that some feedback is better than none, right? Your customers are busy, and while they’re willing to help you, that goodwill only goes so far.

The only thing worse than having too many text boxes like we discussed above is having too many text boxes that are also required to complete the survey.

It’s fine to include a couple essential text fields, but please -- don’t make them mandatory! I’d encourage you to question whether any fields should really be mandatory at all.

Setting up required fields simply puts up roadblocks for the customer. You want this survey experience to be as smooth and streamlined as possible, and several mandatory fields cause serious friction.

Doing away with the required answers allows customers to submit their suggestions when they’ve reached their threshold. But forcing your users to write multi-sentence answers with no alternative means of escape will frustrate your customers and may push them to give up on the survey altogether.

3) Not Telling Customers How Long the Survey Will Take

Your customer’s time is valuable, just like your own -- so make sure you let users know how long your feedback survey is expected to take (before they get started). This will allow them to adequately prepare -- where a five-minute survey can be completed without thinking twice, customers might need to block out some time in order to focus on anything longer.

With that said, shorter is always better when it comes to feedback surveys. Customers may be willing to complete short surveys for free, but anything of substantial length will probably need some kind of reward to entice users.

In the example below, ShortStack includes exactly how many questions the survey will have, and offers a potential prize.

4) Omitting a Progress Bar

Incorporating a progress bar is a great way to help users stay engaged with your feedback survey.

Progress bars let users assess how much longer they have to go, and allows them to glimpse the light at the end of the tunnel.

While hopefully you already gave customers a clue about how long the survey would take, a progress bar reinforces your suggested timeline -- and helps ease customers’ anxiety a bit about the time commitment involved.

Gamification elements are very powerful, and while a progress bar is just a sprinkle of gamification, seeing that progress bar clip along can be a nice added bit of mental encouragement for users to complete your survey.

5) Not Including Images

While surveys are certainly a different type of content from a blog post or ebook, basic content rules are still relevant.

When it makes sense, try to include a few images to help keep survey takers engaged.

Of course, you don’t want to overdo this, but a splash of visual interest can be quite appealing and capture your customer’s interest (as well as provide more detail for certain survey questions -- especially those regarding design, navigation, or certain software functionality). Here’s an example from Sun Basket:

6) Don’t Ask Users Info You Already Know

As you already know, time is of the essence with feedback surveys.

Don’t waste your anyone’s time by making them fill out information you don’t need or already have access to –- like their name, address, phone number, or email. Make the barrier to filling out the survey as low as possible.

7) Not Including a Prize

Let’s face it: Everyone loves free stuff. Offering some kind of reward, prize, or discount in exchange for a user’s feedback will have a great effect on your engagement rates.

In many cases, simply offering to put customers into a drawing for a gift card or a few months of free software will be enough to win them over. Promising users a $10 Amazon gift card simply for completing the survey is even better -- here's an example from G2 Crowd:


8) Letting Customers Drop Off Without Collecting Partial Data

There will probably be at least a few customers who end up dropping off of your feedback survey midway through. They may have suddenly gotten a phone call from a teacher at their child’s school, or received a notification reminding them of a meeting in five minutes.

For whatever the reason, drop-offs happen -- rather than losing that data was collected before your customer decided to peace out, consider finding a way to make sure you still receive some of that data.

There are a few different ways to do this, depending on the type of survey software you use. One method is to simply spread your questions across several pages. This way, when users hit the “next page” button, the answers completed on the previous page can be submitted.

The only danger of this is that users may become frustrated when they think they’re about to be done with a survey, and are instead presented with a whole new set of questions -- but, of course, incorporating a progress bar is a great way to remedy this.

Those are the major customer feedback survey mistakes we see on the web. What other mistakes do you see surveys making? Share them with me on Twitter.

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Originally published Nov 21, 2017 8:00:00 AM, updated July 12 2019


Customer Feedback