(503) 567-2314 info@opiniator.com

Avoid Survey Fatigue in 4 Steps

Feb 23, 2019 | Blog

What is the Survey Fatigue Problem?

Survey fatigue is increasingly common but very few businesses know what to do about this problem even though you can avoid survey fatigue in 4 steps. It’s true, answering questions is mostly an inconvenience for the customer and survey fatigue happens all the time but just as many companies are slow to understand the reasons it might happen in the first place.

And that’s just part of the story….

You see, aside from there being too many substandard surveys and requests floating around, many companies are also pushing their customers into survey fatigue. That is to say, surveys might not be the most exciting prospect but many businesses have a tendency to ‘over survey’ and complicate what should be a convenient process.

On the other hand, these surveys are incredibly important to the business and provide essential guidance along with priceless data to nurture better decision-making. In fact, recent studies show that taking a data-driven approach can significantly increase the performance and productivity of any business.

But what is survey fatigue exactly and what makes it so important?

Survey Fatigue Defined

Survey fatigue is the latest issue which both experienced and inexperienced researchers battle with. By definition, it’s a problem that occurs when survey respondents become bored, tired or uninterested in the survey and begin to perform at a substandard level. The issue is divided into two types:

  1. Survey Response Fatigue – This occurs before the survey begins. Overwhelmed by the growing number of requests for feedback, respondents will opt out of your surveys. As a result, you’ll suffer with low response rates.
  2. Survey Taking Fatigue – This type of responder fatigue happens during the survey taking process. It’s the result of very long surveys that include questions which aren’t applicable to the respondent. It’s also the lead cause for high rates of abandonment mid-survey.

Simply put, survey fatigue results in substandard data and a low response rate from respondents.

Now, that’s not to say survey fatigue is the only reason for substandard information and low response rates. After all, many businesses use ineffective channels or target the wrong market with their surveys and relevance is essential when it comes to gaining traction. For example, internal surveys have a significantly higher response rate than those distributed to customers and studies show 20 – 30% more people respond to the average internal survey.

What Causes Survey Fatigue

There are four main causes leading to survey fatigue:

1) Over-surveying

The onslaught of surveys is fraying customer patience says the New York Times Businesses want your opinion of them, and their requests for feedback, like relentless tugs on the sleeve. It is just too much.

“It’s like the gold rush now,” said Jonathan Barsky, of Market Metrix, “Anyone who can craft a customer survey and throw it on the Internet is doing it.”

2) Poor Survey Organization

Creating a survey that has no structure is a good way to find out what survey fatigue looks like. This is likely to include too many open-ended questions or questions that simply serve no immediate purpose. The structure and general organization of a survey play a huge role in low response rates.

3) Lengthy Surveys

With too many surveys being fired at customers, the last thing they need is too many questions. This has a massive impact on response rates and survey fatigue.

4) Incorrect Survey Mechanism

Why should the business dictate how convenient the survey is for the customer? The more convenient the greater the response rate and the decrease chance of survey fatigue. This means the business must enable feedback on the customers’ terms.

What is the Impact of Survey Fatigue?

There are some big implications for the business if its customers suffer from survey fatigue. These are the top four.

  1. Negative Brand Perceptions – Despite being in an era where companies’ appetite for collecting feedback is increasing, customers are becoming irritated by survey invitations. This, in turn, can damage your brand. Bombarding your clients with too many surveys is especially lethal to your brand’s perception.
  2. Low Data Quality – Though you want to gather as much data as you can, asking for more data can backfire on you. If your survey does manage to attract your customers during the first 8 seconds, you’ll need to wrap it up in less than 4 minutes and 52 seconds. You can’t trust the answers your respondents select or write after that time. Further confirming this is a 2007 Stanford University study, which proves that the time for surveys needs to be very limited to ensure accurate responses.
  3. Serious Survey Bias – Survey fatigue won’t affect individuals with extreme views as they definitely want their voices to be heard. This can lead to a form of survey bias known as non-response bias. Since those who don’t respond possibly have a different view, the survey data won’t effectively reflect all customers’ views.
  4. Wasting marketing dollars. Not only the cash costs of developing the questions and executing the survey but the opportunity costs you forwent in the process.

Avoid Survey Fatigue in Four Steps

  1. Tackle over surveying by enabling the customer to self-select ie. they initiate the feedback process, rather than the business continually pushing out survey requests. With Opiniator, the request for feedback is via on-location signage. Some examples of this signage are shown here. The signage includes the methods to give feedback and the expected time to complete the feedback. This is should be under two minutes.
  2. Tackle poor survey organization by using structured survey questions. These might include some form of numeric rating, including the Net Promoter Score.  The benefit here is the analysis that can be performed – almost impossible with open-ended questions. Other questions should include single choice type, again allowing for easy analysis. Keep out the questions that do not add value or easily forgotten. Is “Who was your server” – a key question?
  3. Tackle lengthy surveys by keeping them to less than two minutes. At Opiniator we have found that the drop off rate increases by 30% if the burden on the customer is above two minutes. Make it easy, make it convenient and make it short.
  4. Tackle Incorrect Survey Mechanism by allowing the customer to give feedback on their terms. This means on a device they are familiar with, a language they prefer and an input mechanism they like.


Survey fatigue is a really big issue, but you can avoid survey fatigue in four steps. For all Opiniator features – check out the link here.