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Why Site Surveys Annoy Me (Or Why I Don't Do Them Any More)

I used to fill out site surveys all the time. You know the ones the various e-tailers have. The survey presents a little pop-up and asks if you'd be willing to fill out a survey after you've finished shopping. I like to think that even if I had a mediocre time, I can let them know what I thought was good or bad. Very rarely is my shopping experience great or terrible - usually just good, bad or entirely unremarkable. Unremarkable is fine, by the way; even preferable. I needed to buy X. I found X in 3-4 clicks. I bought X in 2-3 more clicks. End of experience. That's why I shop online. Even so, I can often suggest something that might have made the experience better or mention something good that helped me narrow down a selection quickly. I used to think surveys were good things to do. That is until recently.

I was just checking out Best Buy for keyboards. (The space bar, left control and left and right shift keys are dying on this one. Gaming kills keyboards.) A pop-up came up and asked if I'd fill out a survey. I clicked OK or whatever the affirmative button was labeled. After I finished shopping (and buying a keyboard from Newegg, instead), I looked at the survey. It consisted of 28 questions. Let me write that out: twenty-eight questions. Most were pick a number between 1 and something (7? 9? I don't remember). Some near the end were write-in essay or short answer. Let me give you a hint (about me at least), survey makers. You get a maximum of 15 questions if they are all of the click-the-rating-from-1-to-5 type. If you ask one essay ("What would you like to see us add?", "Additional Comments", etc.), you get a maximum of ten questions including the essay. If I have to pick a range from 1 to 9, make it seven or eight questions. No more than ten. Not twenty. And most certainly not twenty-eight. I wanted to write into the "What could we do to make the site better?" question at the end (or however it was phrased), "Don't ask 28 questions on your surveys." I couldn't do that, of course. All the questions had to be answered. In order to complain about the length of the survey, I would have had to fill out the entire survey. I just closed it instead. I don't mean to single out Best Buy. They are just the latest one to do this. Lately, all the surveys I've seen are just about as bad.

Does that sound shallow? It probably takes me about 15-20 minutes to answer a survey of that length assuming I actually read each question, think about it and answer. Sorry, survey makers, but I have better uses for my time. (Like bemoaning long surveys.) When will I take the time to fill out a 28-question survey? When the site has either a) done something really spectacular that saved me money or guided me to a better choice than what I had in mind to start with or b) the site did something that really, really pissed me off. Here's another hint, survey makers. Most often, if I answer a 28-question survey, it's because of b). I don't think I'm alone in this. I believe that the only answers that the company is likely to get from this survey is from those that really loved the site or those that really hated it (and most likely, the latter). The majority of us that fall in the middle just won't answer. That's too bad since those are the people most likely to appreciate an improvement where something was lacking. Those that hated the site aren't coming back. Those that loved it will come back regardless. Remember, survey makers. Ten questions max. Period.