In Short:  The proliferation of survey requests from seemingly every brand has become a near constant for most of us.  The overload effect from excessive surveys erodes our inclination to respond to surveys. The net effect here is that the research community is negatively impacting the research community.  Dialing down survey frequency may be a win-win for both consumers and the research community itself.

“You’ve been chosen to take part in a satisfaction survey.”  How flattering.  If you’ve called any service provider recently, there is a strong chance you have qualified into this seemingly special lot, as well.

Everywhere we turn these days there is a survey opportunity before our eyes.  Support calls often start with a peppy voice that a chance to provide feedback awaits.  Product purchases trigger surveys about the buying experience.  A few days or weeks later, the same company hits you up with a survey about the product itself.  Since everyone wants your feedback and long-term loyalty, it’s a case of rinse and repeat as you continue your lifelong consumer journey.

Why the flood of surveys?  The explosion of discussion about the importance of customer experience combined with the growing availability of sophisticated survey capabilities for marketing, research and customer success teams have created a recipe for the survey barrage.

For us, as consumers and customers, the inundation of survey requests, whether you tend to respond to them or not, has a desensitizing effect.  It’s akin to how the onslaught of digital advertising has trained many eyes and minds on how to spot the close box or the Skip Ad link as fast as humanly possible.  It’s similar to how the explosion of robocalls have so many  wanting to recognize names and numbers before answering the phone.

When our minds are overwhelmed with any one thing, we become really good at tuning out that one thing. Enter surveyentia – the numbing condition that has us tuning out of surveys more than ever before. A growth marketer who provided feedback on the topic, put it this way: “I’ve even tuned out the ones at my company since we get so many of them.”

Ironically, this is not good for those of us in the data-driven research community. Despite great intentions, researchers’ temptations to seek feedback at every twist and turn of the customer journey, are negatively impacting their own endeavors. Besides the sheer annoyance factor, there is a risk that researchers are going to find it increasingly challenging to get enough responses for each individual survey.  Across the zillions of surveys that are popping every day, there are likely more surveys being offered up overall, but survey responses, on a per survey basis, become more challenging.

Research experts will add that as the response rates come down, the bias factor goes up.  In other words, there is already a bias built into surveys based on the fact that the survey misses that segment of the population that does not feel inclined to respond to surveys.  As this segment increases the lot that we miss out on increases.

So what can be done?  In short, find ways to dial down the volume.  Do NPS blasts with less frequency. Survey employees less frequently but put more promotional might behind those fewer feedback pushes.   Dial down the percentage of callers, site visitors, customers that you put survey opportunities in front of.  Rather than surveying on every purchase, do an annual blast to encourage feedback. You can convey you care about their opinions once a year. If many brands follow suit with the above, surveys can feel unique and special again. And with that, response rates can get back to where they need to be to help the research profession uncover those golden nuggets – win-wins for all.