Survey fatigue

I’ve just completed a survey handed to me at Euston station the other day. It’s one of those standard multiple choice jobbies. Don’t ask me why I did it I generally dislike these things intensely.

It’s a 4 page effort and I was bored after page 1. The first question on page 2 is one of those that leads to subsequent routes through the survey. If you answer that yes, you’ve had an adverse experience in the last few months, you have 2 whole pages of further questions to answer. If you answer no, you skip to the last page.

Needless to say, this creates a powerful incentive to answer one way, rather than another… the more speedily to qualify for entry in the prize draw and get back to real life.

I wonder if the marketing folks spent any time at all thinking about the message these laboured, tedious forms give their customers? Do they perhaps kid themselve that we somehow interpret them as evidence of care?

2 thoughts on “Survey fatigue

  1. Stephen Pierzchala

    Marketing and Thinking Cannot be used in the same sentence.

    The former only requires a stimulus such as is found in applying an electric current to a frog leg, which does not require life as repeated expermiments have demonstrated.

    The latter requires a pulse, and cannot be done in a dismembered condition. Although the presence of life does not guarantee thinking as a reproduceable outcome which may be where the confusion by the former toward the latter takes place.

    Please adjust your memes accordingly.


    Plus, the soothing sounds of Euston Station probably didn’t help.

    Why would someone try and corner someone in the station to try and complete a survey?


  2. Matt Moore

    Been thinking a lot about surveys recently. We like them because we feel that they somehow give us objective, numerical data about the world. “Look there’s graphs and everything! It must be true!”

    There are circumstances when surveys are useful. Pretty useless for most forms of sense-making however.

    The worst survey I ever encountered was from a market research company operating on behalf of a major telco. I was presented with 10 incomprehensible charging plans for IPTV and asked to rate them by certain criteria in exchange for $20. One question that had been given no thought was: “We have to make money from IPTV – this wonderful service that you need – how can we make paying us as easy & painless for you as possible?”

    Still, I am not without sin in this area…


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