5 Steps to Combat Survey Fatigue

Updated: Oct. 12, 2018  |  Categories: Member Communications, Surveys  

Combat Survey Fatigue

We often recommend surveying your members so that you know that what the chapter is doing is what your members want, but there is a limit of how often their feedback should be solicited. If you exceed that limit you take the chance of negatively impacting your membership through survey fatigue. 

Survey fatigue can be one of two things, survey response fatigue or survey taking fatigue:

Survey Response Fatigue occurs before the survey even begins. The respondent is overwhelmed by the growing number of requests for feedback and opts out of your surveys. Ultimately, this will lead to low response rates.

Survey Taking Fatigue occurs during the survey taking process. The survey may be very long or include questions that are not relevant to the respondent. So, the respondent becomes bored or tired, which leads to them abandoning the survey before it's complete.  Both of which can have a significant negative impact on your response rates and results.

5 Steps to Combat Survey Fatigue

Step 1: Know your target audience. Don't overload your members with too many survey requests in a short amount of time. If your chapter sends out multiple surveys, make sure to keep track of what surveys are being sent out and to whom, so the same individuals are not simultaneously being bombarded with survey requests. Also, make sure your surveys are being targeted to the correct individuals. For example, if you want to send out a survey soliciting feedback about your annual conference that just took place, make sure you're only sending the survey out to members and guests who attended your event.

Step 2: Communicate the survey's value. If potential respondents can see how their responses will be used, they are much more likely to donate their time to your survey. Be sure to include details on how long the survey will take, the number of questions that are in the survey, and whether or not their responses will be anonymous.

Step 3: Limit the length of the survey. It's always a best practice to test the survey yourself before it's sent out, in order to get an idea of how long it will take to complete. A general rule of thumb is to ensure your survey will take no more than 10 minutes to complete.

Step 4: Keep it simple! Don't use convoluted language that tax respondents' memory or comprehension. Also, be sure to avoid double-barreled questions where you're asking multiple questions in one sentence. Each question should be phrased in a way that ensures the respondent is instantly clear on what the question is asking.

Step 5: Ensure the questions are applicable to the respondent. Don't make it hard for the respondent to figure out what they should answer and what they can skip.

Survey fatigue has consequences that should be carefully considered: participation bias, negative brand perceptions, and low data quality.  When your membership is faced with either type of fatigue, individuals with extreme views are more likely to respond to the survey and submit their feedback, this is participation bias. Overwhelming your members and non-members with requests for surveys may become irritating, which in turn, damages your brand. This may lead them to opt out or unsubscribe to emails from your organization altogether. The whole point of creating and sending out a survey is to get data from your members to improve your chapter, butif your survey is particularly long, you can't necessarily trust the accuracy of the responses in the latter half of the survey. Studies have shown that as fatigue sets in, respondents have a tendency to take shortcuts, such as responding "no" to questions in hopes of skipping future questions, or straight lining responses.  It’s important to get a more in depth look at your membership through surveys just be sure to avoid survey fatigue to get the best results.

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