Peter Peter - Founder, UserActive

How to Avoid Survey Fatigue for SaaS Users

User feedback is extremely valuable for any SaaS. Surveys are an effective and popular way to collect user feedback. However, if surveys are sent out too frequently or not made well, survey fatigue can occur. Survey fatigue occurs when users become tired and uninterested in answering your surveys. This can occur either before or during the survey-taking process. There are several reasons that users experience survey fatigue, which we will cover in this article. Usually, more than one of these things leads to your users not wanting to start or complete your survey. In this article, we will share how you can improve your surveys to avoid causing survey fatigue.

Types of Survey Fatigue

Pre-response fatigue

Pre-response fatigue occurs when the potential respondent becomes overwhelmed by asking them for feedback too often. If you’re seeing that your users are not even starting your surveys, try asking them for feedback less frequently. They will likely feel less pressure to give feedback and be more willing to start a survey.

Survey-taking Fatigue

Survey-taking fatigue happens when a respondent is giving feedback and is overwhelmed by the content/elements of the survey. Contributing factors could be the length of the survey, types of questions, or survey design which usually results in the respondent abandoning the survey.

How to improve your surveys

In order to avoid survey fatigue, the best thing you can do is improve your surveys. Here are some ways that you can improve your surveys to get the most out of them, without causing survey fatigue.

Length of the survey

Let users know how long the survey will take them to complete. It’s not a nice surprise to enter a survey to see a long-format question marked 1/50. Most users don’t have tons of extra time to be filling out surveys, so the shorter the better. If a user is aware that the survey will only take 2 minutes, they will be more likely to do the survey.

Survey the right people at the right time

This is one of the key elements to prevent pre-response fatigue. As mentioned earlier, if you ask for feedback too often, this can cause survey fatigue. Additionally, if you’re asking the wrong users or asking them at the wrong time (too soon/too late), they likely won’t provide useful feedback, if any. Ideally, you need to pinpoint the times when it is most sensible to ask for feedback.

This could be after a specific user completes a specific task, as in the example below. The user is halfway through onboarding, so Hubspot asks how the experience has been so far with a simple smiley face survey to gauge the user’s satisfaction with their onboarding process.

Take Care With Question Order

You want to present a survey that has well-thought-out questions and has been thoughtfully constructed. Respondents may feel discouraged if the question appears to be poorly written or if there wasn’t a lot of attention to detail put into the survey.

Ask concise, direct questions

Avoid long-winded, wordy questions. Questions like this can confuse users and make it unclear what is being asked. When possible, use close-ended questions such as multiple or single-choice questions. This will make it faster and easier for users to respond.

Keep open-ended questions to a minimum

This type of question requires more time and effort to complete, and if there are too many, respondents can quickly abandon the survey. A survey with 2 or 3 long format open-ended questions is harder to complete (and to analyze!) than a survey with 10 short closed-ended questions.

If you have a lot of these questions in your survey, try to change them to close-ended questions. If you choose to convert your open-ended questions to close-ended questions, avoid using terms like never and always. This type of multiple-choice question between two absolute options can make it impossible to answer.

For example, a question such as, “How often do you make a purchase on your cellphone?” can’t be answered by someone who makes a mobile purchase once in a while if the options are always or never.

Stick to one question at a time

When providing answers to the respondents, avoid using conjunctions. If your question includes “and”/”or” this can distract the respondent from what you really want to be answered. You may want to cover all your bases, but stick to one question at a time.

As you can see below, by asking more than one question at a time, it easily becomes difficult to answer.

Use consistent scales

If you are using scales in your survey, make sure they are consistent. For example, if you begin the survey with one scale ranging from 0 to 10, stick with that rather than changing suddenly to 1 to 5. The Net Promoter Score works best with a 10-point scale. Whichever scale you start with, stay consistent throughout your survey to avoid confusion.

Make sure to thank the respondents

Thanking respondents is an important step but is still often overlooked. Thank them and let them know the data will be put to use. Reassure them that the time and effort respondents have spent won’t go to waste.

Need help with UI/UX design?

If you would like to improve your UI/UX design, book a 15-minute call to speak with a product design expert.

Managing Product at a Fast-growing Series A SaaS – Donal Quinn
Getting to Know ‘The Jungle’ – David Henzel (Co-founder, Upcoach)