As any modern marketer knows, we’re in a feedback-driven world.

This isn’t something new, it’s human nature. We like to ask those around us (and like us) for their opinions on stuff before we buy.

What is new, however, is the technological processes that allow us to collect and display those opinions, and extract juicy insights we can use to improve our businesses.

There are many different types of reviews and feedback, and even more ways of collecting them.

That’s leading to one of the biggest problems we face.

Survey fatigue

It’s great that businesses have gotten serious about feedback. But what’s not great is those that jump in without having any thought or strategy behind the action. Now that every company is asking for feedback, customers are being asked to do a lot of surveys. The bad ones really stand out.

You probably have competitors like this – that work a bit cheaper or a bit faster with a bit less expertise. They end up destroying the industry’s reputation and making your job even harder.

That’s how we feel about annoying surveys. And if you think we hate them, your customers feel even stronger:

A recent survey by Customer Thermometer states that only 9% of consumers take the time to answer feedback requests thoughtfully.

So here’s the state of play:

People are tired of surveys, and are now less likely to answer them. If you want more content and better feedback, you’ll have to bring your A-game.

Our recent European survey (FlyResearch, 2018) shows what methods of communication people actually prefer.

Graph showing peoples preferences for providing feedback

To help, we’ve looked at the most popular ways of requesting user-generated content like feedback and reviews to ask: do you really need them? Do they work? Do they add value?

The bad

Ineffective, unactionable or just plain annoying


Calling customers

Yes, some businesses still rely on cold-calling customers to solicit feedback. Others follow up customer service calls with a text message. Either way, it’s quite an intrusion to have your phone buzz – and these days, people screen their calls and texts, so there’s a good chance you might be left on read.

Social media monitoring

Businesses are increasingly “listening in” to what people are saying about their brands on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

It also enables them to respond to negative comments before they spread, which can happen quickly on social media.

Brands can show their personality on social media, but it’s also a bit of an echo chamber – and full of pranksters to boot. Any insight taken from social media should be taken with a rather large grain of salt.

Feedback during checkout or in-store

This is a good way of getting real-time information on the in-store experience, but customers are busy when they’re shopping, so voluntary feedback can be hard to get.

Dedicated website feedback forms

Feedback forms or email addresses provide customers with a way of making complaints if they wish to.

But these kind of systems will only attract those who are motivated by an extreme experience – either good or bad. That skews the data and makes for a pretty sorry picture when it’s time to report on the results. To get a balanced view you have to contact people proactively.

The good

Natural, delightful & actionable – the best ways to survey customers


Email requests

An email sent after a customer has had enough time to use the product can provide invaluable information on why a customer chose a brand and how they heard about it. An email also strikes a good balance in the notification hierarchy – most people check their email a few times a day, but don’t feel pressured or annoyed when they get a solicitation.

Be careful, though – done badly, emails not only don’t get the results you’re after, but can damage brand reputation or leave you unsubscribed from, after which you’ll have a tough time ever getting another look in.

Online communities

Some customers will voluntarily join Facebook groups or forums dedicated to brands where they are happy to answer questions or enter into discussions. However, we’d recommend trying to build these communities on your own website – that way you’re not at the mercy of a social media algorithm and you can build the community on your own terms.

Businesses often keep these people coming back with offers or promotions as they understand the value of high-quality feedback. This is nice, but we find that showing people that their feedback is actually used is incentive enough.

What you need to remember:

It seems like business 101, but having a cohesive feedback system is harder than it looks. Especially for legacy brands. A big bank or a car brand, for example, will often be using a bunch of different feedback systems alongside newer feedback technology which doesn’t integrate with it.

The end result: a messy web of data that doesn’t match up on the back end, and a stack of annoying surveys up front.

Have a look at the questions you’re asking your customers — do you really need to ask them all? Do they add value or are they just part of a process?

You can find more analysis like this, and our top tips for amazing feedback strategies, in our latest ebook. It’s called How to collect more content with less surveys and right at the back, there are six golden rules you can start following NOW to collect more content and get friendlier with your customers.

We rank the best ways to survey customers