A Penny for Our Thoughts

Blogtober Day 4 – Why are we always being asked to fill out surveys?

Every day we are asked for our opinions through various online surveys that can take from two seconds to thirty minutes to complete! Why do companies and other organisations want our opinions all the time? Surely there are only so many thoughts that a group of people using a service can have and how much do they really change over time?

Although I can’t answer these questions right now, it seems that from research that I’ve done in my project, with changing times come changing opinions especially at the moment, times are changing fast! To keep up with what people want, companies have to ask direct questions in the most unbiased way possible so as not to influence answers; a minefield when all you want to know is how much people value your product. The most common survey I’ve come across recently is rating something. This is such a quick and simple way to get an idea about what your customers thought of you but it’s very two- dimensional and can’t tell you how to improve.

You know in those surveys where there’s an optional section for expanding on why you only rated 3 stars, this is the part that companies are most interested in! It can be the most frustrating thing in the world when people give a low rating and don’t give any extra feedback; you must have had at least one reason why you didn’t like your experience so why not write it down?! Often people simply can’t be bothered to answer the why; being asked your opinion every day is tiring and when you’ve spent the last half an hour trying to find UHT milk in a gigantic superstore, the last thing you want to do is go online and fill out a survey of how you found your experience at the store. Even the chance of winning a huge cash prize isn’t enough to entice some people!

Once after I had paid for my shopping and got the receipt, the cashier tried to encourage me to fill out the survey by telling me that I was more likely to win if I clicked ‘strongly agree’ on every answer. I’m sure the market researchers would not be happy to hear that this sort of advice was being circulated! Predictably I forgot about the survey altogether once I’d got home and unpacked all my shopping!

As well as cash prizes, there are sites offering money or things like nectar points for filling out surveys. I used to have time for this but after a while, life gets in the way and I found the prospect of spending up to 30 minutes filling in a survey less and less appealing and went back to knitting in front of the TV.

My attitude to filling out surveys now is that I’ll do it if it’s convenient and if it means something to me. For example, people who are doing research projects like me or asking me questions about something I’m passionate about. If others have the same attitude, it will mean that there is always someone out there to fill in your survey, you just have to find them!

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